2013 Meeting Minutes

February 14, 2013
April 19, 2013
June 18, 2013
September 23, 2013
November 20, 2013

______________________________________________________________________________________

February 14, 2013

21 st VFSC MEETING MINUTES
Virginia Farm Bureau
12580 West Creek Parkway, Richmond, Va

ATTENDING
Eric Bendfeldt, VCE
Spencer Neale, VFB
Catherine Digilio-Grimes, School Nutrition
Dominic Barret, Anti-Hunger
Emily Manley, Local FoodHub
Lynda Fanning, VDA, Secretary
Rick Felker, Farmer, Vice Chair
Christy Gabbard, VT /Catawba Sustainability Center
Dale Gardner, Water Stewardship, Inc.
Leanne Dubois, VDACS
Molly Harris, Lulus Local Foods
Heidi Hertz, Obesity Prevention Coordinator
Allie Hill, Homegrown Virginia, Treasurer
Don Loock, PEC, Chair
Janet Aardema , VABF
Andrea Early, School Food
Rachel Burns, BFBL
Mike Waldmann, Society of St. Andrew
Sarah Weeda, VSU

WELCOME, INTROS AND THANKS FOR THE VFB VENUE:  Don Loock, Chair
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Lindsay Reames, VFB, Asst Dir. Of Governmental Relations

  • Jan-Feb is intense (think: 3000 bills in 10 days), and they change quickly and often, i.e., Del. Orock’s bill on Home-processed foods (i.e.,sale of pickles) and other direct sale products; it changed 5-6 times before the committee.  It would relax restrictions of the sale of certain foods, with required labels for producer name and address and that it is not subject to Va. Regs. Supported by VICFA. Passed Committee.
  • Del McQuinn’s Resolution for a Food Desert Study was not passed; she requested the Dept. of Health to conduct the study, but they had no funds available. Since the point was to study and bring attention to food deserts and a potential policy, Speaker of House Howell is asking the Deans of VSU and VT respectively to drive determining a Policy Solution or Community Solution. The Council could have a role by proposing to expand the Oct. Urban Ag Summit with Michael Van Ness to include Food Deserts. It could then feature Dels McQuinn, Cline and Byron at the event and then move toward specific policy/bill for GA 2014 session.  Note that the Health Dept referred this to the Va. Food System Council assuming its public advocacy (more on this below).  The letter to the Deans would need to be cc’d to the Task Force on Nutrition and Obesity: includes Heidi and Catherine.
  • Del. Lingamfelter’s “Right to Farm Act” or “Bonita Bill” based on one farmer’s experience of paying fines on her farm due to her sales of non-farm products.   It allows the ability to sue re: zoning; however, it has taken a mind of its own, now has a reenactment clause meaning it has to come back up in 2014 and is largely a broad anti-government message.  A non-rural business which meets all the regulations and costs of bricks and mortar and parking, etc could not compete with a farmer in a nearby rural area (zoned agriculture) selling the same products (say, candles, art, artifacts, furniture,  etc). In Committee
  • Per Catherine, the School Breakfast Resolution was encouraged by the Superintendent of Education, but Sen. Mc Dougle did not want to “regulate”; so the GA may send a letter supporting such a resolution but not actually pass it.
  • Urban Ag Month Bill: October of every year. Promotes city gardens and farmers markets, etc., introduced by Del. Kathy Byron; passed committee 2/14 as Council met.

QUESTION: WHAT IS OUR LEGISLATIVE ROLE? Discussion by all.   Since opinions differed, this may need clarifying… whether our role is  “influencing legislators” and/or supporting a bill publicly as a group or supporting a bill as individuals in the context of the group; it is also a challenge for us as volunteer VFSC Directors  to follow daily during GA and communicate among ourselves almost instantly whether any of the very frequent changes and additions affect our support.

  • Some Council Directors are not allowed by their job position or agency to publicly support (or not support) a bill.
  • Some asked how can we NOT take a stand, given our Mission, our Strategic Plan, and the F to T priorities, and be involved in policy as a group. Can names of Directors unable to do so be left off.  Or should we just speak for ourselves or our respective agencies which can take a public stand. Or should we tweak the by-laws to clarify our role, to be more workable.
  • Chair Don Loock suggested we move toward “Up Front” education of legislators, beginning in, say, July, bringing issues to their attention and then offering to help data/research-wise or guidance for them.  Discussed the power of raising our visibility through personal meetings/calls/ talking point sheets, especially with chairs/members of Ag/Food-related Committees; also at the opening of GA have a legislative day for a blitz of visits, or a booth at GA or both.  The point being they learn who we are and that we’re a resource and that they can approach us to help them write or work on legislation.

NOTE: THIS IS ADDED HERE SINCE THE MEETING AND AFTER CHECKING OUR RECORDS.  In our application for tax-exempt status, the 1023, we (Chris, Eric and Lynda) answered “No” for the question:   “Do you attempt to influence legislation?”  We were in some desperation to get this application in by a deadline and without a hitch. If we had answered “Yes” we may have had to fill out another form and at least we would have been required to describe whether our attempts to influence legislation are a “substantial part of our activities.”  I believe we could make a case that to date our focus on influencing legislators is neither “substantial” nor our highest priority and that virtually no money has been spent on it.  Under these conditions, we may be OK to “attempt to influence legislation”, not as lobbyists but as taking a stand for our Mission and educating legislators about its benefits for Virginia. Just Fanning’s perspective.

SUMMIT ON URBAN AG IN OCTOBER:  Eric and Spencer   Michael Van Ness has contacted 85-95 legislators, has reached out to Arlington County for their Urban Ag Task Force for info and help; the Summit’s Day 1 would be an Education component for legislators and their aides. If their emphasis is only on Urban Ag, then we as VFSC could spearhead the Food Desert focus. We could do this by using USDA maps, and Share Our Strength, and  (as described above)  Del McQuinn’s Resolution and Speaker Howell’s letter requesting the Deans of VT and VSU to produce a report on policy needs re food deserts Spencer will contact Michael Van Ness re including Food Deserts. 

MOTION THAT THE COUNCIL PARTICIPATE AND THAT MIKE WALDMAN AND DOMINIC BARRET REPRESENT THE COUNCIL TO COLLABORATE WITH LYNCHBURG GROWS AND OTHER AGENCIES FOR THIS SUMMIT ON URBAN AG.  Y BY MOLLY, SECONDED BY CATHERINE; UNANIMOUS VOTE OF APPROVAL.

REPORT ON THE VIRGINIA F TO T CONFERENCE IN DEC. AT BLUE RIDGE COMMUNITY COLLEGE: ERIC

  • First, many thanks to Eric for leading this effort, doing the work and giving the Council credit for this highly successful and practical/helpful conference, with great speakers.
  • Based on the Conference inputs/outcomes, the Shenandoah Valley Food and Farm Work Group has established sub-work groups for the following:
    • Local Finance and Community Capital for Local Food and Farm Initiatives.
    • Soil Ecology and Soil Health
    • Commercial Kitchen Incubation and Shared Use
    • Needs for artisanal flour production
    • Food Hub needs.
  •  Re: Finance issues mentioned above:  We hope to have Gary Matteson (speaker on farm finance issues) come to educate the Council on farm credit and loans during the year.

WEBSITE:  Discussion by all.    Will work toward collecting best practices and local stories, like Rappahanock’s Farm to School, like Page Co’s $20K to support Farm to School, as well as several videos and You Tubes, such as Janet’s “Why Do I Farm?” and Eric’s on JMD Farm’s efforts to protect waterways leaving the farm   http://buylocalshenvalley.org/creating-a-culture-of-conservation-jenny-and-millard-driver-jmd-farm/  Sweet Stem Farm’s parody of Adele’s song “Cheek to Cheek, etc. (these stories have been presented via the Newsletter and website as well)

FUNDING: NEED TO CLARIFY OUR PLAN FIRST, WHERE WE ARE GOING AND HOW GET THERE. See Committees below (Development) for who will work on this. Council emphasis for 2013 will be on Farm to School, Urban Ag, and Food Deserts; we will seek alliances, associations, and cooperatives in order to help us get financial support for our priorities. In regards to seeking alliances, association and cooperatives.

IDEAS TO CONSIDER FOR HELPING FARMERS:  Help individual farmers with their needs (tech? labor? environmental issues?) Adopt a farmer program? Put farmer profile features on the website? Be a sounding board for farmers.

LEGAL GUIDE: Don

  •  IT’S GOING TO HAPPEN.  Sue Ellen Johnson (PEC) is overseeing.  There will be a meeting in March to finalize the outline and determine the right people to author the sections; some pro bono lawyers are on board; will need VDACS folks to be included for statewide consistency.

NOMINATING REPORT: Molly

    • BIG THANKS TO DON FOR SERVING AS CHAIR AND TO RICK FOR SERVING AS VICE CHAIR.
    • SPENCER ENTHUSIASTICALLY WELCOMED AS CHAIR AND MOLLY AS VICE CHAIR
    • Vacant Seats: Local Government and Institutional Food Procurement; several candidates named which the Nominating Committee will interview and recommend to the EC for the vetting process.  Final candidates’ info will be emailed to Council Directors for their vote of approval by email, so that at next meeting all hands will be on deck. THOUGHT WILL BE GIVEN TO AREAS OF VA THAT NEED MORE REPRESENTATION.
    • Anthony Flaccavento who helped launch the Council in 2009 has been invited and has agreed to rejoin bringing a wealth of knowledge, experience, leadership, and connections to work done in other states.

MOTION TO APPROVE CURRENT EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE TO CONTINUE IN 2013: DALE, WITH A SECOND BY ALLIE.  UNANIMOUS YES VOTE.

$10 CAMPAIGN TO EXPAND WITH VDACS PUNCH CARD AT FARMERS’ MARKETS:  Leanne Dubois

      • This is a mutually beneficial marketing opportunity to promote our VFSC Mission, as well as VDACS’ Virginia Grown Sales, also the EBT/SNAP Farmers Market program, and a way to track participation.
      • As publicized for some time, VDACS will provide a $700 CSA subscription for a drawing Mid-March 2013 from all Virginians who have pledged to spend $10/week since last March’s Kickoff of the Campaign.  WE HAVE 220 FARMERS’ MARKETS IN VIRGINIA.  A STATEWIDE FARMERS MARKET OPENING DAY WILL BE ANNOUNCED AND INCLUDE THIS DRAWING AND THE LAUNCH OF THE NEW $10 /WEEK PUNCH CARDS.  MATERIALS WILL BE PRINTED TO GET OUT TO THEM.
      • Leanne brought a sample punch card which consumers will find specifically at Farmers Markets (Our current recruiting of $10/Week pledgers, as we have over the past year, can happen anywhere, at various events, etc.)
      • CUSTOMERS WHO PARTICIPATE WILL BE ASKED TO “REGISTER” AS WELL AS TAKE OUR ONGOING PLEDGE BY SIGNUP SHEET OR ONLINE VIA OUR WEBSITE OR VDACS’ WEBSITE WHICH WILL LINK, BEHIND THE SCENES, TO OURS. Leanne asked to Managers to present the sign up sheet when they receive fully punched punchcards.
      • With the punch cards, customers who spend at least $10 at a Market per week get one hole punched and when all holes are punched, turn in to Market Managers for both a statewide drawing, possibly a reusable bag or for whatever incentive that particular Farmers’ Market adds:  could be weekly or monthly drawings for a Virginia Grown bag full of market products, or an invitation to a harvest dinner at the season’s end, etc.
      • The Attorney General will review the program. (what does this mean…please explain)
      • VCE AND BFBL can also participate and be promoted as win/win.(How will this be done?)leave
      • Marketing of this program will bring attention to the reasons for eating local:  deliciousness, food quality, the economy, health, getting kids involved and learning where food comes from, canning and freezing opportunities, recipes, saving heirlooms/heritage foods, getting to know your farmers, etc.
      • Various logistics are yet to be determined, and Leanne/VDACS will meet with the statewide meeting of Farmers Market Managers in early April, to get their input for how best to carry forward this expansion of the $10/Week Marketing Campaign.  Leanne will let us know the results of that meeting to fine tune the program.
      • Many thanks to VDACS and Leanne and Heidi for working on this program.
      • Our original $10 Pledge needs to reach out to Healthcare and Higher Ed.  Institutions with appropriate pledge amounts.  See Committees.
      • A SUCCESS STORY WAS LAST YEAR’S PUNCH CARD IN THE SHENENDOAH VALLEY REGION.

COMMITTEES: Lynda

    • As written in the Letters of Commitment or Recommitment for 2013’s Council Directors, sent out in late fall, each Director is expected to choose at least one committee that most matches your expertise/passion/experience. HERE ARE COMMITTEE VOLUNTEERS SO FAR BUT ROOM FOR MORE:
      • EDUCATION AND OUTREACH: CATHERINE, JANET, LYNDA (reaching out to higher education/healthcare)
        • INCLUDES $10/WEEK CAMPAIGNS: HEIDI, CHARLES, RACHEL, CHRISTIE
        • INCLUDES WEBSITE: SARAH, JANET, MARIA
        • INCLUDES SUMMIT ON URBAN AG: DOMINIC AND MIKE
        • DEVELOPMENT (ESTABLISH A STATEMENT OF OUR PRINCIPLES/ SPECIFIC THINGS TO ACCOMPLISH and FUNDING: RICK, DALE, DON, ERIC, ALLIE
        • RESEARCH: SPENCER, ERIC, MOLLY, EMILY, ANDREA
        • INCLUDES AGGREGATION/INFRASTRUCTURE
        • NOMINATING: ALLIE, CHRISTIE, MOLLY, LYNDA
        • LEGISLATIVE: DOMINIC, DON, SPENCER
        • NOTE: PLEASE SEND TO LYNDA which committees you would like to be on.   ALSO: Spencer has volunteered to draft a description of each. WILL SEND CONTACT LIST IF NEEDED. (Need Description of Committees) 

TREASURER’S REPORT:  Allie

        • Bank Account Balance &  BMF balance .

Respectfully submitted: Lynda Fanning, Secretary

______________________________________________________________________________________

April 19, 2013

22nd VFSC MEETING MINUTES
Science Museum of Virginia
2500 West Broad St.,
 Richmond, Virginia  

ATTENDING
Spencer Neale, VFB, Chair
Catherine Digilio-Grimes, School Nutrition
Lynda Fanning, VDA, Secretary
Rick Felker, Farmer
Molly Harris, Lulus Local Foods, Co-Chair
Dale Gardner, Water Stewardship, Inc.
Heidi Hertz, Obesity Prevention Coordinator
Don Loock, PEC
Maria Van Dyke, Secretariat
Sarah Weeda, VSU
Dominic Barret, Anti-Hunger
Janet Aardema, VABF

Welcome:

I.    Financial Report, Maria (for Allie): Bank account balance.
II.   Nominating Committee, Molly:
A.    Food Acquisition for Institutions: (formerly Chris Carpenter):
John Nichols, Food Service Director of Inova System’s Fairfax Hospital has accepted this role. He works for Morrison Healthcare, a sector of Compass USA; both Morrison and Compass have a strong sustainability and local food philosophy.  His alternate will be Seema Wadhwa, Director of the Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI) and the Director of Sustainability for Inova Health System. They have adopted a Buy Fresh, Buy Local Chapter and are working on increasing percentage of procurement of locally grown foods. NOTE: The Council intends to encourage hospitals statewide to pledge a %  of  local food procurement and then to recognize these institutions and their progress/success stories reaching this goal, including website recognition.  The goal % amount is to be determined, 5%- 20% or more, then continual increases over time.

B.     Local Government: 
Anthony Flaccavento, our former Charter member and Director from 2009-10 with his wide-ranging expertise, experience, and connections, extending beyond state lines.

C.      Nominating Committee will recommend replacements for Jan and potentially Judy Berger.
III.      Weight of the State Conference, Heidi: 
This recent annual Conference drew 400 participants; had a track of talks on Food and Environment, “Farm to Where You Are” with our own Catherine as one of the speakers; served some local foods on lunch menu, and many related topics including community gardens in Waynesboro, becoming a CSA, even a worm party.  Heidi will do a write-up of this track.

IV.       Announcement: June 26th a Farm Tour event by VDH: 
Dominic reported on this event at Fulton Hill, Church Hill areas of Richmond, plus a Healthy Corner Store Initiative, with media kick-off.

V.          Food Deserts, Spencer:
instead of the legislature-initiated study requested by Del McQuinn, a letter has gone from Speaker Howell to the Deans of VT (Allen Grant) and VSU (Jewel Hairston) asking them for a report on food deserts in Va., prior to next GA, probably early to mid-fall. We, the Council, have responded and offered to help as they determine what policies are needed to eliminate food deserts in VA and how this is a state issue. And we expect them to solicit help from Eric B (VCE data) Dominic/Leslie/Mike (lots of data from all).  Data also is in the Strike Force program, as well as Mrs. Obama’s work with USDA.  We will defer to the Deans’ management of this effort.

VI.       Urban Agriculture (food production for low income inner city locations), Spencer: 
Michael Van Ness has applied for a grant and is initiating a Summit for Spring of ’14 by first bringing together a workgroup to plan the Summit and determine actions to promote Urban Ag. Statewide. He will need help with organizing/planning/ finding sponsorship (VFB can help with that), and has made a list of stakeholders to be on this group, to meet at his non-profit Lynchburg Grows.  Two on the group will be our own Directors: Dominic  and Mike W.  Sara knows a farmer in Petersburg who is a “boots on the ground” urban farmer who would bring practical experience to the table.  Dale emphasized that not just food but water quality, watershed and rainwater collection are important considerations.  A number of Directors could have input here, even if not in the official group: Heidi for health, Christy, Rachel, Anthony, etc.  Spencer will follow up with the two deans.  The hope is to pre-file a bill by 12/6/13.

VII.   Committees, Spencer:
the Council will more likely reach our goals if we have  a division of labor as 5 standing committees, to be  reestablished each calendar year; here is a draft of committee roles which Spencer will continue to develop:

A.        Education and Outreach:

Support Council goals/objectives by educating and engaging a diverse statewide audience, i.e., consumers, educators, healthcare agencies, public and government agencies at all levels.  Includes $10/week Campaign, website, and events/summits such as the Urban Ag Summit, 2014.

B.        Development:
Develop a statement of Council principles from which they may identify and pursue funding opportunities for both specific programs and ongoing administrative support.

C.         Research:
Gather, evaluate, analyze data that is relevant to our goals and objectives and present to Council as written or verbal reports including economic data and demographic info such as inner cities; also, data re all sector areas: production, harvesting, processing, aggregation, distribution, consumption, and marketing.

D.        Legislative:
Identify important issues to bring to the attention of legislators; offer to help them with data/research or guidance in the area of food system issues.  Work to raise VFSC visibility in Va Government so they know we are a resource. Hold an event/table/banner, or lobby day at GA.  Contact/visit key legislators.

E.           Nominating:
When a Director resigns, this committee collects bios and references statewide, including but not limited to the previous director’s recommendations; then vets and recruits a replacement based on expertise, passion for our mission, commitment to participate actively on at least one committee and attend quarterly or more meetings, and on directly representing the sector vacated.  Committee Chair presents candidates to EC for approval; at next Council meeting candidates are presented for a vote of approval.

VIII.       How Committees Operate, Spencer:
A.            Each committee to have a Chair appointed by VFSC Chair and at least 3 other Directors, who volunteer per expertise/interest, or if necessary, appointed as well; Directors may serve on up to 2 committees, but may chair only 1.
B.            Chairs ensure regular communication (conference call, email or in person) among the group, ensure focus on defined tasks, and produce reports to Council as necessary, and at least twice/year.
C.             Committees will look for collaborators from entities represented on the Council as well as non-Council members when needed to further the mission of the Council.
D.            Committees will get approval from the full Council when taking an official stand, or if issues are time-sensitive, the EC may approve.
E.            Committees bring to Council worthy issues, programs, projects that fit within their committee description.  And conversely Council may direct the committee to pursue programs and projects that it deems worth of action.

IX.       Legal Guide, Don:
The working group for this guide has met and is fleshing out the outline of key points, dividing up individual sections, getting the right experts.  Will meet again May 9 and determine level of detail in each topic. The guide will define the issues, then indicate who oversees each issue, what has jurisdiction over  each issue, (i.e. regional, county,  department), and generally what info is needed by the farmer.  May consider having a forum on our website for the issues that come up for farmers, when we have the manpower to monitor it. The NC’s Legal Guide is a model.

X.          USDA StrikeForce Initiative, Catherine. 
This is a new program, rolled out a couple of weeks ago to hit the ground running in those 14 states (including Va.) with areas/Counties of egregious poverty. Has till now been a pilot in 3 states: Ark, Ga & Mi.  Especially good for farmers with problems where this available funding provides just what they need to successfully grow their businesses.  These needs may include fencing, irrigation, building a well, a high tunnel, etc.; after this, their businesses can much more likely grow and succeed.  A letter has gone out to heads of agencies across the state, and we will see a lot of resources coming into Va., especially in rural areas.  Catherine has had multiple meetings with USDA, and Farm to School is a big part.  There will be two pushes in Va. The Strike Force and expanding participation in Core Programs such as the school breakfast program and summer meals program (SFSP) participation. USDA will be pouring resources into Va. And a USDA representative may present at our next meeting.

 Janet: farmers need to be made aware.  Education and Outreach committee/website could put a link or resource page on our website re Strike Force in VA.

XI.       Development Committee, Rick:
In order to show funders our overall “Path to  (Financial) Sustainability” and that we can ultimately act as a seed-money grantor (one of our original goals), Rick is formulating our Council focus areas and the annual funding needs for each.  Also, he will be asking each Committee to determine THEIR funding needs for the specific areas they are tasked with.  The focus areas he highlighted are:

Focus Area 1:  Educating the public and institutions on the benefits of a local food system: publicizing the $10/Week Campaign, as well as statewide summits, forums. 
Ideas to further educate, including their costs, such as:
1.          An interactive piece on our website, re: use of Farmers’ Markets
2.          Even better, develop an actual $10/Week App, with a QR (bar code), and with a front end data base acting as a catcher of consumers’ info, which then presents nicely online.  Have a statewide list of Farmers’ Markets in the database, so consumers can enter what they spent at which farm.  Farmers would have an incentive to provide the QR.  Apps could be accessible anywhere, even at grocery stores. BFBL could help promote.  Parents could get the message via schools; big campaign during Farm to School week.
3.          Spread throughout state agencies doing work with wellness, childhood obesity, etc.
4.          Investigate how to raise funds and attract donors, possibly charging for ads of those businesses that fit into our mission/philosophy
5.          Be an advisor for other orgs’ initiatives (charging 5-6%), “sponsoring” apps as a “backer”.
6.          Hire a film-maker to produce a short or medium length video that can help us spread the word about the Council, who we are, our story, our campaign, to be used to generate funds or to connect with legislators.
a)     Note: Lynda will check with Director of the Meet the Farmer series, Frank Melli; he already has over 70 episodes of footage from Va. Farms,  and find out what it would take to create such a video.
Annual Funding cost?    __________

Focus Area 2: Be a major statewide information resource for all who are working toward Virginia’s local food system.
1.       An online resource for any info re Va’s local food system
2.       Increasing council staffing.
Annual funding cost?__________________

Focus Area 3 : Support local food initiatives that can potentially benefit still other local areas or possibly even a statewide impact, as a seed money grantor with a state-wide perspective. 
1.       Provide small grants
2.       Provide letters of support and endorsement of local food initiatives
Annual funding cost?________________

XII.   $10/ Week Committee, Heidi and Maria:
On Earth Day Maria will choose randomly and a press release with quotes from Spencer and from the winner will be used.  The winner was to be invited to the opening VDACS event which may not happen.  Will determine based on the area the winner is from to use a local event for official recognition.  Would be an opportunity to pitch what the campaign is and promote the spirit of it.  Can use the winner/ news-worthiness even at events in the fall. Each Director is asked to look for media sources in own area to spread the word re:  the winner and the Campaign story.

Respectfully Submitted, Lynda Fanning, Secretary
_______________________________________________________________________________________

June 18, 2013

VCE Southeast District Office.
2810 N. Parham Road, Suite 300

ATTENDING
Spencer Neale, VFB, Chair
Molly Harris, Lulus Local Foods, Co-Chair
Catherine Digilio-Grimes, School Nutrition
Rick Felker, Farming
Don Loock, PEC
Maria Van Dyke, Secretariat
Sarah Weeda, VSU
Shalom Farm Intern, alternate Anti-Hunger
Janet Aardema, VABF
Andrea Early, Schools
Michael Waldman, Social Justice
Allie Hill, Local Food Group/ Infrastructure
Rachel Burns, BFBL
Charles Green, VDACS
Crystal Tyler-Mackey, alternate VT
Jim Harmon, USDA-FNS guest speaker
Dave Gagliardi, USDA-FNS guest speaker

Minutes
I.        Approved Minutes from April 19th Meeting
II.       Financial Report 
III.      USDA StrikeForce (see link: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/va/newsroom/releases/?cid=STELPRDB1097227)
Jim Harmon and Dave Gagliardi of USDA Food Nutrition Services presented the goals and potentials of the StrikeForce initiative to boost rural economic growth and opportunity by means of increasing partnerships and leveraging community resources in targeted, persistent poverty areas of Virginia and 12 other states. NRCS is the Lead Agency for StrikeForce assisting (land-use programs) followed by the FSA (Loans, Disaster Assistance and Credit)and Rural Development (financial & technical assistance) and FNS. The USDA-FNS office works closely with VDE School Nutrition, VDACS, WIC, SNAP, +EBT. Virginia was selected as one of the key states because the counties of Lee and NorthHampton met the StrikeForce Definition of rural persistent poverty regions including the well known poverty areas of Tidewater and SW Virginia.

INCENTIVE: StrikeForce is a Performance Driven program, therefore the money pot gets bigger as a state grows their programs.  This can only help Va in years to come.

FOCUS: Specifically VA StrikeForce strategy for 2013 is to ‘Connect Children with Farmers’. This means Va will focus on better coordinating several of our current programs including: Summer Food Service program, School Breakfast Program, Farm to School program, Know Your Farmer, Know your Food Tool, EBT at farmers markets, WIC/SNAP as well as VSU programs in targeted counties.

WAYS VFSC DECIDED to ENGAGE with STRIKEFORCE:

  • VFSC asked Jim and Dave if they could be invited to a StrikeForce Board Meeting to further coordinated efforts
  • Rick Felker of VFSC who lives and farms in the Tidewater region offered to speak before the StrikeForce board AND help share the resources, contacts and programs that StrikeForce is working to expand in that area. He offered to hold a meeting/gathering.

IV.     Legal Guide
The guide is still being headed up by PEC Staff and Lead Sue Ellen Johnson with Spencer, Don, Maria, Charles, Dale and Allie contributing various chapters. Legal parts of guide will be written by a hired consultant using Blue Moon Funds.  VFSC’s main task after contributing to the writing of this guide is to market the guide by means of our far-reaching council directors. A rough draft of the Legal Guide will be presented to the council at our next meeting September 24th in the Valley for feedback. Blue Moon agreed to extend our final report until April 2014. Once finalized, we will hold a Press Release.

Legal Guide Working Timeline:
June 27th –                1st Draft Due /Meeting
Sept 24th –                Draft ready for council to comment on at meeting
December –             Final Draft

V.        Announcements and Updates

  • $10 a Week CSA media event was held this past Wednesday, June 19th see Press Release
  • USDA Rural Small Business Connection Event –  This training event will provide small businesses with a series of educational networking sessions and opportunities on how to build capacity and successfully do business with USDA and other Federal agencies.
  • Food Day participation by VFSC (discussion) –
  • Molly volunteered to re-develop the slide show she made for Food Day 2012 to distribute for this year’s Food Day 2013. We would then launch it onto our website and send the URL to events taking place in areas where our directors work in coordination with Food Day coordinators. Molly asks that the entire council send her images of food projects, businesses, events, etc… that she can add to the slide show. Andrea and Maria communicated with the coordinators and they said they would help with distributing slide show and that they would like those that are on our council who are having food day events to register their event on the FoodDay.Org website. Maria told them that the council cannot host an event but that we can help facilitate the cause through coordination assistance and the slide-show.
  • Education & Outreach Committee will help in this coordination.
  • Urban Agriculture Summit
    • Michael van Ness has stated that ‘planning’ for the summit will start in the next couple of weeks.  He requested help.  Lindsay Reames from Farm Bureau as well as VFSC’s Mike Waldmann and Dominic Barrett will be a part of these planning and coordination meetings.
    • Summit (if funded) will be in Spring 2014
    • Food Desert Report (VT, VSU, VCE and VFB)
        • Jewel Hairston and Ed Jones have scheduled a Conference Call on July 11, 2013 to begin addressing this report. The VFSC directors that will be on that call are Leslie van Horn, Dominic Barrett, and Heidi Hertz.

      VI.     Development Projects
      1.      Film for Fundraising

      VFSC film for Fundraising and Education – See attached Film document for discussion of Frank Melli, Camtasia and Squid & Beard Productions.  There is consensus that the most important task is to ‘Clarify the Focus’ of the video and to plan how we want it to play out.  We need to have a well developed vision in order to get exactly what we want.  From this consensus a discussion progressed which began to narrow down our vision.

      • Developing  Focus of VIDEO
      • 5 minutes or less
      • Show the diversity of the Board
      • Illustrate the Network players in the Va Food System
      • Each director says what brought them to the ‘council’.
      • Look at other states for video they might have done.
      • Other ideas for identifying a filmographer
        1. *ACTION: Don Loock suggested Center for Environmental Film Making in DC – He will look into this and communicate with the Development and Education & Outreach Committees.
        2. *ACTION: Allie presented the MU Film Documentary Class/Dept. –She will research a possibility of having a class do the film.
        3. Other Ideas for getting footage:

        VFSC could borrow footage from Farm Bureau’s ‘Rural Virginia’ and footage from Society of St. Andrew (SoSA).

      • The VFSC directors could contact food infrastructure bodies all over Virginia and request footage or picture/description of their project to put on film.
      • 2.      Grants to Apply to in 2013

        (*Rick will work with Development Committee to find  a ‘consensus on the focus for funds’ and ‘develop a funder list’.)
      • Community Innovation Grants (RFP 8/2013)
      • Wallace Center
      • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
      • Wholesome Wave Foundation
      • (*Tanya – dealt with a funder – ask her for name)
      • 3.      Grants to apply to in 2014
      • Healthy Food Financing Initiative (7/2/2013) likely a similar date next year.
      • VII.  Committee Assignments
        We voted whether all directors accepted their assignment– This was Approved!  Deliverables from each committee will be identified at each meeting. Not all committees will have an assignment each quarter and work will shift between committees depending on projects we are involved in at various times during the year.

        The Council also approved a motion to ‘build committee meetings into our quarterly council meetings’. In general, we will take the last hour of each meeting to do this (1:30-2:30).

      • Deliverables from each active committee from this June Meeting
      • Education and Outreach (E & O)
      • Food Day – Committee will help Molly reach out to VFSC directors and others around the state to collect images for slide show.
      • Website – StrikeForce information added.
      • Committee will plan needs for Development, SNAP info, Food Day and other Pledge Campaign materials
      • Film Development – Assist in Developing Film/Grant focus to report to Development Committee who will be advised on further progression of ideas.
      • Development (Dev)
      • Identify grants to apply for in 2013.
      • Dev committee will look into the Community Innovation Grant, which is thought to be a grant that will also support capacity building.
      • Developing the idea for film and how to proceed with E & O Committee. Allie and Don will report to Development Committee about their findings. From there Committee will decide whether we should ask for footage from people all around the state to add to film
      • Nominating (Nom)
      • Eric and Spencer are contacting Linda Cronin (FSA) and Kathy Holm (NRCS)
      • The Council identified the need for another grower or producer on the board.
      • o Andrea offered to contact some producers that she works with that may be interested in contributing to the council mission.
      • o ALSO: There is a possibility that Christy Gabbard may be willing to switch sectors (Action: nominating committee will contact her).
      • ______________________________________________________________________________________

        September 23, 2013

        Tour: 2839 Lumber Mill Rd, Dayton Va.
        Board Meeting: One Court Square, Harrisonburg, Va.

        ATTENDING
        Spencer Neale, VFB, Chair
        Molly Harris, Lulus Local Foods, Co-Chair
        Rick Felker, Farmer
        Don Loock, PEC
        Maria Van Dyke, Secretariat
        Janet Aardema, VABF
        Andrea Early, Schools
        Allie Hill, Local Food Group/ Infrastructure
        Rachel Burns, BFBL
        Charles Green, VDACS
        Lynda Fanning, VDA, Secretary
        Dale Gardner, Water Stewardship, Inc.
        Christy Gabbard, Sustainability
        Eric Bendfeldt
        Susan Kamaravel
        Linda Cronin
        Kathy Holm
        Kristen Suokko
        Several guests from Farm to School Network

        TOUR, SHENANDOAH PRODUCE AUCTION:  Jeff Heatwole, Market Manager. See October 2013 Newsletter for more information.
        Welcome, introductions, & thanks to Andrea Early
        Minutes of June18 Meeting: Moved by Rick, seconded by Rachel, and unanimous vote to approve.  Spencer
        New Directors presented: Susan Kamaravel (Morrison Healthcare), Linda Cronin (USDA), Kathy Holm (USDA), Kristen Suokko (Local Food Hub).  Short discussion in their absence, motion to approve by Dale, seconded by Don, and unanimous vote to approve.

        Urban Agriculture Summit with Michael Van Ness at Lynchburg Grows.     Spencer, Eric, etc.

      • Per 2012 GA, October is Urban Ag Month.  M. Van Ness is Chair and Spencer is Co-Chair of a committee driving a summit on Urban Ag for 4/15-16, 2013 at Kirkley Hotel with 150-200 expected participants; hopefully will be annual event.
      • VFSC Directors participating on Committee: M. Waldmann, Dominic Barrett, Leslie Van Horn, along with VT, Va. State, and the City of Lynchburg.
      • Planning an Economic Development Track and a Health Track
      • Food Desert Report.  Spencer
      • Per Del. Quinn’s Resolution of 2012 GA to determine Virginia’s Food Deserts and action needed.
      • Deans of VT and VSU assembled task force to ground-truth this issue and produce 12 page report by 12/1/13 determining Virginia’s status, and any implications of legislation needed.
      • Data will be collected using USDA’s Food Desert Locator, and will look at all issues of food access/food insecurity (9-30% in areas of Va.).
      • The report will focus on 5-6 regions; some areas have already been assessed including Harrisonburg and Richmond City.
      • Given political climate, could be couched as “terrible problem” or “economic opportunities.”
      • VFSC should potentially be the group to carry this task force forward after the initial project.
      • INOVA HEALTHCARE, 5 hospitals 2 nursing homes, N. Virginia: Susan
      • Both Inova Sustainability Program and its contracted food service company Morrison Healthcare are passionate and progressive about the connection between food/nutrition and health. Morrison early on signed up with Partnership for a Healthy America,  with specific goals to reach by 2016; Inova has just assessed their baseline and are already at 83% of those 2016 goals.
      • Inova hosts a BFBL Chapter, partners with local community with activities such as education: Chefs to schools.
      • Inova has created a recipe book.  Proceeds from sale of recipe book support Inova’s Double Dollar SNAP Enhancement program at local farmers markets.
      • Inova’s annual food purchases: $16 million; are partnering with Blue Ridge Produce are measuring and tracking local and sustainable purchases, which are increasing annually and have increased by 7%.  This purchase is significantly higher in growing season, but not yet at a consistent 10% average overall, which is our current campaign effort.
      • For local purchases need predictability of supply (biggest obstacle). As a vendor, they don’t need consistent price so much as they need predictability in supply at least a few weeks’ lead time (Susan);
      • Morrison is contracted to several healthcare systems in the Mid-Atlantic region, like Inova: Sentara, Bon Secours, Medstar, Novant); Susan sees opportunity  for these systems to create  a partnership for developing their own local food hub to connect with numerous growers.
      • Will assist the Va. State University Nutrition interns to help launch the 10% Farm to Institutions Campaign.
      • Questions/comments by various Directors about institutions buying local:
      • “A food hub takes the burden off farmers to connect with institutions, but farmers need  a pre-season commitment from institutions for projected purchases.. It has taken farmers 4 years to trust that the LFH will be buying their harvest consistently. ” (Kristen).
      • “We now have enough produced for Farmer’s Markets and stands; need to build supply in order to service institutions”,
      • “need GAP”,
      • “farmers in general need to diversify”
      •  “While ramping up  this needed production, farmers need to be environmentally aware, esp. of sediment produced adherence to TMDL’s (Total Max Daily Land Nutrient Load).” “For example, clam production is being decimated by red tides created by run-off from rainfall; the food system needs to explore increasing production hand in hand with howit’s raised”;
          • Labor and Scale: Production needs to increase with demand but we need to hold environmental standards high.  Can we find or develop a program to tell the producers what is needed by the institutions and they can sign up to cover a portion of that need? (Dale)
          • Capitalize on PR of sustainability (Channel 4 news, etc)
          • “an institution’s procurement standards could include water quality standards by producers.”
          • “VABF’s role is to maintain standards and promote farmer training.  At VABF’s Heritage Harvest festival there was only one ‘organic’ producer”.
          • “The Ag Stewardship Act: water going off your lands can’t pollute; it’s the law, but need to build awareness.
          • What we have is “voluntary conservation”; “need to get Virginians to see the food system comprehensively.”

        10% Farm to Institution Campaign: Maria
        Interns are working on helping institutions see the food system more comprehensively by:

          • Creating a survey of questions for healthcare institutions re purchasing local, both for small and large hospitals, and for both self-operated food services and those contracted to corporations like Morrison, Sodexho, or Aramark.
          • Getting the info and recognition  for these institutions on the website

        Clarifying barriers for the various sizes of institutions

          • Surveying some other non-hospital institutions (nursing homes)
          • Maria is working on setting up a planning meeting with help from NC’s Teisha Wymore of the NC 10% Campaign.
          • We will look into Assessment Tools in Philadelphia at Fair Food Organization; conference call October 23rd.
          • Rick offered to council interns on conservation priorities.

        AARP MEETING with Brian Jacks: Molly, Maria, Spencer

          • AARP is developing a tool kit for building councils;  will feature VFSC on one page; report coming at end of Oct. Discussed how we could help this bringing together of food councils or how we could be a forum or platform to share among all councils and then work in conjunction with them.
          • Consider asking Brian Jacks to present report at the Dec. 4-5 Farm to Table Conference (Eric)
          • Discuss with Brian the elements of the VFSC strategic plan that state this as an action goal and that we should be the group that furthers this task because the issue is bigger than just elderly.

        UNC WEBINAR: A great opportunity to learn from NC’s experience of partnering with local governments to  promote local food, food system councils,  economic development, etc.  

          • ALL DIRECTORS CAN VIEW THE WEBINAR AT NO COST (https://unc.ncgovconnect.com/p72949299/).   Spencer provided the $125 fee to make it available for you.  Thanks, Spencer.
          • NC has a database to take buy local pledges, and make it available to us for $10,000.  Has been purchased by TN, CN, MA, etc. Teisha Wymore is contact…may set up conference call to learn more about this potential decision, depending on funds.
          • This could be the needed “expansion” of our $10/week program.  NC blazed the trail for NCS, UNC, CEFS (NC State).  Per Don we could make the economic driver case, as he reviewed their numbers and concluded a $53 million impact.  So a good argument for database for hospitals and institutions as well as households.

        MID-ATLANTIC FOOD POLICY COUNCIL WEBINAR:  (October 31, 2013 at 2:15) Webinar audience is elected officials.  VFSC invited to present 15 minutes about our organization, by two Directors: Spencer and Eric, who are working on the Power Point to include roughly:

          • Assessment & Recommendation: State-wide food system assessment Farm to Table, (how is this assessed & then how are recommendations made and implemented)
          • How do locally grown foods improve the food system? Talk about $10 a week Campaign to educate consumers and how this supports local agriculture, viable farming, rural economic development and describe link to healthy food ACCESS by all economic levels.
          • Theme: Emphasis on supporting production aspect of food systems, some local food projects, any growth in Farm to School.(Farm to School drafting of resolution passed by house, Wholesome Wave Grant, gleaning, Summits (3 going on 4), Website, working on building city/county/regional food councils, partnering with other state groups)
          • Incorporate how the VFSC was created; its composition and uniqueness (public, private, business, non-profits, disciplines); acting as a statewide resource; partnering with other states/groups, etc..

        TREASURY:  Allie and Don

          • Balance
          • Grant funds  balance dedicated to staffing salary (healthcare and retirement costs have increased) and to website
          • Have unspent, unbilled funds for Legal Guide; to be clarified.

        COMMITTEE REPORTS:

        • Update of Committee Guide to be sent out in October.
        • LEGAL GUIDE:  Don.    Have outlines in depth, identified most of contributors, have gotten help from VDACS pushing for end of year completion.
        • DEVELOPMENT:  Rick and others.  Need the Blue Moon progress perspective; consider our doing webinars and charging, consider having “Friends of the Council” who contribute and are recognized;  do a re-grant program (giving out grants raises visibility), Counties/Regions may support,  revisit Aquafund, appeal to businesses already with missions that parallel ours. Consider PASA (Penn. Assoc. for Sust. Ag.) charging $50 for use of our resources: put out classified ads on website, etc.  Talk to County Boards, the Ag and Forestry Industry Development Fund. Rick would like committee to put together a “Who Are We and What Do We Do” document.
        • EDUCATION AND OUTREACH: Farm to Table Conference at Blue Ridge Community College, December 4th and 5th.  Allie Hill will potentially discuss her canning facility at a breakout group. Collecting stories for website/newsletter on National Food Day Oct. 24; Va. Farm to School Resource Guide PDF  hot off press 9/3/13,  with questions to ask farmers, anecdotes, etc.  Statewide Efforts by Groups Report: Roanoke and New River are doing a livability Study,   Goodlatte, Darby and Feldmann are hosting farm days where producers sell to their clients.

    Respectfully submitted: LF, Secretary

    ___________________________________________________________________________________

    November 20, 2013

    Homegrown Virginia’s Cannery, 7916 Abilene Road, Farmville, Va.

    ATTENDING
    Spencer Neale, VFB, Chair
    Rick Felker, Farmer
    Don Loock, PEC
    Eric Bendfeldt, VCE
    Janet Aardema, VABF
    Allie Hill, Local Food Group/ Infrastructure
    Lynda Fanning, VDA, Secretary
    Kathy Holm
    Heidi Hertz
    Sarah Weeda
    Dominic Barrett
    Leslie Van Horn
    Mike Waldmann
    Charles Green

    Minutes approved for 9/24/13 board meeting, motion by Don, with unanimous vote.
    Treasurer’s Report: remains at $35.
    Farm to Table Conference Dec. 4-5 at Blue Ridge Community College.  Will include a breakout session with local and regional “councils” or food-related working groups across Virginia, Dec. 4, 1-2:30 to discuss their organizations’ structure, goals, support needs, and ongoing communication between them and the VFSC.     Will need several directors to attend. Expected groups are:  Chesapeake Foodshed Network, Fredericksburg Area Food Group, NOVA Food Coalition, Lynchburg Area Food Council, Richmond Food Policy Task Force, Shenandoah Valley Food Forum, Urban Agriculture Task Force, Appalachian Foodshed Project, AARP.

    Farm Bureau’s Local Food Conference 2014- a Farm to Institution Workshop:  TBA very early March. Sponsored by Va FAIRS and VCE, aided by VFSC.  Molly is driving this meeting along with Martha Walker (VCE)  and Chris  Cook (Va FAIRS).  Our role is to help via committee to plan agenda, speakers, sessions, and specific invitees.

          • Will include success stories, participants from Hospitals, Universities, Military, Corporate Vendors (Morrison, Sodexho, etc), distributors, producers; also a SWOT analysis, and defined goals.
          • Cost is taken care of by Farm Bureau, etc.; however, Development Committee  (Rick) asked if there are any fees we might charge (i.e., to exhibiters), to build our treasury.
          • Don reemphasized need to include the military as an institution, as there is demand and need for fresh healthy local food (not just for better quality but also for health: soldiers’ weight issues preventing re-enlistment).  Second in command is Mike Tyson who purchases Va. produce for them.  Other military connections:  this food, if not sold within 5 days, goes to Mike Waldman’s organization.  Charles ‘s marketing folks have relationship with them as well.  Their “Fleet Magazine” includes how to find local food.

    Urban Agriculture Summit will be held April 15-16, 2014 in Lynchburg.  They will show the film “Growing Cities” the night before.  Dominic, Leslie, Mike, Spencer, Eric are among the planners, with 150-200 participants expected.

    Food Desert Report: (Per Del. Quinn’s Resolution of 2012 GA to determine Virginia’s Food Deserts and action needed.)

          • Eric and Leslie are on this 30-40  task force, led by Deans of VSU and VT, (Dept. of SS, AARP, VCE, Va. Southern Poverty Law Center, VT, VSU, federal govt., Anthony Flaccavento, etc.) ; it has met 5-6 times.
          • Whatever recs the report ultimately includes will need to be coordinated, and could be a good fit for  the VFSC.  Will include maps and tables.
          •  Leslie’s food bank staff are advocating to/educating legislators.

    New Governor’s Transition Team for Ag and Forestry:

          • Dominic is participating and will formally inform about VFSC.
          •  Mrs (Dorothy) McCauliffe is a very strong advocate of our own mission and goals.

    News by Eric:

          • USDA’s NRCS is developing a coalition; Va SARE to advocate for soil health!  We need to write a letter to support it and send out to Council for approval;
          •  National Fish and Wildlife is providing a 3 year grant to expand BFBL, and to pilot Farm to Institution, while developing a more of a regional food system.

    News by Allie:  Virginia Food Works  Workshop January 15.  Eric is bringing a vanload from the Shenandoah Valley.  This organization needs a new board member if anyone is interested.

    News by Janet:

          • VABF’s annual meeting will be held Jan. 31-2/1, 2014.
          • Has been awarded a grant by VDACS for a Richmond Regional Specialty Sustainable Farm Tour next fall.
          • VABF is also looking for 3 new Board members.

    Note: Discussion about interim council-wide decision making led to this conclusion: Executive Committee may in practice make recommendations to Council by email communication; if any Council members disagree, they can speak up, but if no response EC can move forward .

    VSU News:  VSU Marketing submitted a grant proposal to FSMIP (Federal State Marketing Improvement Program): will develop marketing for local items, will be research-based via data on  farmers, consumers, institutions and middle men, all to see how we can improve marketing local; for example, how do labels impact sales?

    10% Farm to Institution Campaign

          • Maria is working on hosting NC’s Teisha Wymore or her replacement Robin Stout of the NC 10% Campaign at our next meeting re their $10K database.
          • Much discussion of maps and our website maintenance, as well as the  $10/Week tally, currently $745,000 has been pledged on our website.

    VFSC to Give Awards

          • To give recognition, i.e. to legislators, to producers for soil health or water conservation,  for environmental successes, food desert successes, infrastructure successes, Businesses, Institutions, etc.  To be overseen by the Education and Outreach Committee.

    Committee Breakout/Reports:

          • Education and Outreach
            • Last year’s Punch Cards Program (for spending $10 on local)  and raffles (basket of local or drawing for CSA or invite to a Harvest dinner)  was very successful in the Williamsburg Farmer’s Market; need more education or “selling” to other market managers when they meet in March. The goal here is to attract customers.  Would be good to survey Farmers’ Market Managers on what worked for you; what would you change, etc. LeeAnn is driver.
            • Website needs work/adjustment for content of main tabs.
            • Janet agreed to speak at the Farm to Institution event in early March for the “organically –raised” aspect of local; how to enable more growers to be organic to meet the demand that many institutions will want.  Eastern Carolina Organics is a success story for organic farmers.
            • Legislative Committee:
              • Will research existing food Councils for common issues. (Maria has begun working on this)
              • Need to clarify what we stand for: Tax incentives? Healthy soil? Farm to Institutions? SWAM businesses?
              • Development Committee:
                • Eric and Kathy H have been reaching out to Aquafund  (Cecily Kihn) for funding for staff position, and for regranting.
                • Dev. approves of Ed. And Outreach’s priorities: Farm to Institution, Council as resource with a robust website, re-energizing the $10/week Campaign, a short video, (perhaps narrated slides, very flexible and easy to change; with most of our member agencies having a slide or maybe 2).
                • For funds, consider Directors’ demonstrating commitment by  $ contribution to support our goals.
                •  Also, consider a Richmond Metro-area function during Governor’s transition with donated local food/wine and celebrity draws .
                • Make an outright plea for funds as a tax deductible contribution, here at the end of 2013.  Look at the Univ. of Tn Extension program’s annual report which lists what they work for (i.e., protect the environment) then have a request form for donations… ERIC WILL PUT SOMETHING LIKE THIS TOGETHER.   Event that highlights what we do and what we are for with First Lady, celebrities…above. Need an invitation list/. If it meshes with your priorities. Rick is the point person for this.
                • DON WILL TALK TO ACCOUNTING about transfer of funding .
                • DON’S QUESTION: HOW ARE HEALTH FUNDS BEING USED FOR LOCAL (See recent $100 million for health in Fauquier Co.)

    Respectfully submitted: LF, Secretary; edited: Maria van Dyke