Following the Summit, beginning on November 30, 2007 through December 2008, an informal working group met eight times to discuss and coordinate the formation of a Virginia Food System Council, several times sending a delegation to meet with the Secretary of Agriculture and staff, to discuss the need for such a Council and whether best to work from an Executive Order or independently; all concluded to go independently. On March 18, 2009 the Virginia Food System Council officially met for the first time at the Darden School of Business in Charlottesville Virginia and began formally working to strengthen Virginia’s local and regional food systems.
Mission of the Council:
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.
Vision of the Council:
We envision a sustainable food system contributing to the health, economic vitality and social well-being of all Virginians.
Original Leadership Team Contact Information:
Eric Bendfeldt, Chair – VirginiaCooperative Extension
Christopher Carpenter, Vice-Chair – Washington & LeeUniversity
Lynda Fanning, Secretary – Virginia Dietetic Association
Katherine Smith, Treasurer – VirginiaAssociation of Biological Farming
At-Large Executive Committee Members:
Matt Benson – Virginia Cooperative Extension
Mike Foreman – Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation
Molly Harris – Richmond Area Food System Council, Edible Garden, Lulu’s Local Food
Spencer Neale – Virginia Farm Bureau
- Amy’s Garden
- Appalachian Sustainable Development
- Blue Ridge Area Food Bank
- Cavalier Produce
- Center for RuralVirginia
- Harrisonburg City Public Schools
- JeffersonArea Board for Aging
- Mattawoman Creek Farms
- Piedmont Environmental Council
- Produce Source Partners
- RichmondArea Food System Council
- Society of St. Andrew
- The Local Food Project at Airlie
- VirginiaAssociation for Biological Farming
- Virginia Beach Department of Agriculture
- VirginiaCooperative Extension
- VirginiaDepartmentof Agriculture & Consumer Services
- VirginiaDepartmentof Conservation & Recreation
- VirginiaDepartmentof Health
- VirginiaDietetic Association
- Virginia Farm Bureau Federation
- Washington & LeeUniversity
- WilliamsburgFarmers Market
A Proposal For A
Virginia Food Policy/System [Council]
NOTE: The following is a beginning DRAFT outline for a collaborative body – tentatively named the Virginia Food Policy Council. These ideas are based on discussions at the first meeting on November 30, 2007 of stakeholders following the Virginia Food Security Summit. All of the following language is intended simply as a starting point for discussion and is not intended to set anything in stone.
Rationale and Overarching Goals
Virginia’s food security is dependent on numerous different sectors of agriculture, economic enterprise, institutional networks, as well as important social services and outreach, which together comprise Virginia’s food system.
An officially sanctioned advisory body – tentatively named the [Virginia Food Policy Council (Council)] (would another name be better? Forum? Task Force? Commission?) – will be established to provide a multi-disciplinary cross-sector approach to Virginia’s food security. The [Council] will offer a valuable opportunity to different sectors of the food system to work together in a collaborative forum for mutual gain.
Using the Community Food Security Coalition definition, the goal of the [Council] is to enable all Virginians to obtain a safe, culturally acceptable, nutritionally adequate diet through a sustainable food system that maximizes community self-reliance and social justice.
More specifically, the [Council] will offer a central place for:
- networking and linking groups that have not previously had a place or easy mechanism for information exchange (e.g., between agriculture, economic development, public health, nutrition, hunger, social justice, and schools);
- development of practical and policy solutions, addressing regulatory barriers and opportunities, to make it easier for Virginia’s farmers to provide food to citizens of the Commonwealth;
- production, processing and distribution policies
- procurement and purchasing policies
- development of specific pilot or demonstration projects, initiatives, or programs arising from discussions or specific regional needs, to explore new and effective ways of increasing healthy, nutritious and safe connectivity between all Virginia’s farms and tables;
- ideas: spawn “local foods initiatives” around the Commonwealth, including those that are brand new and those, like ASD’s work, that are a bit more developed.
- development of improved education to attract and maintain new farmers, to support existing farmers, and to educate the general public about Virginia’s food system issues;
- ideas – engage the community college system to provide classes to attract and educate new farmers; sponsoring regular commentaries on “solutions” in the Richmond, Roanoke and Tidewater papers, and on public radio as a way of informing and educating the public]
- identify and support the research needed to support other [Council goals], including community or regional food assessments.
- an initial study identified as important would be a) the understanding of regulatory and perceived (financial, physical, conceptual) barriers at the grass-roots level, and b) opportunities and ideas for changes, including producers, distributors and end-users such as schools and institutions.
- providing a clearinghouse and showcase for ideas and initiatives undertaken by groups at the local or regional level, or nonprofits, or others;
- [ideas – website; annual “tour” for legislators and agency people]
- make specific recommendations on Virginia’s food security to appropriate governmental or other bodies;
By pursuing these activities, the [Council] will also be serving larger goals important to the Commonwealth:
- supporting agriculture as a key economic engine of the Commonwealth, in the face of pressures of growth, climate change, terrorism, and rising energy costs;
- supporting food-based economic development for revitalizing rural Virginia and low-income urban neighborhoods;
- improving availability and access to Virginia-produced food, to increase the state’s food security and reduce the threat of potential interrupted food supply in times of international terrorism and rising energy costs;
- reduce the high public health cost of obesity by improving the availability and consumption of a healthy, nutritious diet to all sectors of Virginia, including youth and seniors, and rural and low-income populations;
- support food safety through cost-effective mechanisms for production and distribution of untainted, safe food products;
- supporting and encouraging the development of new economic networks, small businesses, and industry for processing, storing, and distributing Virginia-grown products to Virginians;
The VFPC will be officially sanctioned by the Virginia Governor and state legislature, while operating as an independent advisory forum.
The VFPC will be housed and operated by ……[????]
Options: a new nonprofit, an existing nonprofit, Virginia Cooperative Extension, University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, other state university
Funding will be sought from multiple sources, including a mix of state, corporate, and private foundation funding. Initial start-up funding will be sought from: __________.
The VFPC will be a representative stakeholder body consisting of representatives from the following sectors. Representatives should include a mix of both membership organizations and individuals doing the actual work in the field.
- Farming: small and large scale; different commodities/products; different methods of farming (from conventional to organic)
- Distribution networks: grocers, farmers’ direct marketing association, etc.
- Public Health and Nutrition
- Food Safety and Hazards
- Anti-Hunger and Food Banks
- Social Justice: Housing, Race, and Low-Income Populations
- Virginia Cooperative Extension
- Economic Development: both rural and city
- Academia: community college system (training for farming community)
- Academia: state universities (policy, planning and research)
- Lending institutions for farmers
- K-12 school food purchase policy
- Farmers Markets
- Consumer Supported Agriculture
- State agencies: regulators, educators, assistance
Initial – Founding – Organizations Supporting This Concept (for grants and other purposes)
- o Agencies/ organizations
- o Virginia academia:
- University of Virginia – School or Architecture (Department of Urban and Environmental Planning);
- University of Virginia Health System – Department of Nutrition Services
- Virginia Tech – College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (Deartment of Food Safety and Technology); Conservation Management Institute
- Virginia Tech – Virginia Cooperative Extension
- [?Community College:]
- o Agriculture:
- Virginia Farm Bureau
- Virginia Association of Biological Farming
- Virginia State Dairymen’s Association
- Virginia Agribusiness Council
- Local Food Project at Airlie
- Appalachian Sustainable Development
- o Distribution:
- [?Farmers Direct Marketing Association]
- [?Consumer Supported Agriculture (Assn?)]
- o Social Justice:
- Blue Ridge Area Food Bank
- o Economic Development
- Center for Rural Virginia
- Central Virginia Small Business Development Center
- o Other Supporting Organizations
- Community Food Security Coalition