Let's Go Local! Strengthening the nutrient chain as a whole

Let's Go Local! Strengthening the nutrient chain as a whole

Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

We are in a crisis. But we have a solution. Let's Go Local for the CHEEF benefits of Culture, Health, Environment, Economy and Food security. How? By growing and consuming your local island foods. So make a policy to have mainly local food in your family or at your events and be proud to be a healthy Micronesian.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The Federated States of Micronesia is in a CHEEF crisis of Culture, Health, Environment, Economy and Food security. A crisis in nutrients. In Pohnpei state 73% are overweight or obese, 37% of women have diabetes . The epidemic of non-communicable diseases (NCD) has been declared a regional health emergency with close to half of deaths due to these preventable lifestyle diseases. Increasing the risk of NCD, 82% of Pohnpeains consume less than 2 servings of fruit and vegeatbles per day. The dietary shift to nutrient-poor, processed imported foods, neglecting local traditional food, has contributed to these health problems, as well as environmental degradation and waste management issues, loss of culture, loss of plant biodiversity and lack of self-reliance in these remote isolated islands.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

GROW & EAT LOCAL! The solution to the CHEEF problems is inextricably linked to nutrients. By producing & consuming local island foods, as traditionally experienced, nutrients can feed our bodies, the soil & our cultural pride. INCREASING DEMAND 1. Awareness raising based on our scientific analysis of local food varieties nutritional value (community events, mass media, walking the talk), incl. health surveys 2. Supporting families, community groups, schools, govt departments to adopt local food policies 3. Empowering community driven behaviour change through e.g peer-to-peer education, transfer of Traditional Knowledge, IFCP designed time/energy efficient ovens, recipes & cooking skills, improving status of local foods & cultural pride INCREASING SUPPLY 1. Supporting growers with technical advice & planting materials 2. Genebank of rare varieties 3. Community planting 4. Market development support for food processing industry & ready-made local foods
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Health surveys by IFCP have found students diets to be mainly based on processed, imported foods. This is contributed to by the snacks available at schools. IFCP initiated the first ever MOU on Healthy Schools to establish access to healthy, local foods at schools. We worked with Principals to encourage parents to open healthy snack stalls where prior to this parents sold only unhealthy imported foods. One Ohmine Elementary parent has taken the initiative and now has a line of impatient students waiting for their favorite recess snack of coconut ice-bar. This surprising demand for her local food stall is due to the bottom-up approach of IFCP delivering nutrition education classes and supporting teachers to establish 'local healthy food policies' where students bring local fruits to share 2 days per week. School wide planting days have also made an impact. Yesterday a teacher from this school told us how the students continue to be excited about 'local food days' and tell him how he too can be healthy by going local! Without this top-down, bottom-up initiative students would still be eating dry packets of ramen with KoolAid powder without knowledge on the effect it has for their CHEEF. Now they are ambassadors for going local!

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Since record keeping began in 2010 we have delivered awareness raising to 14,500 community members and 9,670 students, reaching 75% of the population of Pohnpei State. Our use of mass media (fortnighlty newspaper, weekly radio, monthly newsletter, website and facebook) has an even greater impact with national and interntional scope. Government departments and community groups have adopted local food only policies. Regional and outer island requests for our solution are regular. There is now a stable supply of ready-made local food and particular nutrient-rich varieites that IFCP has promoted such as the Karat banana. Private business is seeking our technical knowledge and marketing skills to develop a taro flour industry. The Go Local! campaign has created an environment where people are excited and proud to use local food and are demanding product availability. The future impact will be based on matching this to the supply side.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

As there is much enthusiasm for our support we are currently devising a fund development strategy that will diversify our funding sources to include income generation (sales, microfinance), grants, state and federal govt support, donations and memberships. We have also been instrumental in having a soft drink tax bill currently at legislature with the vision that this tax will be used for health projects such as ours. The work of IFCP is being scaled up without financing as community groups themselves adopt 'local healthy food policies' with the knowledge and support they have gained through our community work.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

On such small and dispersed remote islands like these the market is small. Main players are govt departments of health and agriculture who we work closely with using our interagency, multisectoral approach. We also work closely with a network of environmental NGOs, NCD coalition, Pohnpei State Healthy Lifestyle Working Group, private sector and industry. The largest competitor to local foods is the unjust global food system, which continues to import low nutrient, high sugar and fat foods to FSM. Although the demand exists, there is no importation of packaged 'health foods'. IFCP has the unique advantage of using local scientific research combined with grassroots community action and in understanding that local food nutrients is the key to addressing issues of multiple sectors/segments.

Founding Story

Observing the failure of a costly UN Vitamin A supplementation program, and realising the almost complete lack of health problems prior to 1970s, nutritionist Dr Lois Engleberger embarked on a research project analysing local food nutrient values. She came back from studies enthused and motivated to spread the knowledge she had gained. In intense discussions with the Chief of Agriculture they arranged a meeting of traditional leaders and key community members from each sector to form a niche NGO that promoted Island Food as the answer to not only burgeoning health problems, but also, other developmental issues and declining cultural practices and knowledge on agroforestry systems. As individuals and community groups began adopting the slogan of Go Local for their own initiatives to ban soft drinks etc and recognised the Karat banana as a symbol to the movement, Lois and her active Board realised that this work was a success with scaling up occuring independent to the NGO.
About You
Island Food Community of Pohnpei
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Island Food Community of Pohnpei

Organization Country
Country where this project is creating social impact
Has the organization received awards or honors? Please tell us about them

FSM Commemorative Stamp dedicated to Island Food Community founder (2013)

Nutrients For All
Where do you ensure the availability of nutrients?

Healthy environments., Nutrient-rich farming, Full nourishment foods, Human wellness and vitality.

If you had greater capacity, which additional sectors would you like your solution to target - either through expansion, partnership, or thought exchange?

Healthy environments, Nutrient-rich farming, Full nourishment foods, Human wellness and vitality.

How specifically would this added capacity help you improve the quality, efficiency, or sustainability of your existing product or service?

Specifically, with added capacity we would assist small cooperatives of women to establish stable food processing initiatives that utilise nutrient-rich island foods. There is much demand for processed foods that are local and healthy but people have little time to prepare, electricity is one of the highest rates globally, and younger generations have lost the skills therefore buy imported, unhealthy foods. By supporting cooperatives to develop a stable supply and using our marketing and awareness activities to increase demand there is a greater opportunity to impact the CHEEF issues. These partnerships support our mission and with a microfinance component offer some sustainability to financing. As the market realises the potential for local health food products, this is projected to increase competition.