Florida Food Policy Council

L E A D I N G  F L O R I D A  F O O D


  • 16 Aug 2019 12:00 PM | Administrator (Administrator)

    “Energy touches every one of us every single day – from the food we eat, to how we move from one place to another, to the air we breathe,” Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said in a statement.

    On August 15th, Fried announced the full agenda for the 2019 Florida Energy and Climate Summit in a press release.

    Scheduled for September 4-6 in Tampa, Florida, the event is the first state-level conference to address climate change since 2008.

    Contrary to the previous commissioner, Adam Putnam, addressing environmental issues including climate change has been a major part of Fried’s platform.

    The multi-day conference will center around the theme of “Powering Change” by examining the interconnectedness of energy with sectors such as agriculture, transportation and the environment.

    The summit will feature a number of panel discussions focused on energy.

    According to the release, the summit “will provide opportunities to share ideas on diversifying Florida's energy sources; promoting energy efficiency, renewable energy and alternative vehicle technology; spurring economic growth; and tackling climate change. It will bring together leaders in energy efficiency and development, sustainability, climate change, agriculture production, government, academic research, technology and finance from across the state and around the nation.”

    For more information and to register to attend the 2019 Florida Energy and Climate Summit, visit FloridaEnergySummit.com

  • 9 Aug 2019 8:32 AM | Administrator (Administrator)

    Food for Thought - An Interview with Tom Pellizzetti 

    Tom Pellizzetti is an outstanding member of the Florida Food Policy Council! He is a food broker who works independently to develop lines of beef and provides management services. He has done work in developing grass-fed lines of beef and was the previous co-founder and owner of the small grass-fed beef company, Arrowhead Beef. 

    Graciously, Tom made time for a short interview to talk about challenges and gaps currently seen in the meat industry, as well as his current projects and hopes for the future.  

    Tom was also the guest presenter for the June Policy Committee meeting where he discussed “Food Processing for Small Producers.” If you missed his presentation, you can watch the call and get more information about his presentation here.  

    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 became an independent sales agent in 2009 and co-founded a small grass-fed beef producer called Arrowhead Beef in 2010. Tom and his business partner bought a very small USDA-inspected harvest facility in NW Florida in 2013. Tom sold his interests in those operations by 2017 and now provides brokerage and management services to natural food companies selling into retail and foodservice channels. Local When We Can! 

  • 24 Jul 2019 1:02 PM | Administrator (Administrator)


    Mark Your Calendars for the  Urban Food Sovereignty            
     Mini-Summit: North Suncoast - Monday, Sept. 23

    On Mon., Sept. 23, 2019 an Urban Food Sovereignty Mini-Summit:(North Suncoast) will be held at the New Port Richey Public Library (5939 Main St., 34652) from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
    Urban food sovereignty: the right and opportunity of persons in urban ecosystems to define their own food and agriculture policies and practices, and to produce healthy and culturally appropriate food through their own means using ecologically sound and sustainable methods, independent of industrial food systems.
    The mini-summit will feature an address by Professor Will Schanbacher of the department of Religious Studies at USF - one of the world's leading scholars of food sovereignty. Dr. Schanbacher will share insights from his just-published book, Food as a Human Right: Combating Global Hunger and Forging a Path to Food Sovereignty.

    Joining Professor Schanbacher will be other USF faculty members, and local leaders engaged in food-sovereignty projects.  
    Also included at the summit will be poster presentations from individuals and organizations engaged in food sovereignty and food justice projects.  
    The finale of the mini-summit will be a focused deliberation by all participants on the state of food sovereignty in their community and identification of specific actions that can advance this goal.
    The purpose of the event is to expand awareness of food sovereignty, to engage individuals and communities in the North Suncoast in a vibrant discussion of food sovereignty, offer opportunity to meet and network with others interested in the topic, and relate local food-sovereignty projects to the work of the USF Urban Food Sovereignty Group.
    Organizers welcome proposals for poster presentations from local individuals, organizations, and communities. Contact Dell deChant at dechant@usf.edu or call at (727) 849-1626 for further details for submitting a proposal for a poster presentation. There will be space for up to ten posters.
    This event is hosted by the New Port Richey Public Library and sponsored by New Port Richey FarmNet in cooperation with the University of South Florida's Urban Food Sovereignty Group.

  • 22 Jul 2019 8:10 AM | Administrator (Administrator)

    New Grant Funding to Help Farmers Markets Accept Snap Benefits

    On Monday, July 15th, $4 million in funding for a Farmers Market SNAP Support Grant became available through the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). The program aims to increase the participation of farmers markets in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and access to farmers markets by SNAP recipients.

    According to Farmers Market Coalition, “SNAP provides over 45 million low-income Americans with monthly benefits that can be used to purchase most foods and beverages. Each year program participants spend roughly $70 billion in SNAP benefits, including more than $22.4 million at farmers markets in 2017. While SNAP helps low-income Americans purchase food, the program also supports farmers and farmers markets in all 50 states.

    In Florida, incentive programs funded by the USDA like Fresh Access Bucks(FAB), an initiative of Feeding Florida, encourage SNAP recipients to redeem their benefits at farmers markets, produce stands, CSAs and mobile markets to purchase healthy produce directly from Florida farmers. FAB matches or discounts up to $40 of what a SNAP cardholder spends with Fresh Access Bucks that can be used to purchase fruits & vegetables.

    Expanding the abilities of SNAP recipients to access the healthy foods farmer’s markets requires more innovation, making this grant a great opportunity to create change.

    For full grant information click here.

    Key Dates: 

    —> July 15, 2019 — Application opening date. 

    > September 13, 2019  — Application closing date. Full applications --must be submitted via grants.gov.

    Estimated Total Program Funding: 


    Number of Awards: 


    Eligible Grant Applicants: 

    Applicant must be a nonprofit with a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education.

    Grant Officer Contact Information:

    Trinity Richardson, Grant Officer
    U.S. Department of Agriculture, FNS
    E-mail: trinity.richardson@usda.gov
    Phone: 703-305-2184

  • 15 Jul 2019 8:00 AM | Administrator (Administrator)

    Fifth Annual Okra Occasion
    New Port Richey

    Monday, August 12
    Less than a festival but more than an ordinary day!

    NEW PORT RICHEY (July 13, 2019) - All are welcome to join the City of New Port Richey’s Environmental Committee and New Port Richey FarmNet for the fifth annual "Okra Occasion...Less than a festival but more than an ordinary day!” to be held at the New Port Richey Public Library (5939 Main Street) in downtown New Port Richey on Monday, August 12 beginning at 6 p.m.

    Friendship Farms & Fare, FarmNet, and the gardeners from the Grand Gardens are joining other growers and citizens to share the magic of okra – one of Florida's forgotten vegetable treasures. There will be samples of okra dishes; two short films on urban farming;  an okra recipe mini-booklet; and some fresh okra for sale by local growers.  A brief presentation on New Port Richey' FarmNet will be included on the program.
    This year will again feature prizes for the best okra dishes.  Everyone is invited to bring a dish for folks to sample and evaluate. There will be three prizes (1st, 2nd, and 3rd) awarded on the basis of evaluation of the dishes by those in attendance. Awards will be $50 for first prize, $30 for second, and $20 for third. If you desire to have a dish included in the tasting and judging, you must contact the organizers for instructions, bring the dish and 50 copies of the recipe. Deadline for the entering contest is August 9.  Up to ten entrees will be accepted - first come first serve.

    Fresh, locally-grown okra will be available for donations.  We have commitment from Friendship Farms & Fare, Grand Gardens, East Madison Gardens, Habitat for Humanity Gardens, and other farms and gardens in the city.  Growers are welcome to bring fresh okra to the event to share with attendees. If you desire to have your fresh locally-grown okra available for donations, you must contact the organizers for instructions, bring your okra to the event and 50 business cards or flyers for your farm or garden.

    Assisting at the fifth annual okra occasion are members of the City’s Environmental Committee.  It has been through the efforts of this committee that New Port Richey has a progressive agricultural program allowing for residential farms and gardens and micro-urban farms such as those in the East Madison Neighborhood and the city's Agricultural District in the Western portion of Virginia Avenue. The Environmental committee has discovered many residents in the city would like to grow their own organic vegetables.

    For more information about this upcoming special “occasion” on August 12, feel free to call Dell deChant at (727) 849-1626, or contact New Port Richey FarmNet through their Facebook page.

    The Okra Occasion in one of the four major seasonal agrarian celebrations in New Port Richey.  The others are: The Sweet Potato Round-Up (September 28, 2019), The Collards Festival & Winter Greens Expo (January 25, 2019), and The Florida Loquat Festival (March 21, 2020) - the only Loquat Festival in America.

    Mission: The mission of New Port Richey FarmNet is to quickening the rise of a resilient and sustainable community in the City of New Port Richey and surrounding areas on the basis of agrarian principles and practices, and a commitment to food sovereignty.

  • 14 Jul 2019 5:00 PM | Administrator (Administrator)

    Improving Food Management in Hotels

    Tuesday, August 13 
    8:30am - 4:30pm
    Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, North Miami Beach


    Join chefs, hotel administrators, and food and beverage executives to learn how to fight food waste in the South Florida hospitality sector.

    World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Florida International University (FIU), supported by the American Hotel & Lodging Education Foundation (AHLEF), are coordinating this workshop to provide hotel staff an opportunity to develop a property level strategy map for tackling their food waste challenge, as well as a forum to connect with key technical assistance providers locally who can help put their strategy into practice.

    This event is brought to you with generous support from the American Hotel and Lodging Education Foundation. With this support, we are able to offered a subsidized registration fee of $25.

    This workshop will meet the following objectives:

    • Raise awareness of the social, environmental, and economic impacts of food waste.

    • Create a strategy document for how to integrate food waste prevention into business processes.

    • Schedule food waste audits and develop a process for measurement and tracking of food waste to understand reduction in food waste over time.

    • Set meetings with a donation or composting partner and outline steps for establishing a property program.

    Register for the full day if you are seeking additional training on the Hotel Kitchen resources or the demonstration project engagement model.

    Hotel, food service, and tourism participants should register for the half-day session. Our afternoon session will run from 12:15pm to 4:30pm. For all attendees who hold the Certified Hotel Administrator (CHA), Certified Food & Beverage Executive (CFBE) designations, or ACF-Certification this industry seminar will qualify for 3 maintenance points/continuing education credits.

    Scholarships are available for participants in need.

    Contact foodwaste@wwfus.org with any questions.

    Register and learn more here.

  • 8 Jul 2019 12:30 PM | Administrator (Administrator)

    We sat down for interviews with our New York and Washington D.C. Correspondents and asked them to speak about their work, food policy and the future.   

    Rachel Ram, New York Correspondent 

    Watch Rachel’s Interview Here 

    Rachel Ram is a health educator, policy advocate, adventurer, and overall foodie. Rachel earned her Bachelor of Science in Health Education, Community Health and Preventive Medicine from the University of Florida in 2017. A lifetime resident of south Florida, she now resides in Brooklyn NY working for the American Lung Association. She began her work with the Florida Food Policy Council in 2016 and continues to raise awareness on food policy issues. Besides engaging in food policy, Rachel enjoys traveling, hiking, yoga, cooking and reading.  

    Candace Spencer, Washington D.C. Correspondent 

    Watch Candace's Interview Here

    Candace Spencer is a Double Gator and earned both her B.A. in Environmental Science and J.D. from the University of Florida, as well as a Certificate in Environmental and Land Use Law. She previously worked at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where she developed a new program area in the Conservation Clinic focused on environmental justice and community economic development and engaged in local urban agricultural policy. Candace is passionate about equitable food systems and land ownership, particularly Black owned agricultural land and addressing food apartheid. She currently works as a Policy Specialist with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition in Washington, D.C. 

  • 6 Jul 2019 10:29 AM | Administrator (Administrator)

    When people think about bees, they often think of honey. But for Florida’s commercial beekeepers, having pollinators to sustain the $4 billion blueberry, cantaloupe, cucumber, honeydew, raspberry and watermelon crops is sweeter than honey. However, with the drastic decrease in honeybee colonies, beekeepers and other stakeholders are concerned. 

    According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “pollinators contribute more than $24 billion to the American economy, $15 billion from honey bees alone…Yet the number of managed honey bee colonies in the United States has declined steadily over the past 60 years, from 6 million colonies (beehives) in 1947 to 4 million in 1970, 3 million in 1990, and just 2.5 million today.” With such a heavy dependence on commercial pollination, domestic agriculture is facing a real threat. 

    In 2018, the Tampa Bay Times reported the drastic effect Hurricane Irma had on Florida’s ongoing problem of honeybee colony loss. According to Florida Department of Agriculture’s chief apiary inspector David Westervelt, “At least 75,000 of Florida’s 600,000 honeybee colonies were affected by the storm: Bees drowned, were blown off course, or died of starvation due to destruction of the nectar- and pollen-rich vegetation on which they forage.”  

    In order to compensate for these losses, the 2014 farm bill earmarked $20 million for the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP). In April of 2018, that number was increased to $34 million. 

    Tracking honeybee loss became a priority in 2015 when the US Department of Agriculture conducted the Colony Loss Survey for the first time. The reliable, up-to-date statistics serve as a way to help track honey bee mortality.  

    However, with the 2019 budget cuts, data collection for the survey has been halted. According to a notice posted by the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Survey, “The decision to suspend data collection was not made lightly, but was necessary given available fiscal and program resources."  

    Although the suspension is temporary, it is unknown when or if it will be resumed.  

    According to Dennis vanEngelsdorp, an entomologist who studies bee health at the University of Maryland, this kind of research is important to better understand bee health and the role they play in agriculture. "The value of all these surveys is its continuous use over time so you can compare trend lines," he said. 

    Researchers at the USDA's Economic Research Service also described the dataset as “valuable and important for beekeepers and other stakeholders like the honey industry and farmers whose crops rely on honeybees to pollinate them.   

    With the major role bees play in pollinating the crops we eat, finding ways to sustain diminishing colonies is a major concern. Additionally, creating funding for research and implementing policies that assist in the protection bees is an issue we all need to be buzzing about. 

  • 27 Jun 2019 3:30 PM | Administrator (Administrator)

    Imitation meat and plant-based meat products have become more and more visible on store shelves. However recently, large companies like Tyson Foods, Inc. and Perdue have decided to join a new market which blends meat and plant products.  

    According to Katherine Walla’s article, “Meat in the Middle: Blended Options Join Eaters in Sustainability,” alternative protein options like plant-based nuggets, sausages, meatballs and blended burgers that include vegetables in the patties, will soon be more readily available.

    The market for alternative meat products seems to be growing and consumers want to buy healthier products. According to Melanie Bartelme, a global food analyst with the consulting firm Mintel who published a 2018 report on Plant-Based Proteins in the U.S.,  88 percent of U.S. consumers identify plant-based proteins as healthy options.

    A nutritious diet is one reason people might choose to purchase blended-meat products, but for others it may be the environmental benefits.

    In the article Walla reports, “Partially replacing meat with plant-based ingredients can help consumers limit their contributions to diet-related greenhouse gases by up to 15 percent. According to the World Resources Institute (WRI), replacing every burger Americans eat with burgers that are 30 percent plant-based may conserve 83 billion gallons of water per year, equivalent to 2.6 million American’s yearly household water use, and reduce agricultural land demand by 14,000 square miles,  an area larger than the state of Maryland.”

    Special impact programs like the Blended Burger Project led by the James Beard Foundation is helping to create conversations around health and sustainability in the food system. In 2019, they are once again challenging restaurants to create flavorful burgers that consist of at least 25 percent mushrooms. With a cash prizes up to $5,000, this kind of contest brings in all kinds of participation. Justin Robinson, a participating chef in St. Petersburg, FL said, “The blend allowed us to offer our clients a burger that is healthier, more sustainable, and delicious to boot. It also didn’t hurt that it was outselling our regular menu burger nearly two to one.”

    Continue the conversation

    On Friday June 28th, from 12-1pm, Tom Pellizzetti will present observations and shared learnings about "Food Processing for Small Producers: Local and Regional Niche Meat Systems, Selling Channels, and Consumer Trends Driving Transformation."

    Join the webinar to learn more about companies, organizations and people leading change in local/regional meats.

    Keep the conversation going by visiting our website forum here.

  • 14 Jun 2019 5:00 PM | Administrator (Administrator)

     Sustainability in Business - An Interview with Kathy Sue McGuire

    In 1989 Kathy Sue McGuire returned home to Florida after living in England for 3 years. It was then that she realized the amount of waste produced in her beloved state, compared to England. Deciding something needed to be done, in 1991, she asked her boss at BellSouth Telecommunications, now AT&T, if she could start a recycling program. It was the first corporate recycling program in the state of Florida. For this program she was recognized with the “Count on Me Award of Excellence.”

    In 2006, Kathy took on a new role at PGA National Resort and Spa, where she again began a revolutionary change in her industry by implementing sustainable policies. With the integration of the APEX/ASTM Environmentally Sustainable Meetings and Events international standard, the resort received certification in the Venue and Accommodations category. Over 10 years she helped save the resort over $1.4 million dollars. Kathy then decided to begin helping other businesses with sustainability, predominantly focusing on the hospitality industry and the events sector.

    Kathy describes herself similar to a teacher, who helps show businesses how they can be profitable, and environmentally and socially responsible at the same time. By working with Kathy, businesses have an opportunity to incorporate environmental and social programs into their business models, which she says benefits businesses in a myriad of ways, like the ability to market themselves as being green or sustainable. 

    “Sustainability is nothing more than being efficient—with your money, your resources, your purchasing, and your waste. It’s no longer okay for business to be wasteful, because it affects everyone in the community.”

    When it comes to food policy, Kathy lamented the amount of food insecurity and food waste she sees in her community and around the world. She pointed to a 2016 French law which requires surplus food in stores and restaurants to be donated rather than thrown away, “We grow enough food around the planet to feed 18 billion people, yet one third of the 7 billion people are starving. Food waste is a major problem, and when you know people are food insecure, or actually starving in many countries, it’s just unconscionable.”

    Although the U.S. does have federal laws, like the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Act, that protect those that donate food from civil and criminal liability, many aren’t aware of these laws, or are still afraid of possible legal retribution.

    When asked specifically about Florida food policy, she felt that implementing similar laws requiring businesses such as supermarkets, restaurants, or hotels to donate food could be one solution to the food waste issue. However, she felt that these kinds of policies would be difficult to see put into law given the anti-regulation climate. Therefore, leaving industry and consumer demand to lead the change.

    For businesses that want to become more sustainable, Kathy recommends, “Look at what you are spending your money on. You should look at what kinds of products you are purchasing and the waste you are generating. If businesses want to differentiate themselves from their competition, going green is a great way to do that.”

    Going green is not without its challenges. In 2013 Kathy began working with a hotel, but it took nearly 6 years to get all the data necessary to assess their situation. What she found was that by simply reducing their use of disposable items by 30%, they would save over $50,000 dollars a year. Do the math and that’s $300,000 that could have been saved. Time, interest and effective communication are just a few of the obstacles she has confronted.

    When asked about the future, Kathy believes that if just one prominent, influential person in a local community got involved, they could inspire other businesses to do better. She is currently looking for someone in the Palm Beach county area who would provide the leadership for sustainable business.

    If you are interested in seeing how sustainable your business is, check out Kathy’s website https://www.3pillarsolutions.com/ where you can take a Hotel Sustainability Assessment.

    If you have questions or comments for Kathy, you can contact her at kathy@3pillarsolutions.com.  

    Kathy is an award-winning Sustainable Development Professional (ISSP-SA), and Climate Reality Leader with 15 years of progressive experience and a proven track record of implementing sustainability projects to reduce energy, water and waste, in all its forms, engage stakeholders, and increase brand awareness. Recognized as an industry leader in meeting the highest standards and being among the first in the nation to achieve sustainable business certifications for her clients, she is a trusted source of knowledge on established practices and cutting-edge trends that benefit organizations and the community.

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