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Extension > Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships > Southeast > Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems > Southeast Foodshed Planning Initiative (SEFPI)

Southeast Foodshed Planning Initiative (SEFPI)


The Southeast Foodshed Planning Initiative (SEFPI) is an effort to develop a cadre of researchers to engage with community leadership and help “connect the dots” of over 10 years of local food projects that have not yet shifted our overall food environment. The SEFPI is a multidisciplinary, multi-year research effort that aims to bring the analytical strength of the University of Minnesota to our region's efforts to build an integrated, self-reliant food infrastructure.
We’ve supported over 25 University faculty members, research fellows and students involved in 8 research projects that begin to address broad interdisciplinary questions: How food self-sufficient are we? What incentives and opportunities are needed to reach some level of food self-sufficiency? What are the possibilities for regional food production to meet economic, social, environmental, and nutritional needs? 


Community steering committee and learning circle involving over 30 community members, representing farmers, grocers, non-profits, local government, schools, community groups and private interests. This committee has evolved into the Healthy Food Alliance of SE MN.
University of Minnesota faculty, research fellows, graduate students and staff from a wide range of departments, including but not limited to: Animal Science, Applied Economics, Applied Plant Sciences, Center for Rural Design, Environmental Science, Policy & Management, Evaluation Studies, Family Social Science, Geography, Horticulture, Institute for Global Studies, Landscape Architecture, Liberal Arts, Public Health, Public Policy, Sociology, Soil, Water & Climate. 


Research areas include program and policy review, production assessment, community survey on food systems perspectives, produce demand of minority consumers, foodshed analysis of potential agricultural production, consumer expenditure analysis, spatial analysis and mapping, and project evaluation and community engagement.


The research materials of SEFPI food system efforts have been compiled into a “metadoc” called, "A Set of Research Tools and Studies Concerning the Food Environment of Southeast Minnesota." It is hoped that the digital reports, charts, and Excel data files found in this metadoc will be used by the Healthy Food Alliance of SE MN and other SE and statewide entities to help improve food system work in this region and to help realize a healthy food environment for all. Access the materials from the link below.

The Food Environment of Southeast Minnesota: A Set of Research Tools and Studies



Leveraged resources

  1. $3,250.00 Center for Rural and Urban Affairs, Community Assistantship Program intern, student researcher
  2. $8,000.00 graduate student research assistantship via Paul Porter, Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics
  3. $1,400.00 Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program
  4. Additional UM student, staff, faculty time beyond funding
  5. Community board and steering committee time
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