Group Launches Council to Influence State-Level Policy Decisions
SANFORD, FL – The Florida Food Policy Council will meet on Saturday, June 24th, at the Bettye D. Smith Cultural Center in Sanford, Florida, to officially launch the grassroots effort that members hope will influence policy decisions at the state level.
Organizers began the effort in the fall of 2015, following the Florida Local Food Summit in Orlando. For the next 18 months, the group held meetings around the state to gather membership and information to better understand the policy issues common across the regions of Florida.
With that work done, the findings of the statewide tour will be unveiled at the June meeting. Members in attendance will elect a council board, and decide the priorities that the council will tackle on behalf of Floridians in the 2018 legislative session. This is the first in what will become annual membership meetings in the new iteration of the Florida Food Policy Council.
Food is big business in Florida. Following the drought in California, the Sunshine State has moved into the top spot for tomato production in the United States. Florida also ranks 10th in beef production, and grows 59% of the country’s orange harvest. However, hyperlocal produce and craft breweries are making a splash in consumer minds across the state as well. Community organizations are turning out local food solutions to combat hunger in underserved areas, and healthier food options in schools are seen by many as a valuable tool for improved performance.
Those involved stress that the council is for everyone, and that fair and inclusive food policy is the goal. Farmers, retailers, educators, entrepreneurs, and public servants will mingle Friday evening at Wop’s Hops, getting to know each other before convening Saturday to decide the direction of food in Florida. Mark Winne, author of Closing the Food Gap: Resetting the Table in the Land of Plenty, will serve as keynote speaker and facilitator for the event. Slow Food Orlando is a sponsor.
Attendees will also sample the local fare of Sanford, lunching at restaurants in the city’s historic downtown district. Attendance is free for current members, though registration is required. For those interested in becoming council members and attending the event, the cost of the meeting ticket also serves as annual membership dues, which range from $10 for students to $60 for organizations.