Integrating Food Systems and Local Food in Family and Consumer Sciences

Perspectives from the Pilot Extension Master Food Volunteer Program


  • J. Dara Bloom North Carolina State University
  • Joanna Massey Lelekacs North Carolina State University
  • Gretchen L. Hofing North Carolina State University
  • Robyn Stout North Carolina State University
  • Morgan Marshall North Carolina Cooperative Extension
  • Kristin Davis North Carolina Cooperative Extension



Local Food, Cooperative Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences, Volunteers, Food Systems Training


Cooperative Extension programs across the United States are embracing food systems and local food as a new topic area. Previous studies indicate that successful local food programming requires cross-program collaboration. However, research in this area has underrepresented Extension educators from non-agricultural program areas, although understanding their perspectives is key to fostering cross-program collaboration. The case study pre­sented in this paper examines qualitative evaluation data from the pilot year of the NC State Extension Master Food Volunteer (EMFV) program, which provides training in food systems and local food to Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) educators and their volunteers. Data from semistructured interviews with educators in the pilot program and from focus groups with their volunteers provide the opportunity to explore areas of intersection and divergence between local food and the FCS pro­gram area in order to determine how to best inte­grate FCS and local food. Findings suggest that integrating local food into FCS pro­gramming will require special attention to poten­tially controversial issues that require educators and volunteers to communicate with the public about scientific issues that also invoke personal values, such as pesticide use and genetic engineering. We also found that educators and volunteers felt that promoting local food was not always compatible with an FCS focus on healthy eating. Overall, this case study demon­strates the potential to engage FCS educators and volunteers in cross-program, community-based food system projects, and to provide public educa­tion in the growing field of food systems and local food.

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Author Biographies

J. Dara Bloom, North Carolina State University

Assistant Professor and Local Foods Extension Specialist, Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences

Joanna Massey Lelekacs, North Carolina State University

Local Food Program Manager, NC State Extension.

Lelekacs is now Director of Education, North Carolina Botanical Garden, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Gretchen L. Hofing, North Carolina State University

SNAP-Ed Steps to Health Coordinator, Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences.

Hofing is now Program Coordinator, Duke Integrative Medicine.

Robyn Stout, North Carolina State University

NC 10% Campaign State Coordinator, Center for Environmental Farming Systems

Morgan Marshall, North Carolina Cooperative Extension

Extension Area Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences, New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender County Centers.

Marshall is now Marketing and Event Assistant, Asheville Event Co.

Kristin Davis, North Carolina Cooperative Extension

Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences, Mecklenburg County Center



How to Cite

Bloom, J. D., Lelekacs, J., Hofing, G., Stout, R., Marshall, M., & Davis, K. (2020). Integrating Food Systems and Local Food in Family and Consumer Sciences: Perspectives from the Pilot Extension Master Food Volunteer Program. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 9(2), 197–220.