By Chris Branam
Jared Hibbard-Swanson, an experienced food access advocate and educator, has joined the Oregon State University Extension Service as its inaugural program manager for food security and safety.
In his role, Hibbard-Swanson serves on the statewide team of the OSU Extension Family and Community Health Program in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences. Hibbard-Swanson will develop and implement an integrated vision for Extension’s community food security programming, which is defined as equitable access to affordable, nutritious and culturally appropriate food.
This vision will bring together community food security efforts, food safety and preservation efforts, educational approaches and future programming that meet the needs of Oregonians. This will be achieved through collaboration with OSU colleagues and national, state and local partners.
“I am excited to take on this new role and to further direct the resources and expertise of Extension to the essential work of making good food available for all Oregonians,” Hibbard-Swanson said.
Hibbard-Swanson will be responsible for ensuring that Extension food security and safety programs will be implemented so that they measure impact, foster program improvement and strengthen community connections. He will work in support of the food goals of Healthier Together Oregon, the state’s health improvement plan.
Hibbard-Swanson will provide leadership and training for faculty and staff working with program volunteers, including the development of training and workshops for volunteers and staff that engage in their communities toward food security, safety and preservation.
He will partner with the OSU Department of Food Science and Technology and others to support food security, safety, food preservation or other relevant programming.
Allison Myers, interim leader of the Family and Community Health Program, said Swanson will use his skills as a coalition builder to create programs that are effective and sustainable.
Hibbard-Swanson comes to Extension from the Marion Polk Food Share in Salem, where was the farm and gardens program manager. In that position he developed gardening and nutrition programs that inspired and empowered teens and adults to grow, share, and enjoy fresh produce.
In 2013 he launched the Marion Polk Food Share Youth Farm, an urban vegetable farm that engages teens in farming fruits and vegetables for community distribution. The produce grown at the Youth Farm currently supports 100 weekly produce prescriptions for low-income patients struggling with diet-related illness.
Hibbard-Swanson represented the Marion Polk Food Share on the Oregon Community Food Systems Network. He served on the Northwest Youth Garden Network and Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Network.
He represented Marion County on the Extension Community Advisory Network. He serves on the horticulture advisory committee at Chemeketa Community College.
He earned a bachelor’s degree at Grinnell College and both a master’s degree and a doctorate in philosophy at Pennsylvania State University. He has been farming vegetables organically for more than 10 years.