Florida Food Policy Council

L E A D I N G  F L O R I D A  F O O D


  • 9 Mar 2020 10:00 AM | Administrator (Administrator)

    An Interview with Andi Emrich

    Andi Emrich is a member of the Florida Food Policy Council and the Coordinator of the Florida Farmers Market Association. Andi graciously sat down with us for an interview to talk about her interest in food policy, current projects, and hopes for the future. 

    Please introduce yourself.

    My name's Andi Emrich. I'm the Coordinator for the Florida Farmers Market Association. It's a new organization under the Florida Organic Growers which has been around for over 30 years working with farmers across the state, advocating for all kinds of different issues that face farmers today. I've worked with agricultural or environmental organizations, non-profits back home in Canada where I'm from. I've worked with the Department of Agriculture back in Canada as well implementing cattle traceability projects and other environmental projects as well.

    I moved to Florida 3 years ago, maybe a little bit more, with my husband who is doing a PhD at the University of Florida in Gainesville and I became part of Florida Organic Growers just about the time we moved here. So I've been working with them for a few years now. And now, like I said, I'm working as the Coordinator for the Florida Farmers Market Association.

    My work right now mostly involves providing educational opportunities for folks that are within the Farmers Market world here in Florida. So vendors, farmers, farmers market managers, folks that are attending and buying from farmers markets as well.

    When did you first become interested in food policy?

    I think I first became interested in food policy when I started college back home in Canada. I was in an interesting program called Renaissance College, which is a super liberal arts college where we had a lot of freedom to explore our interests and pursue basically whatever interests we had.

    One of the outcomes of that program that we have to show growth and competency at the end in effective citizenship, and I think that's probably where I first got my introduction to policy and what we can do within our communities, whatever size community that is, whether it's your local town, your neighborhood, state, province, and I felt that I could really have an impact on the issues that really interest me.

    In what ways does your job intersect with food policy?

    The Florida Farmers Market Association is a new organization that we are starting to get off the ground, but what we're trying to do is create a central organization where vendors, farmers, market managers, can come together and talk about their concerns, talk about their issues, talk about what they need out of farmers markets and hopefully, we can become the advocate for those needs and address those needs at state and local levels. So, where it intersects, is going to be pretty direct. What we'd like to do is hear from those that are directly involved in farmers markets and direct to consumer selling, find out the issues that they need addressed and we can advocate for them at those levels, state and local.

    What are some gaps or challenges that can be addressed by food policies?

    Some of the challenges that we're seeing that need to be addressed through hopefully policy is ensuring that what is available at markets is truly local produce from local farmers. That's not always the case and there aren't always policies in place or regulations in place to ensure that that's what's happening at farmers markets. So we'd like to address that and try and make clear that when you are going to a farmers market, you're getting a consistent sort of experience. You know that you're going to get local produce and you're going to be talking with your local farmer.

    Other challenges is making local healthy food accessible to everyone. So we work closely with Feeding Florida that oversees the Fresh Access Bucks program, trying to get the doubling of EBT or SNAP at farmers markets known to more farmers market managers and getting those programs to continue and grow throughout the state.

    What current projects are you working on?

    Some current projects and initiatives we are working on with the Farmers Market Association are really based in education. We just finished up our third of five symposiums taking place throughout the state, and these symposiums are entitled "Growing a Stronger Economy Through Local Food Entrepreneurship." So we are trying to provide opportunities for those within the farmers market community, those selling direct to consumers, farmers, all those people that we're trying to help with opportunities for learning, sharing skills, gaining skills, that sort of thing in topics like financial planning, financial literacy, food safety issues, community kitchens, just different topics within the farmers market umbrella to broaden people's skills and to provide them with an opportunity really to connect with other folks that are in this community.

    We are also working on webinars that will have some very specific topics that we'll be covering. Those should be rolling out in the next few months. They'll be available on our website and we want to do some live webinars but have them available as well to view in the future that we hope will make it a little bit easier for everyone to take part because we know that travel can be a barrier for folks. We know that people are working on their farms a lot too, so it makes it hard to come out to these events for a whole day. So if we can provide those that would be a great resource for folks to gain skills and knowledge.

    We are rolling out the Florida Farmers Market Toolkit, which will be available this summer 2020. It'll be a resource where you can go anytime to look at topics of food safety, marketing, anything again to do with farmers markets, and selling your goods at direct to consumer at markets. That'll be a great resource, so stay tuned for that. You can always find that on our website.

    We also have a map that we're developing. That is a place where we can promote Florida farmers markets and also direct folks that want access to farmers markets. It's an easy place where they can go to find that closest market in their area. So if anybody's interested in being featured on that map, they can get in touch with us.

    What are your hopes for the future? How can policy get us there?

    Our hopes for the future within the Farmers Market Association are really to connect all these silos that we have throughout the state in terms of farmers markets, farmers market managers, and the vendors that we can connect to those managers and to those markets. We'd really like to create a central location for them to come together and actually communicate with one another. It's so easy to stay within our silos but if there's a problem that you have, likely somebody else in the state has already gone through it and we can share that knowledge and get it moving around more easily hopefully.

    Using policy, we'd like to create safe, accessible, profitable, transparent markets. So that means making more markets, helping people create more markets throughout the state if they are needed, putting them in areas that don't always seem like the easiest choice for putting a farmers market, but somewhere that we can help make healthy local food more accessible to more communities. Again, ensuring that the food that folks are going to the market for, they are actually getting. So local, healthy, and profitable. We really would like to make sure that there are farmers markets available to the vendors, to the farmers, to the folks that can really benefit from direct to consumer marketing, and we think that that will help us create stronger and more healthy communities throughout Florida.


    Florida Farmers Market Association website: www.foginfo.org/ffma

    Florida Farmers Market toolkit (coming soon!): www.farmersmarkettoolkit.org

    Bio: Andi Emrich is the Coordinator for the Florida Farmers Market Association based in Gainesville, Florida.  She is originally from New Brunswick, Canada where she started her career working with farmers to implement on-farm environmental projects.  She has worked on multiple organic farms in Canada, California and Florida, and now spends her spare time digging in her backyard and arranging flowers for friends.

    Disclaimer: The views of the interviewee do not represent the views of the Florida Food Policy Council. We are a forum for the offering and sharing of information and encourage diversity and communication within the food system.

  • 24 Feb 2020 12:03 PM | Administrator (Administrator)

    From left to right: Senator Cory Booker, Rep. Deb Haaland, and Rep. Chellie Pingree.

    The Farmers Bill of Rights resolution, which affirms the rights of family farmers, ranchers, and traditional agricultural communities across the country, was introduced to Congress by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Representatives Deb Haaland (D-NM) and Chellie Pingree (D-ME). Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) is also a cosponsor of the Senate resolution.

    “Corporate consolidation in the agriculture sector is causing serious harm to our rural communities," Senator Booker said in a press release, "We need to level the playing field to ensure that family farmers and ranchers can retain control over their lands, their food security, and their livelihoods. Farmers are on the front lines of our nation’s biggest challenges—from climate change to environmental justice—and it is our responsibility to ensure that they receive our full support.” 

    The resolution outlines ten basic rights that family farmers and ranchers should have access to:

    1.     Right to fair, open markets.
    2.     Right to feed their community.
    3.     Right to fair capital.
    4.     Right to protect natural resources.
    5.     Right to local land control, property rights, and protection of tribal lands and sovereignty.
    6.     Right to food security.
    7.     Right to repair.
    8.     Right to transparent labeling.
    9.     Right to rural opportunity.
    10.  Right to preserve a diverse community of farmers and farming practices.

    The resolution aims to ensure fairness in farm and food markets so rural communities and new generations of farmers can thrive.

    Representative Haaland said, “Small farmers are largely responsible for sustainable practices and uplifting rural communities, but the decks are stacked against them, because large corporate farms are sucking up all the resources and blocking them from prosperity. Our Farmers Bill of Rights is the radical idea that we owe small farmers and ranchers and our traditional communities basic rights. This Farmers Bill of Rights is a commitment to leveling the playing field and giving control of our most precious resources back to the folks who grow our food and keep our families health.”

    Representative Pingree said, “Farmers deserve to know that they are protected from volatility in the markets, in their wages, and in their crucial place in America’s food landscape. The Farmers Bill of Rights will help protect land and markets while giving historically underrepresented farmers a voice in the future of American agriculture. I’m proud to join Rep. Haaland and Senator Booker in introducing this bill that will restore legal protections for farmers across the country.”

    The bill has been endorsed by a number of organizations including: American Grassfed Association, CASA del Llano, INC, Citizens Regeneration Lobby, Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, Dakota Rural Action, Family Farm Action, Farm Aid, Farm to Table - New Mexico, Food and Water Watch Action, Friends of the Earth, Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Indiana Farmers Union, Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, Land Stewardship Project, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Mississippi Sustainable Agriculture Network (MSAN), Missouri Farmers Union, MOSES (Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service), National Family Farm Coalition, New England Farmers Union, New Mexico Food & Agriculture Policy Council, Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, Open Markets Institute and Missouri Rural Crisis Center, Organic Consumer Association Organization for Competitive Markets, Regeneration International, Renewing the Countryside, Slow Food USA, Union of Concerned Scientists, Wisconsin Farmers Union, and Women Food and Agriculture Network.

  • 3 Feb 2020 3:30 PM | Administrator (Administrator)

    Get ready for Guidewell Block by Block 2020 on Monday, February 10th! This event is the kickoff event and continuation of the second phase of programming for the Guidewell Wellbeing Challenge 2019. 

    Who’s invited?

    All of the applicants, judges, speakers, mentors, coaches and partners from the last years challenge are coming. Key stakeholders and leaders in the state including Nikki Fried, Robin Safley, Karen Broussard, and many others.

    Why should you attend?

    Block by Block 2020 is a great way to network with other innovators from all over the state, not just an individual region.

    • Matchmaking Opportunities: Bring your elevator pitch and collateral! Invited innovators will have a unique opportunity to network with potential strategic partners or customer prospects that can help support their innovative work. Innovators will also have the opportunity to collaborate and receive real-world feedback from prominent leaders in the field.
    • Innovation Workshop: Empathic Accuracy for Winning Collaborations: In this active, two-part session (before and after lunch) participants will take a self-assessment on their level of empathic competency when approaching partnerships for the best possible joint outcomes. Tools will be learned to improve the accuracy of understanding partners’ priorities and deepest needs. Knowing these drivers allow participants to position offerings and collaborations in the most appealing and successful way for long-term impact in the community.
    • Funding Resource Panel: Pick the brain of resources and thought leader panel who will discuss funding mechanisms, and sustainability efforts for your business.
    • Grow Your Business: Get a sneak peak into the Regional Workshops and other events we have in store for you in the coming months leading into our Community Health Symposium [May 4th and 5th].


    • 9:30AM - 10:00AM: Registration
    • 10:00AM - 10:15AM: Welcome
    • 10:15AM - 11:00AM: Robin Safley: Executive Director, Feeding Florida
    • - Keynotes: Mikhail Scott, FL Department of Agriculture
    • 11:00AM - 12:00PM: Fervor Works: Empathic Accuracy for Winning Collaborations Workshop
    • 12:00PM - 12:50PM: Lunch/Networking
    • - Chef Rich: Nutrition Cooking Demonstration
    • 1:00PM - 2:30PM: Empathic Accuracy for Winning Collaborations Workshop Continued
    • 2:30PM – 3:30PM: Funding Panel :
    • - Grants
    • - Micro-Financing
    • - Crowdfunding
    • 3:30PM - 3:45PM: Panel Q&A
    • 3:45PM - 4:00PM: Wrap up/ Next Steps
    • 4:00PM- 5:00PM: Reception/Open Networking

    Guidewell is asking for registration no later than February 3rd. 

    Feel additional questions, reach out to  Ricardo.Garrcia@guidewellinnovation.com or Erin.Munchick@guidewellinnovation.com.

  • 17 Jan 2020 8:00 AM | Administrator (Administrator)

    FLFPC member James Jiler is currently writing a book called "Food In Security." 

    The book aims to address issues and solutions to food insecurity as told by people actively working in this field—from planners, to urban and rural small farmers, to market professionals and grass roots educators.
    Increasingly, urban residents are relying on local food production to meet dietary needs and avoid a diet of factory farmed and processed calories.

    James feels that people on the front line in 2020 are a vanguard and have much to offer policy planners, community activists, concerned residents and educators around the country. 

    By learning about the work being carried out to address food security, James hopes to use the book as a platform everyone can learn from. 

    If you are engaged in food security issues or would like to recommend a person or program that is, please contact James at jamesjiler3@gmail.com 

  • 1 Jan 2020 9:00 AM | Administrator (Administrator)

    With the beginning of a new year, and a new decade, the Florida Food Policy Council is looking forward to the future. It was only three years prior, in 2017, that a group of hopeful individuals came together with the idea of working towards creating a fair and healthy food system for all Floridians.

    Once a dream, the FLFPC has become an active organization that works with partners across the state and nation to address gaps and educate citizens. Going into 2020, we are excited for what’s to come.

    In 2019, we began hosting the Florida Food Forum, an online public forum that gives guest presenters a platform to introduce important issues and facilitate dialogue. The forum brought out a wealth of information on: Models for Food Products, Food Sovereignty, Nutrition and Policy, Food Processing for Small Producers, Cottage Industry, Animal Welfare, Farm to School, Food Waste and Food Banks, and Food Policy for Wellness. Past forums are accessible online here.

    In 2020, we are happy to announce the continuation of the forum on a monthly basis, featuring new topics to allow further conversation and educational opportunities. 

    Throughout 2019, we also had the opportunity to travel around the state participating in symposiums and workshops, collaborating on how to make a greater impact in communities around Florida. As we met with leaders around the state, we learned about various innovative approaches being used to improve the food system.

    In particular, much of our efforts this year focused around food insecurity and food sovereignty. For the first time we began a policy scan project with Feeding Florida that allowed us to gain awareness of policies that affect access to food. We also participated in the GuideWell Block by Block Insecurity Challenge and Tampa Bay Urban Food Sovereignty Summit. 

    Into the new year, we are excited to continue our work targeting public and institutional policies that affect the food system while working with partners around the state on new and impactful projects.

    It is with the support and encouragement of our members and community that we have been able to grow. We want to thank you for joining us on our journey so far and look forward to making a larger impact in 2020!

  • 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.

  • 29 Nov 2019 12:00 PM | Administrator (Administrator)

    Tom is a connector, innovator and self-proclaimed meat mercenary. He has a background in consumer products and foodservice marketing with large food processors. Tom earned a BS in Animal Science from UF in 1996 and an MBA from Thunderbird in Arizona in 2001. Tom spent about 12 years working for large food companies (Tyson Foods, Nestle Purina and Schreiber Foods) with roles in (operations, sales and marketing).  Tom returned to Florida in 2009 to represent small, authentic food brands into mainstream channels. In 2010, Tom co-founded a Florida grass-fed beef producer and a few years later, co-owned a very small USDA inspected processor in NW Florida. This led Tom into the small farm, local foods movement that is alive and underway here in Florida. Tom joined the Florida Food Policy Council to help promote and develop local food systems into the mainstream.  

    Tom has been an outstanding member of the FLFPC for some time! He led the Florida Food Forum on "Food Processing for Small Producers" in June, 2019. The full talk can be watched here. Tom also made time to sit down for an interview. Watch the interview here.

  • 8 Nov 2019 1:42 PM | Administrator (Administrator)

    Chris is a native Floridian, born and raised in Hastings, Florida. The son of a 4th generation farmer, Chris was raised helping his family on their commercial farm. After receiving his bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida, he returned to his family’s farm to help manage production of their potato crop. After returning to the farm, he participated in the Florida Natural Resources Leadership Institute, where he graduated a fellow of Class IX. Through his experience on his family’s farm, Chris gained an appreciation for the complex relationship between modern commercial agricultural production and the natural resources upon which agriculture depends. He saw first-hand how disconnects that often exist between the agriculture industry and environmentalists or others concerned about the health of the environment and the sustainability of our food production often fosters misunderstanding that inhibits trust and cooperation that can prevent meaningful improvement in our food systems. As a result, Chris decided to pursue a law degree and focus on environmental law.  

    Chris was accepted and attended the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where, in 2015, he earned his J.D. with a certificate in environmental and land-use law. While in law school, Chris interned at Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic where he was introduced to the broader complexities of modern food systems and developed an interest in food law and policy. During his time working at the Clinic, Chris had the opportunity to work on developing policies aimed at reducing food waste by clarifying food labeling, nationally. He also worked with a non-profit based in La Paz, Bolivia to help develop and recommend food polices aimed at increasing access to nutritious food within La Paz. 

    Today, Chris lives in West Palm Beach and works for the law firm, Lewis, Longman & Walker, as an environmental attorney. He represents a spectrum of clients from local governments, to Indian tribes, to private landowners, including agricultural producers, on complex issues involving environmental permitting and natural resource protection and development. He remains interested in food policy and using his skills, experience, and insights to foster meaningful improvements to food systems throughout Florida.  

  • 3 Nov 2019 5:50 PM | Administrator (Administrator)

    October was a whirlwind for the Florida Food Policy Council. We visited cities all over the state to connect with our members and become familiar with new leaders working in various sectors related to food.

    On October 17th, FLFPC Chair Rachel Shapiro represented us as a judge at the GuideWell Block by Block Insecurity Challenge in Orlando. There she met with leaders around the state who are working tirelessly to develop innovative approaches to solving food security. Some of the greatest benefits that came out of the event were the conversations, collaborations, and the realization that working together as a group would enable organizations to make a greater impact in communities by multiplying what they were already doing individually.

    The Tampa Bay Urban Food Sovereignty Summit at the University of South Florida was our next stop on October 22nd.  FLFPC Policy Committee Chair and USF Department of Religious Studies Associate Chair Dell deChant hosted the event. His enthusiasm captured the interest and attention of over 150 attendees. Also speaking at the event was FLFPC Development Committee Chair and Urban and Regional Planning specialist Anthony Olivieri, who presented on “Food Sovereignty via Land Use Policy Activation.” His inspiring speech brought a new perspective on the issue of food sovereignty through the lens of policy for many of the attendees. FLFPC Administrative Assistant Kyndra Love was also in attendance, sharing information and connecting with food advocates at the FLFPC table. Overall, the event was a huge success in providing awareness of food issues and bringing together community members to further the conversation on this important topic.

    In Miami, on October 23rd, the FLFPC attended the Sustainability and Digitalization Leaders Conference. This event brought together innovators and leaders from around the world working with technology to improve the food system. Attending the event, Chair Rachel Shapiro and South Florida Regional Liaison Tom Pellizzetti learned about new ways technology can be used to reshape the food system and discussed how related policies and legislation can better support access to a sustainable, equitable future.

    Over three days, from October 24 to 26th, we moved to North Florida for our Regional Gatherings. Held in three cities: Panama Beach City, Tallahassee, and Saint Augustine, Chair Rachel Shapiro and Board Member Christopher Johns led the gatherings which included discussions on understanding, researching, evaluating, and advocating for public food policy. The events enabled us to better understand the issues and concerns of our members, and inspired us to create new goals in educating and informing Floridians going forward.  

    As we met with the many passionate people involved in improving the food system around the state, we were left with a stronger sense of purpose. As we move into the new year, we are excited to continue connecting stakeholders and facilitating dialog, and especially educating Floridians on how to become food citizens.

  • 29 Oct 2019 12:05 PM | Administrator (Administrator)

    "Planting trees helps us create a cooler and greener future for the City Beautiful. Trees planted in the right place can also help maximize shade and increase your energy savings." - City of Orlando

    Under the One Tree, One Person program, the City of Orlando has partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation, Orlando Utilities Commission and the Florida Forest Service, to increase Orlando’s urban tree canopy to 40 percent by providing city residents with free trees for their private yards. 

    "If every resident planted a tree in the City of Orlando, our tree canopy would increase from 25 percent to 40 percent? That’s like taking nearly 40,000 cars off the road."

    This program is available to residents who live within the city limits of Orlando. You can check your eligibility here: Orlando Information Locator

    Currently, four species of canopy and understory trees are being offered: Persimmon, Tea Olive, Chinese Pistache and Dahoon Holly. 

    You can get your free tree here and find the best place to plant it in your yard.

    Check out the City of Orlando's website to learn more about planting, care and maintenance of trees in Orlando. 

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