The Florida Food Policy Council will host its second annual membership meeting at the Sanford Civic Center on Saturday, June 23, from 9am to 4pm. Council members will gather to share ideas in a midterm election year that decides Florida’s next Commissioner of Agriculture.
At the annual meeting, members will discuss the upcoming Commissioner of Agriculture candidate forum presented by the Department of Religious Studies at the University of South Florida and the Florida Food Policy Council, to be held at the university on August 2nd.
“This forum represents a wonderful opportunity to hear from candidates across the political spectrum about their vision for how our food is grown, distributed, and sold,” said Frank Wells, CEO of Venture House and FLFPC Vice Chair. “These actions impact every Floridian’s access to good, safe, healthy food, and the environmental legacy we leave for future generations.”
Wells organized the candidate forum with the help of FLFPC board member Dell deChant, Associate Chair of Religious Studies at USF.
“Cooperation between the Department of Religious Studies at USF and the Florida Food Policy Council highlights the engagement of the council with academic communities,” said deChant. “It’s also an opportunity for the department to showcase its commitment to research on ethical and cultural horizons in food studies and sustainability.”
Amidst the excitement of such a visible platform, council members will also discuss plans to identify and connect existing data projects that can provide a multi-layered picture of the health, agricultural, and economic issues facing Florida’s diverse food system.
“The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Florida Department of Health have made joint efforts to identify geographic areas challenged with food insecurity and preventable, diet-related diseases,” said Anthony Olivieri, founder of FHEED, LLC, community food systems consultant, and FLFPC board member. “The council aims to identify policy opportunities in these areas.”
Another objective at the June meeting will be to explore opportunities for strategic partnerships among state agencies, large and small businesses, and human service organizations. The council is looking to expand its partner network and raise visibility leading up to 2020.
“In any large, diverse system, there are many voices clamoring to be heard. Our mission is to promote integrity and collaboration within the food system for the benefit of all Floridians and the environment,” said Rachel Shapiro, Executive Director of Heal the Planet Together, Inc. and FLFPC Chair. “The first step in fulfilling this service is to listen to the Floridians who are already doing great work and distinguish how we can best facilitate integrity and collaboration within the existing framework.”
Since the first annual membership meeting in June 2017, the council has acquired start-up funding, developed a strategic plan, and filed for 501(c)3 status. In the coming year, members will develop a regional network that supports local activity while connecting local efforts to broader statewide objectives. Next steps include the production of policy papers, model ordinance tool kits, and a statewide speakers bureau.
The annual meeting is open to anyone interested in Florida’s food system. Event registration includes one year of council membership. Membership is open to individuals, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies, with a discounted fee for students.