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The Virginia Food System Council: Collaborating to strengthen Virginia’s food system from farm-to-table Webinar - Food Policy Councils: Recipes for Success.

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Presentation on theme: "The Virginia Food System Council: Collaborating to strengthen Virginia’s food system from farm-to-table Webinar - Food Policy Councils: Recipes for Success."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Virginia Food System Council: Collaborating to strengthen Virginia’s food system from farm-to-table Webinar - Food Policy Councils: Recipes for Success from the Local, County, and State Levels October 31, 2013 Presenters: Eric Benfeldt, Va. Cooperative Extension & Spencer Neale, Va. Farm Bureau

2 Formation of the VFSC May 2007 – Virginia Food Security Summit ◦ Convened by University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, and participating organizations Key recommendation to evaluate establishing a state food policy council ◦ Informal working group meets regularly in 2007 and 2008 March 2009, 1 st official meeting of VFSC ◦ Has met at least quarterly since that date IRS 501©3 designation August,

3 Make-up of VFSC 24 directors from participating organizations ◦ Operation governed by formal by-laws ◦ Directors represent specific sectors of food system, private and public sector ◦ Additional resource organizations involved Executive Committee of eight, including chair, v-chair, secretary and treasurer Committee Structure ◦ Education & Outreach, Development (funding), Research, Legislative & Nominating 3

4 Key issues early on… Independent vs. state government sanctioned and state appointed or independent body “Policy” Council or “System” Council Much deliberation over use of the word “sustainability” in organizing documents ◦ Example of seemingly innocuous item that ended up becoming major discussion issue 4

5 Vision We envision a sustainable food system contributing to the health, economic vitality and social well-being of all Virginians. 5

6 Mission Working to advance a nutrient-rich and safe food system for Virginians at all income levels, with an emphasis on access to local food, successful linkages between food producers and consumers, and a healthy, viable future for Virginia’s farmers and farmland. 6

7 Who makes up the VFSC Agriculture (4 seats) State Government (5) Va. Coop. Extension Anti-hunger Public Health Local Government Sustainability Conservation Food Supply & Distribution Rural Development Consumer Senior Services Local Food Council Social Justice Schools Institutional Buyer 7

8 Some of our Participating Organizations Federation of Virginia Food Banks Harrisonburg City Public Schools INOVA Local Food Hub Lynchburg Grows VA Association for Biological Farming VA Cooperative Extension VA Dept. of Agriculture Mattawoman Creek Farms Piedmont Envir. Council Society of St. Andrew Shalom Farms VA Dept. of Health VA Dietetic Association VA Farm Bureau Virginia State Univ. Virginia Tech USDA Lulu’s Local Food 8

9 So what encompasses a food system : Nutrition, food, and health Farmers, processors, distributors, consumers, community Social and economic development Agriculture and the natural environment Local identity, history, and culture Values of people and policies of a society Food access and availability for all Government, research, education Public and private sector working hand in hand “Social and Economic Embeddedness in the Community.” ~ Thomas Lyson, Civic Agriculture 9

10 Community and Social Viability Farmland Preservation Economic Development Healthy Individuals and Food Security Jobs Environmental Stewardship Small & Medium Scale Farm Viability Distribute Waste Disposal Growing Food Process Prepare Eating Retailing Community- based Food System Adopted from CS Mott Group at MSU 10

11 Goals Bring together a wide variety of organizations and interests Bridge policy with on-the-ground activities Avoid initiatives that approach Virginia’s food system in a piecemeal or divisive manner. Improve the availability and accessibility of healthy, nutritious food for all Virginians. 11

12 Goals and talking points Enhance farm profitability and viability Educate Virginia residents of all income levels about the social, economic, environmental, nutritional and health benefits of a locally- integrated food system Eliminate barriers that hinder local food purchasing by institutions 12

13 Current & Past Areas of Concentration Farm-to-School Week Farm-to-Table Assessment and Plan Development Enhance EBT/SNAP capabilities at farmers markets Outreach to policy makers (ongoing) $10 a week initiative (consumers) 10 % initiative (institutions) Urban agriculture (societal gap couple with economic development) 13

14 Some Take Home Thoughts Be open minded as to who should be at the table Be patient and stay the course in early formation stages Don’t be overly ambitious in adopting too many projects, especially early on ◦ Learn as you go Develop ways to involve all in projects ◦ Engage all, don’t let a few do all the heavy lifting (burn-out) 14

15 Take home thoughts… Strive to learn and understand food systems and production beyond your boundaries, big picture ◦ Be careful in favoring or choosing certain production practices over others as guiding principles One size does not fit all, learn from other similar groups and initiatives Depending on scope of work, paid staff may be a necessary luxury ◦ Funding not easy to find 15

16 Thank you 16


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