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FLFPC works with Blue Zones Project in SW Florida

7 Dec 2019 9:21 AM | Administrator (Administrator)

FLFPC was recently involved in the first Food Policy Summit for Lee and Collier Counties. The summit was hosted by the Blue Zones Project. 

The event was reported in the Naples Daily News in the article "Blue Zones Project is helping create better food policy in SW FL." 

The article reads, "While eating, chances are most of us do not give a second thought as to the many processes that took place before that food reaches us. While Blue Zones Project has a strong focus on what people should eat in order to live healthier, happier lives, how that food is made available is equally important. That is where a Food Policy Council comes into play. Food Policy Councils convene citizens and government officials to provide a comprehensive examination of a state or local food system. 

Over the course of the last few years, Blue Zones Project has hosted several food policy workshops to determine what the public would like to see in regard to our food system in Southwest Florida. One suggestion that continues to surface is the creation of a Food Policy Council for Lee and Collier Counties. The Blue Zones Project formed Food Policy Committees in both Collier and South Lee County to work on policies chosen by the public, including the creation of a regional Food Policy Council. With the help of committee members from University of Florida IFAS Extension (UF IFAS), Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU), several hunger relief organizations, the Department of Health and now the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council, the mere idea of a Food Policy Council is beginning to take shape.

On Nov. 18, the Blue Zones Project hosted Lee and Collier's first Food Policy Summit in Bonita Springs. Speakers included: Margaret Wuerstle, the Executive Director of the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council, Jessica Mendes Ryals, Sustainable Food Systems Agent with UF IFAS Extension Collier County, Dr. Tom Felke, Department Chair for the Department of Social Work at FGCU, Rachel Shapiro, Chair of the Florida Food Policy Council, and Dr. Maggi Adamek, National Food Policy Consultant for Blue Zones Project.

The topic of food insecurity was brought up at the Nov. 18 Summit by Dr. Tom Felke who has been working with several hunger relief agencies to map out the issue in Southwest Florida, and find ways to make it easier for those that rely on food pantries to locate them. "The Summit provided an excellent opportunity for attendees to see the value of having a regional Food Policy Council in addressing several social issues, including food insecurity," said Tom Felke.

Dr. Felke's next step will be to conduct a food system assessment that will highlight the gaps and needs of our current food system. The hope is to launch a Food Policy Council in May of 2020 to address any gaps and help strengthen our food system in Southwest Florida now and in the future."

This article was written by Jessica Ayerscrane, Community Policy Specialist, Blue Zones Project - SWFL.

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