- Youth in the Good Food Movement
- Lessons Learned Building a Nascent Value Chain
- Connect! Convene!
- Wallace Healthy Urban Food Enterprise Development (HUFED) Center News
- Good Food Media Digest
- Add your profile to the NGFN Database
- NGFN Media
Contributing writer: Kathleen Stewart
Two National Networks
More and more young people, especially high school and college-aged youth are not only thinking about their food choices, but also taking action to help scale up good food in their communities. Rooted in Community and Real Food Challenge are two national networks fostering information sharing and best practices in the same vain as the NGFN. These organizations inspire their young members, and demonstrate to them that they are part of the larger effort of food system change.
Rooted in Community (RIC) is a national network of organizations, who work primarily in low-income communities and communities of color. Their work serves to encourage and prepare young people for leadership in increasing the food security of their local communities. As a national network, the organizations engaged in projects such as urban agriculture and community food security seek to increase their knowledge and skills, increase public awareness, and to foster and promote leadership in young people.
Real Food Challenge (RFC) is a national organization of students who advocate for healthy, just, and sustainable food on their college campuses. Not only does Real Food Challenge provide tools for students to increase the procurement of good food at their colleges and universities, it also acts as a national network consisting of regional networks. THis structure allows students at different campuses to connect and learn from one another, further expanding the good food movement.
Young People are Getting Involved
Youth are getting involved at every level of the food movement from changing their own eating habits and encouraging others to do the same, to increasing access to fresh healthy food in their communities, and even assisting their school to change their food buying practices.
Maya Salsedo began her food system journey at Food, What?!, a youth empowerment program where teenage youth grow, cook, eat and distribute healthy sustainably raised food. Now, as the Youth Organizer for Rooted In Change, and a member of the advisory council, Maya acts as a point person for interested high school students to speak with, and be engaged in the network. “[Young people] are historically catalysts for social change. There is a niche for high school students to be involved so that a cultural shift in food habits can take wind,” she says. Through the organizations involved with Rooted in Community, youth are leading the effort to increase access to fresh food within their communities in ways such as growing it themselves and working with producers in their own communities.
Tim Galarneau, member of the Real Food Challenge Administrative Team and Advisor for the West Coast Region, recognizes the importance of engaging university students. By allowing young voices to be heard, food buyers are encouraged to invest in the real food movement. He states, “we need to engage youth in the peer to peer network of changing their eating habits and inspiring their peers to do something different.” David Schwartz, campaign coordinator for Real Food Challenge says that students are actively involved in advocacy and service-based projects at their colleges and universities to achieve real change within their institutions.
Students involved in the Real Food Challenge bring change to their schools while benefiting local producers in the area. For example, members of the student organization Fair, Local, Organic (FLO) at the University of North Carolina, worked with their campus to start purchasing pasture raised pork from a local producerin an area that is dominated by large industrial pork production. These efforts have helped the rancher scale up her business -- she is now working with 5 other schools in the area.
Samantha Meyer, a recent graduate from Pomona College, turned her work using Real Food Challenge’s Real Food Calculator into her thesis project. She was able to determine what percentage of the food coming into her dining hall could be considered “real” food: locally-grown, ecologically-sound, fair or humane with this Real Food Challenge tool. Her findings acted as a call to action to the student body and administration to change the college’s purchasing
Building the Cause through Networks
As a network, Rooted in Community holds regional gatherings and a national conference in which youth are actively involved in organizing and leading workshops for their peers. Maya Salsedo says these events give groups of people from historically underserved communities the opportunity to learn from one another and see the depths of the injustices that are taking place around food. She goes on to say they empower youth through food and assist them in realizing their strength as individuals and as a group.
Hank Herrera, the project director for Rooted in Community, says, “youth are often surprised that there are other youth doing similar work in their own communities, which inspires them to continue over the years.” Maya further states as their young members are able to see the scale of the movement, their “level of engagement back home is kicked up a notch from the inspiration they get at the conference.”
Tim Galarneau recognizes the importance of connecting students involved in Real Food Challenge at their own campus to a larger network. He finds that as students realize that there are 350 campuses and 3500 skilled leaders across the nation doing similar work, they feel like they are a part of something and gives them a hunger for change.
Real Food Challenge also offers leadership trainings and annual food summits such the Western Region’s “Strengthening the Roots: Food and Justice Convergence”. At their next "convergence", they are reaching out to other organizations and planning the event with CANFIT, California Nourish, and organizations involved in Rooted in Community showing the power of expanding your network to other organizations doing similar work. Real Food Challenge has also partnered with Community Food Security Coalition’s Farm to College Program and the Student/Farmworker Alliance, which Tim says gives student groups an opportunity to become “allied with other groups to amplify the work that both groups are doing.”
Youth As Leaders
Both Rooted in Community and Real Food Challenge provide youth with opportunities to learn the skills to become leaders within the movement. Through Real Food Challenge’s grassroots training model, David Schwartz says students get to “really understand how food companies operate and what the levers for change are. They leave with real, hard skills to make changes at their schools."
“To foster leadership in youth, you have to explicitly acknowledge youth as leaders and respect them as such,”states Hank Herrera. David Schwarz says the Real Food Challenge, “starts from the premise that our work is led by students and youth and we are always looking for direction and feedback from our youth.” By encouraging young people to be leaders and having networks to support and enhance their efforts, they become geared up for a career in leading the good food movement.
To learn more about Real Food Challenge and their work, tune in to the NGFN Webinar, Real Food into Universities: A Billion Dollar Challenge.
Lessons Learned Building a Nascent Value Chain
Contributing writer: Ilana Blankman
Connecting farmers and restaurants in Santa Fe, New Mexico is not a new idea; members of the local food community have been working in this arena for many years. However the Santa Fe Farm to Restaurant Pilot Distribution program sought to bring accountability, consistency, and efficiency to the interaction between producers and chefs. In other words, we sought to create a true value chain. As a case study lesson, what follows is my experience as a hired facilitator in this process.
When the Santa Fe Alliance, a nonprofit membership organization building a stronger local economy, asked me to help them develop the program, I was as excited as a honeybee in spring. I was finally able to put what I had learned about the value chain methodology (from the NGFN and other mentors) into action. I wanted to see boxes of apples and salad greens moving, and I wanted to see tourists and locals feasting on local food on purpose.
Our value chain development process began in summer 2009 with a series of interviews of Santa Fe restaurant chefs. Our goal was to understand what kinds and quantities of local products restaurants were interested in buying, and what their process needs were (ordering, payment and distribution). These interviews also identified restaurants that would likely be good value chain partners. We then reported the buyers needs to producers at several information sessions across the state. The meetings also included a brief introduction to the value chain methodology. We then interviewed the other side of the value chain: all the producers who expressed an interest in participating in the project. We spoke about how much product they grow, and attempted to ascertain how reliable they could be as a supplier.
Using the restaurant and producer interviews, we selected about 15 from each group to serve as the Farm to Restaurant (F2R) “design team.” We organized meetings with the producers as a group and, separately, the restaurants as a group. In each meeting we sought to get a deeper understanding of their collective needs, preferences, and capacities. We used this information to develop a draft “value chain agreement” (borrowing heavily from the NGFN-Michigan Sysco project) that outlined both the values of the value chain and the rights and responsibilities of each party (producers, restaurants, and the pilot distribution entity we would be creating).
In April of 2010, we presented this draft agreement to the F2R design team (both restaurants and producers) and asked them to make changes to it until it was something they could live with. It was a surprisingly easy process. The result was a system that had strong logic, a good footing in reality, and it got some boxes of apples and salad greens moving.
Though the Pilot has moved about $27,000 of produce, and we are proud of this success, there are many lessons we have learned which will help us to increase the capacity and efficacy of the F2R program.
We learned that our brief presentation to the restaurants about value chains was far too brief. Value chains are complex and subtle enough that participants need a solid understanding before it is reasonable to expect success. Trust, for instance, is pivotal, and takes a while to build.
The fact that we could dream up a value chain agreement and get 30 entrepreneurs to agree to it with only slight modifications meant that our stakeholders were not fully engaged in the process. There was not enough commitment from restaurants to make the value chain economically viable, not enough commitment from producers to make it consistent, and not enough knowledge on the organizers’ end to make the distribution efficient … at least in the pilot year.
We have learned a lot about some of the most important pieces of business arrangements for each party. Restaurants like product delivered directly to them, dealing with one invoice, and getting lots of free advertising for buying the tastiest, freshest produce possible. Producers like selling in volume, not spending a lot of time on transportation of their product, and getting paid quickly with no hassle.
After our first year in the project, I am no less enthusiastic for the program or the process, but my giddiness has been tempered by a new understanding of the time and effort it takes to develop the kinds of relationships needed to create accountability, consistency, and efficiency in an industry where just about everybody is overworked and/or underpaid.
There are some very exciting upcoming events in Good Food. Here are a few you might want to attend to learn, connect and share.
Come on down to New Orleans October 16-19 for the fourteenth annual Community Food and Security Conference. With a full plate of tours, workshops, pre-conference sessions and more, the organization that has led national organizing around food, culture, and justice invites you to come and experience "the gumbo that unites us all!"
Wholesale & Regional Food Hub Conference, Philadelphia, PA, Nov 2-3, 2010
The National Association of Produce Market Managers convenes market managers to tour the new Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market. Representatives from USDA, Wallace Center, and Project for Public Spaces will engage the market management group to investigate more of what markets across the country are already doing to promote local and regional food distribution, what additional work or services they can provide, and finally what collaborations and partnership can be established to provide more services to their respective communities.
It Takes a Region: Northeast regional food system convening in Albany, NY, Nov 12-13
The Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG) convenes this November 12-13 meeting of practitioners and advocates in the northeast to explore the concept and reality of regional food systems: What they are, and why and how to build them. The event in Albany, NY includes pre-conference trainings on Nov. 11. NESAWG is a regional lead team of the National Good Food Network, convening the full spectrum of food buyers, producers, distributors, community leaders and more.
State of the Plate in Chicago, Nov 17
State of the Plate is the Midwest’s first one-day conference to develop and share best practices, information, and strategies for creating a sustainable meat supply in the region. The event is a forum for chefs, restaurateurs, food purchasing agents, culinary students, faculty and decision makers from all aspects of the hospitality industry to meet producers and distributors to learn about current trends and differences in production methods. The goal is to offer larger scale purchasing alternatives designed to reduce public health and environmental threats. Threats include the misuse of antibiotics, insufficient space for food-animals, poor hygiene, and contamination. This event promises to bring together the best in the field to educate, enlighten, and offer experiences while providing excellent food and demonstrating different economical and socially responsible ways of doing business. More, including schedule and registration, at http://www.stateoftheplate2010.com.
The Healthy Urban Food Enterprise Development Center at the Wallace Center at Winrock International recently announced their first year enterprise awards. The HUFED Center, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture (formerly Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service or CSREES), supports greater access to healthy affordable food in communities across the country. HUFED is unique in that it will provide grants and technical assistance for enterprise development and focus on getting more healthy food—including local food—into communities who have limited access.
Caleb Zigas and Leticia Land of La Cocina are Named The Hitachi Foundation's Yoshiyama Young Entrepreneurs
“What do used coffee grounds, blighted lands, multi-ethnic breads, and agricultural waste have in common? For The Hitachi Foundation's inaugural class of Yoshiyama Young Entrepreneurs, these are not only business opportunities but means to address economic inequality in America.”
La Cocina of San Francisco, California has been a fixture in the Mission District community since 2005 and works with food business incubator participants to devise ways to improve the quality and healthiness of their businesses’ products, to source from local and organic food producers, and to develop green business practices. La Cocina is awarded a 3-year large enterprise award to increase the opportunities available to limited-resource entrepreneurs – most of whom are women, immigrants, and people of color--who want to become owners of micro-enterprises that offer low-cost, healthy food options to traditionally underserved communities. This enterprise will work with business incubator graduates to pilot mobile market street carts serving healthy ethnic food; the project will benefit low-income food entrepreneurs and their communities.
The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) Helps Launch Minnesota’s First Annual Farm to School Week
“It's harvest time in many parts of the country. In Minnesota, schools, students and agricultural producers are celebrating the state’s first annual Farm to School Week (September 20–24). Local small- and mid-size farmers' produce is making appearances on lunch trays in districts around Minnesota. Farm to School Week was initiated by IATP and the Minnesota School Nutrition Association (MSNA).”
Source: IATP Newsletter ; also see the press release.
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) of Minneapolis, Minnesota is an established leader in the field of local foods, rural economic development, and healthy eating. IATP’s Local Foods program focuses on K-12 public schools as a key channel for reaching children, particularly low-income children who are the greatest risk for poor nutrition and health problems. IATP is awarded a 1-year large enterprise award to strengthen the local food infrastructure needed to expand Minnesota’s Farm to School in ways that are financially attractive and sustainable for distributors, processors, farmers, and schools alike. This enterprise will benefit children of color and low-income communities, as well as small- and mid-sized farmers.
LA CAUSA Director Receives Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Recognition as a Latino Leader in the Green Economy
“LA CAUSA Executive Director, Robert Zardeneta was 1 of 20 companies or individuals recently honored at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s Public Policy Conference in Washington D.C. on September 15, 2010. At the closing plenary session titled “Green Economy, Leading the Way”, Mr. Zardeneta was recognized for spearheading his organization’s Green the Eastside initiative, comprehensive community plan to develop a sustainable East Los Angeles.” Source: La CAUSA Press Release. See also: http://www.chci.org/doclib/20109221038523351-LatinoInnovations2010--forweb.pdf?trail=20101014165713 and http://www.examiner.com/urban-agriculture-in-long-beach/la-youth-leadership-group-receives-grant-to-bring-good-real-food-to-east-la
Los Angeles Communities Advocating for Unity, Social Justice, and Action (LA CAUSA) of Los Angeles, California is recognized both locally and nationally as one of the premier youth leadership and community development organizations. LA CAUSA is awarded a 1-year small enterprise award to implement market makeovers to increase the availability, appeal, and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables in East Los Angeles. Market makeovers address the bottleneck lack of healthy foods in small markets and corner stores, and will build on existing processes centered on participation and inclusivity, to build a collective sense of ownership and investment in the community. This enterprise will benefit limited-resource residents and small market owners of East Los Angeles, who are predominantly Latino/Hispanic.
Walmart Unveils Global Sustainable Agriculture Goals
Oct 14-“Walmart today launched its new global commitment to sustainable agriculture that will help small and medium-sized farmers expand their businesses, get more income for their products, and reduce the environmental impact of farming, while strengthening local economies and providing customers around the world with long-term access to affordable, high-quality, fresh food.”
Source: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/walmart-unveils-global-sustainable-agriculture-goals-104945349.html See also this New York Times Article.
FARM TO SCHOOL
Farm-to-School's Teachable Moment: Teaching the value of healthy eating in schools is a great way to fight obesity.
“Schools throughout the country are shaking up the cafeteria through new initiatives to improve children's health while giving a boost to local farmers. It's time to give the mystery meat a break and bring out locally produced apples, squash, tomatoes, and chicken.”
U of M study estimates farm to school’s local economic impact
“Filling school lunch trays with fresh, locally grown foods that are easy to incorporate into school menus can contribute as much as $430,000 annually to a regional economy, according to new research from University of Minnesota Extension.”
USDA Releases Non-Federal Rangelands Health Assessment
“On Friday, October 1, USDA announced the release of a new study evaluating the health and productivity of non-federal rangelands in the western United States, which make up 21% of the total area of the lower 48 states. Findings indicate that less than 25 percent of non-federal rangelands have significant land degradation, but that non-native grasses and shrubs now occur on nearly 50 percent of all non-federal rangeland.”
USDA Announces Grants for Farmers Market Promotion Program to Expand Consumer Access to Food, Promote New Income Opportunities for Producers
“WASHINGTON, Oct. 14, 2010 – Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan today announced recipients of the 2010 Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP).” Source: http://bit.ly/9LOI1H
Earn Your Healthy Eating Badge and Check In with the USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory
“As part of CNN’s week-long series “Eatrocracy: Mind, Body and Wallet,” the USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory is featured in a unique way to encourage consumers to use farmers markets as a source of fresh, local and healthy food.”
Copycat Farmers' Markets Reap a Crop of Complaints
“Fans of farmers' markets don't always agree on the fine points of what defines the folksy bazaars, but they concur on what farmers' markets aren't: chain grocery stores selling fruits and vegetables on their supermarket doorsteps.”
Farmers Markets as an Engine of Revitalization
“‘It is our belief that by supporting our local farmers today, we can ensure that there will be farms in our community tomorrow.’ Kent Myers, former City of Hot Springs Manager Recently Hot Springs, Arkansas dedicated its new Farmers Market Pavilion at the Historic Downtown Farmers Market in Hot Springs, Arkansas. This dedication is the culmination of years of effort that began with a Farmers Market Promotion Program grant in 2006 from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service.”
Fresh Vegetables Where Fast Food Reigns
“... if the bustling farmers’ market is today’s most coveted suburban
amenity, this is one for those pretty much left out of the game. In a
world where the slow-food, eat-local, simple-beats-processed gospel of Michael Pollan
et al. tends to be the playbook only for those with a little (or a lot)
extra to spend, Roosevelt’s new market seems to be prospering, a small
bit of food equity in a world where eating can be pretty Darwinian, too.”
A New Wave of Relief for Gulf Coast Fishing Families
“Chef Michel Nischan's Wholesome Wave initiative has been deeply rooted in the farming community since its inception in 2007, nurturing relationships between communities in need, and growers in search of local customers. Now, Nischan tells Eatocracy, Wholesome Wave is partnering with New Orleans-based non-profit organization MarketUmbrella to offer food buying support, via a new program called MarinersMatch, to Gulf fishing families affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.”
The National Organic Program Provides Instructions on New Access to Pasture Rule
“The new access to pasture rule became effective on June 17, 2010. To assist operations during this implementation period, certifying agents should conduct a full assessment of ruminant operations to determine their compliance with the pasture rule during the 2010 grazing season.”
See also Access to Pasture Rule for Organic Livestock http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5082653&acct=noprulemaking
USDA Announces Rural Cooperative Development Grant Recipients
“USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager today announced $8.3 million in grants through the Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) program to help rural cooperatives expand economic activity in their communities.”
See also: http://bit.ly/dtX3EH
USDA to Issue Over $1.6 Billion in Annual CRP Payments to Producers This Month
“During the month of October, USDA will distribute more than $1.6 billion in annual Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) rental payments to producers enrolled in the program.”
50 Groups Challenge Government Grant to Pro-Pesticide PR Campaign
“More than 50 organizations concerned about the risks of pesticides to human health and the environment have joined forces to fight California officials’ award of a $180,000 taxpayer-funded grant to a chemical agribusiness public relations campaign.”
FDA Aims to Update Its Regulatory Science
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration [October 6th] unveiled an overview of initiatives to advance regulatory science and help the agency assess the ‘safety, efficacy, quality and performance of FDA-regulated products.’”
Senate Leaves Food Safety, Child Nutrition Bills Hanging
“The Senate adjourned Sept. 30 leaving the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act and The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act hanging in the balance until after the Nov. 2 election.”
New Online Tool Helps Users Explore Potential Markets
“If you are a farmer, the age-old question of ‘how much of a market is there?’ has plagued you forever. A new tool may help Iowa farmers answer that question, at least if they grow fruit and vegetable crops.”
Farm Aid promotes family farmers, sustainable food
“Meet Jason Mraz: singer, songwriter, avocado farmer. He's also a link to a new generation of performers and fans set to gather Saturday for Farm Aid, the benefit concert that rolls into Miller Park for its 25th anniversary edition. On a bill that features the likes of music legends and Farm Aid founders Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Neil Young, Mraz provides a dash of pop-chart charisma and will try to bring along legions of fresh-faced fans eager to rally to the cause of good food and family farming.” Source: http://www.jsonline.com/entertainment/musicandnightlife/104128179.html
Spreading the Organic Food Gospel: Generation Organic
“Organic Valley is the largest organic food cooperative in the U.S., encompassing dairy farmers in every region of the country and partnering with major organizations such as Heifer International, the Rodale Institute, and Farm Aid.”
NY County Gets Funds for Processing Local Meat
“In an effort to support local farms and meet the demand for locally raised meat, the federal government has awarded an $800,000 grant toward the construction of a slaughterhouse in Liberty, NY, Meatingplace reported.”
Maple Makers Boil over Imposter
“Anyone who's seen maple syrup made has an appreciation for the work involved…the next time you're in a grocery store and you go by the syrup section you'll notice that Log Cabin has a new product. It's called "'All Natural" syrup and is packed in a cute 22-ounce plastic jug that looks just like the jug 100 percent maple syrup traditionally comes in.”
Kickstarter's growing grass-roots food scene
“Auntie's Fry Bread Tacos, Farm Lot 59, Chill Baby and more. The 'crowd-funding' website connects DIY food projects with donors.”
“The Produce Marketing Association (PMA), Sysco Corporation and Primuslabs.com will hold a local grower training in Orlando, FL on October 13. The one-day workshop is designed to help local growers explore the challenges of implementing a company food safety plan, meet the requirements of restaurant and retail outlets, and above all, protect their business and bottom line.”
Fresh Ideas For Our Food System
“Last Thursday F&W's Features intern Chelsea Morse attended "Fresh Ideas for Our Food System," a reception hosted by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s Food and Society Fellows. The IATP provides fellowships to individuals ranging from chefs to farmers to filmmakers, all working toward creating a healthier and more sustainable food system.”
It Takes a Region: A Working Conference, November 12-15, Albany, New York
Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners Conference, November 19-21, Brooklyn, New York
Women in Sustainable Agriculture, November 1-3, Fairley, Vermont
Visit www.uvm.edu/wagn and click on "2010 Women in Sustainable Agriculture Conference" in the green "Quick Links" box for more information.
Young Farmers Conference, Stone Barnes Center, December 2-3, Pocantico Hills, NY
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