Florida Food Policy Council

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Florida Food Forum

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  • 26 Nov 2021 11:03 AM | Administrator (Administrator)


    Follow Up: November Florida Food Forum 

    Building Resilient Communities Through Cooperatives

    If you were unable to attend the meeting, watch the full presentation online here

    To keep the conversation going, please add your thoughts and comments to our forum page here 

    On November 19th, the Florida Food Forum on "Building Resilient Communities Through Cooperatives" featured guest speakers Erica Hardison, Board President of One Community Co-Op, and Lou Murray, Co-chair of the Manasota Food Action Council for both Sarasota and Manatee Counties. The speakers discussed a number of topics including: the structure and benefits of cooperatives, the importance of farmers' markets, the Electronic Benefit System (EBT) and Fresh Access Bucks (FAB), and how organizations can work collectively to create stronger local food systems, especially in underserved communities.

    Erica Hall, Chair of the FLFPC Board of Directors, opened up the forum with a warm welcome and indigenous land acknowledgement, then turned over the floor to the panelists for presentations, which were followed by a lively discussion. Below is a shortened summary of what was covered during the forum.

    The first speaker, Erica Hardison, began by explaining what a cooperative is.

    According to the International Co-Operative Alliance, a cooperative, or co-op, is defined as “an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically controlled enterprise.

    ”In other words, cooperatives are created by people who have a specific need and who are willing to work together to cooperate and organize a company that will meet that need,” Erica added.

    She emphasized that cooperatives are a business with policies, and business policies can enable cooperatives to run more effectively in certain spaces.

    Types of Cooperatives 

    There are many different types of cooperative businesses but are most often seen in areas such as: agriculture, insurance, financial services, grocery, education, healthcare, housing and utilities. Furthermore, co-ops can take on many forms including worker co-ops, consumer co-ops, purchasing co-ops, and even hybrid co-ops.

    Erica explained that there are seven main principles that cooperatives run on:

    1.   Open and voluntary membership

    2.   Democratic member control

    3.   Cooperation among cooperatives

    4.   Autonomy and independence

    5.   Member economic participation

    6.   Concern and community

    7.   Education, training and information

    Why do we want to be part of a co-op?

    “It’s really because we want to be part of something bigger; something sustainable; something that is a solution. So, when we talk about why you would want to be part of a co-op, there are several reasons. A lot of times, it’s the purpose. Co-ops they help us to realize what we can do economically together versus individually. They help us to really solidify and sustain our cultural values,” Erica noted. “There are co-ops that serve a particular purpose in maintaining for instance, a culture cooking style, a cultural way of doing work. And they also help meet social needs. So, when you think about why, you have to think about the social needs of the organization and the surrounding community.”

    When it comes to food security, Erica gave the example of how co-ops can assist food insecure areas when grocery stores don’t want to take on the risk. “As a co-op and as a community, we can absorb that risk, own it together, and benefit the community.”

    Other benefits that co-ops provide are: giving access to benefits that communities may not receive, they help businesses become sustainable and build resilience. Since co-ops have a commit to the community. The democratic governance can empower people to engage in other ways and become leaders in their communities. They help to provide equality, equity and inclusion in areas where people are not given a chance.

    At the end of her presentation Erica took time to answer questions about laws regarding cooperatives, how cooperatives empower and educate about cooking and growing, online platforms that support cooperatives, as well as how to join One Community Grocery Co-op and where it operates.


    The second speaker, Lou Murray, continued the forum with a story about the changes he has seen in the food system and his work while serving on the Federal Reserve Advisory Board.

    “We weren’t always underserved communities,” Lou said. “We were self-contained minority communities. Especially Black communities were self-contained communities. We had our own grocery stores, we had what we called the fruit man who would come down and set up a fruit stand and even bring fruit to your house…The point is, we were not always underserved communities. We became underserved when integration came, and it was good on one hand but it was bad on the other. And after that, 90% of what the money that we created in our community started going out. And any community that has 90% of the money that it produces going out will become a ghetto or a blighted area.”

    Lou saw this first-hand, especially when he was working in Detroit. As many of the major grocery stores left over the years, it was devastating to the city and still is today. In fact, at one time Lou noted that over $1 billion a year was leaving the local economy in grocery sales.  

    Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) System

    For three years, Lou served on the Federal Reserve Advisory Board under the Clinton administration. One of the last assignments he received at the time involved the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) system. He was asked to give a report and advice on improving the new system.

    He explained that it was set up with three objectives: to help farms, to bring nutritious foods into underserved communities, and most notably—that it was supposed to create community-based enterprises in underserved communities.

    Although the EBT system provides an important service, Lou said that of the $9 billion federal food dollars that comes into Florida every year, 80% of that goes directly to the national grocery stores.

    “Right now, 80% of the money that goes through the EBT system goes into national supermarkets and corporate farms. The 20% is still going into the community, but mainly in terms of liquor stores and gas stations. This is a problem because those stores very little fruit or healthy foods can be purchased in those locations.”

    He went on to explain that the reason these stores often don’t have fruits and vegetables is because the shelf-life is too short to make money, prompting the sale of products such as tobacco, liquor and snacks.

    Another notable issue Lou highlighted was the reliance on emergency food systems. “These emergency food systems have inundated and taken over the food system in underserved communities,” he said. “This has been devastating in terms of us creating community enterprises like food co-ops and EBT farmers markets.”

    Sarasota’s Newtown Farmers Market

    Lou continued his presentation by explaining how the Newtown Farmers Market in Sarasota was created. A community health initiative taskforce was formed and identified the area as a food desert. One solution was to set up a farmers’ market, which led to the creation of the advocacy group The Newtown Nation, which was tasked with setting up the market.

    They were able to obtain a grant from the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service and build relationships with the community, University of Florida Extension, who helped bring the EBT system into the market, and with the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), who provided funds and space to set up the market.

    Why are EBT farmers’ markets important to underserved communities?

    “Because it’s easy to start. You don’t have to a whole lot of capital, you don’t have to have brick and mortar, you don’t have to have federal risk and laws. It’s easy to start up,” Lou said.

    He noted that the farmers’ market is a community gathering place where community leaders gather to talk about the business of the day and how we move forward on other projects. It also provides a place for minority farmers to sell their products since it is often difficult to get into grocery stores. This is a mutually beneficial relationship as farmers’ markets need farmers to sell as well.

    Lou also highlighted the fact that farmers’ markets are an innovative space that also provide services. Currently he is working with the Health and Human Services Department to develop a new program that would allow seniors to get health screenings at farmers’ markets then obtain a produce prescription for healthy and nutritious produce. This food could be picked up at the market or delivered directly to their homes.

    If 1/3 of the population participated in this program, Lou said that the federal government could save $100 billion dollars a year

    Lou ended his presentation with these wise words, “Whoever feeds you, controls you. So, you need to take control of the food that goes into your body, and also the food that come into your community, and create the system that you would like to see.”

    After the presentations, the speakers took questions from the audience on topics ranging from how to get EBT into an existing market, how community members can start their own market, the difference between EBT and the Florida Fresh Access Bucks (FAB) Program, how can organizations in these areas get more funding, and more.

    Watch the full recording on our YouTube channel here


    Resources

    Learn more about One Community Co-op on Facebook

    Learn more about Newtown Farmers Market on their website


    Guest Speaker Bios:





    Thank you to our sponsors for making this forum possible: 

    One Community Grocery Co-Op’s vision is to build a self-determined community-owned cooperative grocery store that provides fresh, healthy, and nutritionally dense food, and supports the physical, mental, and economic health of our community. 

    Contact: Erica Hardison, Board President

    Facebook: www.facebook.com/OneCommunityGroceryCoop


    Tangelo is a Food Benefit Platform where organizations, agencies and institutions can utilize local farms and producers efficiently.

    Contact: Chris Woodschris.woods@jointangelo.com

    Website: www.jointangelo.com


    FHEED provides food systems planning, GIS analysis, advocacy, and education about food systems and healthy communities.

    Contact: Anthony OlivieriFounder, FHEED LLC

    Website: www.FHEED.com


    J Haskins Law, located in Tampa, empowers communities with the legal and risk management tools they need to exercise food sovereignty. The contact for J Haskins Law is Jesse Haskins.

    Contact: Jesse Haskins, Founder, J Haskins Law

    Website: www.jhaskinslaw.com


    The Florida Food Forum is a free event. To support our work, please consider becoming a member or making a donationFor questions or more information, contact us at: info@flfpc.org

     

    Disclaimer: The views of the presenters 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.

  • 27 Oct 2021 4:58 PM | Administrator (Administrator)

    Follow Up: October Florida Food Forum 

    Strengthening Southeast Florida's Food System Action: Emerging Community Practices

    If you were unable to attend the meeting, watch the full presentation online here

    To keep the conversation going, please add your thoughts and comments to our forum page here 

    On October 22nd the Florida Food Forum on "Strengthening Southeast Florida's Food System Action: Emerging Community Practices" featured food systems experts from around Southeast Florida for a panel to highlight action-oriented collaborations in the region that focus on community-based engagement, action, multi-sector collaboration and advocacy through individual and collective leadership and activities.

    Arely B. Lozano Cantu, Director of Health Access and Livability at Urban Health Partnerships was the panel moderator. Panelists included: Joanna Peluso from Healthier Jupiter, Amy Krigsman from Urban Health Partnerships, Jaime Castoro from Dania Beach PATCH, Nattaliah Earle from Sustainable Urban Resources Group (SURG) Consulting, Regina Silas from The JBS Foundation INC, Justin Dunlap from United Farmers Alliance, Xavier Deroos from Renuable, Sam Hopwood from Florida Impact to End Hunger and other members from the South Florida Hunger Coalition and South Broward Community Health Hub.

    Erica Hall, Chair of the FLFPC Board of Directors, opened up the forum with a warm welcome. Arely then began the dialogue by asking panelists to introduce themselves and their organizations, and then proceeded to ask guided, discussion questions. Below is a shortened summary of some of the guest panelists' answers.


    Arely: I wanted to ask some of the panelists if they could round us on what a food system is to get us started, and then just really thinking about how we need better coordination and strengthening to bring those parts of the food system together in a much better way.

    Jaime: In my work with the Dania Beach Patch, we learned that the food system has basic parts that go across everything. It’s production, processing, distribution, consumer, and food waste. It’s more complex than that simple wheel; we have policymakers, government agencies, technical service producers, educators, and funders.

    Nattaliah: Because of partnerships, like us coming together with UHP and forming and working with the groups that are involved like Renuable with the Community Health Hub, we are able to win grants that individually would never have been able to get. We are also able to, I use the term “buy in bulk” in this case as it refers to economies of scale, but really what it is that we’re able to reach more people and to make a success of that outreach because a lot of us are involved to make sure that low-access and low-income communities get access to healthy food.


    Arely: Can Joanna and Amy give us a little bit more on how community-based engagement and assessment is important to the food system efforts and coordination that we’re doing and how it really helps us with the impact of the individual and community health and well-being.

    Joanna: One thing that we are trying to do in the Jupiter community, since we are a place-based initiative, we get to elevate the voices of our communities for our unique solutions. With that, we are looking to bring as many voices as possible.

    Amy: We as organizational leaders only know so much from our place on high, and unless we engage with people on the ground in the trenches that are living this experience every day, we can only really grasp what we imagine they go through and what might possibly alleviate those struggles. So, community engagement and thoughtful assessment are the only ways to get their picture of the situation and having the community lead and us acting as facilitators to co-design solutions that the community will really buy into and sustain in the long-run.


    Arely: I just wanted to ask any other panelists if you had any other examples of how you all carry out how community-based engagement and assessment so that community members and perspectives and experiences are really the true leaders of our work?

    Xavier: Us having a foot in the food waste department makes us a little bit more unique but getting the community involvement in their buy-in when it comes to what’s been working and what hasn’t been working in terms of recycling and composting programs. It gives us a better perspective on how to go forward and make collaborations that are long standing, rather than start with a spark and then it kind of fizzling out.


    Arely: Are there any insights that you might have right now to share with everybody about inclusivity about BIPOC youth, and how their leadership and their efforts can influence the work that we’re doing?

    Xavier: We believe that it is particularly important to focus on youth involvement in the local food system because there’s been this increasing gap in the transfer of information intergenerationally, that includes information about traditional agriculture, local food identification, and preparation of that food.

    So, we also want to take into account and actively promote people of color, Black and Indigenous youth being heavily involved in the food system, not just making sure that they are present but that they’re heavily involved. They have historically lived in areas that have been disproportionately affected by inequalities both in availability and the options of nutritious food but as well as their local food systems resilience. 

    Nattaliah: It was almost miraculous to watch as some of these kids go from not knowing where their food came from to understanding the cycle of plant and then understanding how recycling works and why it’s important, but also to watch as a few of them would tell us that they are teaching their grandparents. Their grandparents who have been separated from the land for so long within an urban community, where nothing really grows, to being able to start gardens themselves in their own homes and teaching their grandparents how to grow food.


    Arely: I know that Regina and Justin both work in more technology-oriented efforts around the food system. So how are you, Justin and Regina, bringing those things together, technology, the youth, and economic development for the youth and the communities you all serve?

    Justin: Some of the stuff that United Farmers Alliance focuses on is economic development along with the development of agriculture in underserved communities. We used to have a lot more farms in these high density, underserved communities, but since development has happened, it’s pushed a lot of those agricultural farms and entities out. So, we are really trying to utilize what space is left by doing aquaponics and hydroponics and developing this high-volume production where the food’s needed most, and then creating enough equity where residents can also sell those products.

    Regina: I am on the development component, but my main goal and objective is to teach our youth entrepreneurship to the food ecosystem, as well as gentrification. I want community and economic development, not just to build up the buildings, but to build up the people that are already existing in the community.


    Arely: Can you share a little bit more about how improving our communications and work around policy systems and environmental change advocacy can really help us sustain some of the work that we are talking about today?

    Sam: Communication and advocacy go hand-in-hand, both pieces are critical in preserving existing programs within the food system and being able to expand, enhance, or build new parts to that system. These aspects, communication and advocacy, where we must strongly leverage all of the pieces that we’ve already talked about today: community engagement, collective impact, coordination, collaboration, technology and everything else. Working together through these pieces allows us to communicate more effectively from our local grassroots up in Tallahassee and even beyond that.

    To wrap up the discussion, Arely asked panelists for their final thoughts on how collaboration efforts have supported their work and what are their visions for the upcoming year in their respective organizations.

    At the conclusion of the panel, the forum opened up for an informative Q&A session.

     

    Watch the full recording on our YouTube channel here


    Learn more about the panelists’ organizations on their websites:

    Urban Health Partnerships

    Healthier Jupiter

    Dania Beach PATCH

    The JBS Foundation

    United Farmers Alliance

    Renuable

    Florida Impact to End Hunger


    Guest Speaker Bios:

     



      

    Thank you to our sponsor for making this forum possible: 

     

    Visit Urban Health Partnerships Website for more information about our sponsors.


    The Florida Food Forum is a free event. To support our work, please consider becoming a member or making a donation. For questions or more information, contact us at: info@flfpc.org

     

    Disclaimer: The views of the presenters 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.

  • 31 Aug 2021 12:18 PM | Administrator (Administrator)

    Follow Up: August Florida Food Forum 

    Strengthening Southeast Florida's Food System: Partnerships and Policies

     

    If you were unable to attend the meeting, watch the full presentation online here

    To keep the conversation going, please add your thoughts and comments to our forum page here 

    On Friday, August 27th, The Florida Food Forum on “Strengthening Southeast Florida’s Food System: Partnerships and Policies” featured Arely B. Lozano Cantu, Senior Program Manager in Health and Community Development at Urban Health Partnerships, Commissioner Sabrina Javellana from the City of Hallandale Beach and Commissioner Sandra Welch from the City of Coconut Creek.

    Arely B. Lozano Cantu opened up the forum by introducing the sponsors for the forum: Urban Health Partnerships (UHP) and Food For All (FFA) Broward.

    She began by noting that the UHP’s leading mission is to invest in local communities by “creating sustainable change and promoting equity and well-being across the lifespan.” She also explained the Food for All approach, which seeks to “improve food access for all and strengthen local food systems” across Broward County, while also laying out the goals, strategies, and framework of Food For All Broward.

    Arely delved further into the Policy, Systems, and Environmental Change (PSEs) on the Collective Power approach. This approach is rooted in community-led organized action, which then informs and creates local, state, and municipal policies.

    She said that to have long-term, sustainable PSE changes, the following must be included:

    1. Community- Based Leadership & the Community Liaison Framework
    2. Collective Impact & Policy, Systems and Environmental Change Approaches
    3. Technical Assistance and Support towards Community Action Planning
    4.Policy Scan and Place-Based Assessment
    5. Action & Advocacy


    Exploring Policy: Food Policy Champions  

    The second speaker, Commissioner Sandra Welch from the City of Coconut Creek, gave an overview of the vision and mission of their Green Team. She explained what is in the Vision 2030 document—a community-based document that encompasses the current missions and visions of the City of Coconut Creek.

    Vision 2030 is “an innovative, inclusive, and progressive community with a small-town personal touch,” noted Commissioner Welch. The mission is “to provide exceptional responsive and sustainable services for the Coconut Creek community.”

    Commissioner Welch also spoke about the city’s Green Plan, which was established in 2009, as a way to promote sustainable practices and environmental preservation, while addressing issues brought forth by climate change.

    Next to speak was Commissioner Sabrina Javellana from the City of Hallandale, who gave background information on how Hallandale Beach promotes sustainability. 

    Commissioner Javellana emphasized that in order to have a thriving city, elected officials must be willing to listen to, uplift, and learn from the experiences of community members, as well as make budget and informed policy decisions. The City of Hallandale promotes this by hosting community forums and in-person and virtual town halls, in order to make these conversations and spaces accessible to everyone.

    “We’ve known this from the start that all of this is interconnected,” Commissioner Javellana said, “our food, our health, our economy, our equity, our environment, our future, our children and our senior community’s wellbeing.”

    She also noted that the City of Hallandale signed a pledge that holds the city accountable to increase awareness about the benefits of food access and sustainability practices in Broward County. “This commitment,” she said, “also means showing up for and amplifying resources to underprivileged communities.”

    Commissioner Javellana then explained the role of Food For All Broward and Urban Health Partnerships in helping them review their book of codes in order to update and expanding current legislation around food security, urban agriculture, and sustainability initiatives. The city’s legislative goals include: creating an ordinance that will make it easier for residents to grow and sell their own food, expanding gardens, and updating legislation around fruit trees, in order to create more access for community members.

    She emphasized how although COVID-19 has shown the barriers presented by our current food system, it has served as an opportunity to not only identify areas of improvement and demonstrated the need for collective care in our communities.

    Arely emphasized that the Commissioners are food champions. “They help improve access to healthy and nutritious food in their communities…but most importantly they help connect the food systems to a lot of other efforts that are intended to increase economic opportunities, improve health outcomes, build a more sustainable future, and share responsible and equitable infrastructure development.”

    To conclude the presentation, Arely shared more about the growing Southeast Florida Food System Action Coalition (FSAC), and what partner organizations are on the ground doing the work to reimagine and better our food system.

    At the conclusion of the presentations, the forum opened up for a lively Q&A.

    Watch the full recording on our YouTube channel here

     

    Resources:

    Learn more about Urban Health Partnerships on their website

    Learn more about the City of Coconut Creek on their website

    Learn more about the City of Hallandale Beach on their website 


    Guest Speakers:

    Arely B. Lozano Cantu is the Senior Program Manager in Health and Community Development at UHP. She possesses over 9 years of experience in community organizing, grass-roots and community-based approaches in education and research, management and development, community health, and in programming support and solutions. Having gained her skills through grassroots organizing, youth and justice advocacy, and professional community and public health work, she holds a strong passion for amplifying people’s voices and building, developing, and supporting strategic and impactful action towards improving health-empowerment and all opportunities in underserved communities. Arely leads UHP' Food Access, Security and Justice work and manages the Food for All Broward initiative, the South Broward Community Health Hub Collaboration, and the Go for Healthy Growth Campaign projects; she also guides and supports the implementation of the Community Liaison Framework for the organization. Arely is fluently bilingual and holds a B.A. in Psychology and a M.A. in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies with a focus on the intersections of food, health, race, class, immigration, and gender.

    Broward County Food Access Champions: 

    Commissioner Sabrina Javellana and the City of Hallandale Beach Team

    Sabrina Javellana, working with the City Mayor, Joy Cooper, the City Manager’s office, and the Public Works Department/Green Initiatives staff have been leading important policy changes in support of increased food access for their residents, more specifically, by connecting food security and access with development and built environment improvements. Working with Food for All Broward, Commissioner Javellana and the City's team identified important code updates that will allow for expanded urban agriculture in the municipality and will be introducing a resolution and an ordinance which further expands residents’ ability to grow, get, and sell healthy foods right in their community. City staff also proposed regulations about the tree canopy to include fruit trees in their landscape policy. The City developed and implemented a zero food waste policy under the Community Redevelopment Agency and they encourage community gardens in multi-unit residences by incentivizing developers through their green building code.

    Commissioner Javellana, recognizes the connection between food access and equitable development, serving on the Broward Solid Waste and Recycling Working Group, establishing and supporting food distributions during COVID-19, and taking the time to learn more about equitable development noting in a Facebook post that “I’m going to continue doing my part to make sure we are most successful in seeing through affordable housing and infrastructure improvements for families and seniors, public art, food accessibility, and local job generation (reference).” Commissioner Javellana and other Hallandale Beach leadership understand that we cannot separate food from the built environment, and they have taken steps to ensure development planning incorporates aspects of the food systems to best serve their community in an equitable and just way.


    Commissioner Sandra Welch and the City of Coconut Creek Green Team

    Under the leadership of previous Mayor and Commissioner Sandra Welch, the City of Coconut Creek Manager’s office and staff from the Department of Sustainable Development have helped improve food access for their residents by more effectively connecting food security and access goals to their green plan and other sustainability focused efforts. In 2019 the city passed a resolution expressing their commitment to establishing policy to promote a healthy environment with food access, food security, and cleaner air for all. As part of that they committed to: considering food system efforts as part of the planning process, updating municipal plans or codes as needed; recommending green policies for increasing government procurement/processing of locally produced foods and access to healthy foods within government buildings and public institutions; and to help improve soil and air quality through green development, composting, increasing local access to healthy foods, and by promoting alternative transit opportunities. All to help prevent hunger and other environmental- and nutrition-related issues.

    Working with Food for All and with Commissioner Welch's leadership, the City has led important changes including making fruit trees the trees that are provided to community members for planting during the City's annual tree giveaway, updating the Audubon International recommendations and implementing some of these sustainable food system elements and changes into their Green Plan. In addition, they have made a commitment to composting education to help reduce food waste and to support and expand their farmer’s market thus addressing several different aspects of the food system through policy, systems, and environmental changes. Commissioner Welch also serves on the county Climate Change Task Force, and as a Food Access Champion consistently brings to the Task Force's attention that climate and food are interconnected and that there are effective, evidence-based food and climate access solutions available. This and the other changes the City of Coconut Creek has supported are helping break down the silos that separately address inadequate food systems and environmental challenges and this has allowed food access to become a more central focus for their community and the entire county.

    Forum Host:

    Erica Hall has an extensive background as a community organizer, advocate, trainer, Board member, and Senior Legal Professional who has worked in urban agriculture, food policy, community engagement, neighborhood revitalization, historic preservation and community economic development. She is the Chair of the Board of Directors at the Florida Food Policy Council.

     


    Thank you to our sponsor for making this forum possible:


    Visit the Food for All Broward Website 

    Visit the Urban Health Partnerships Website


    The Florida Food Forum is a free event. To support our work, please consider becoming a member or making a donation. For questions or more information, contact us at: info@flfpc.org

     

    Disclaimer: The views of the presenters 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.

  • 5 Aug 2021 8:50 AM | Administrator (Administrator)


    Follow Up: July Florida Food Forum 

    Urban Agriculture Policies Programs

     

    If you were unable to attend the meeting, watch the full presentation online here

    To keep the conversation going, please add your thoughts and comments to our forum page here 

    On Friday, July 30th, The Florida Food Forum on “Urban Agriculture Policy and Programs” featured Brandi Gabbard, St. Petersburg City Council District 2 City Council Member, Michael Dema, City of St. Petersburg Managing Assistant City Attorney, Elizabeth Abernethy, City of St. Petersburg Director of Planning and Development Services, Mary Helen Duke, Pasco County Planning and Development Department Principal Planner – Resiliency, Frank Starkey, Founder of People Places, LLC.

    The first group of guest speakers, Brandi Gabbard, Michael Dema, and Elizabeth Abernethy, spoke about Urban Agriculture in St. Petersburg in “The St. Pete Way.”

    Brandi Gabbard began by introducing the leading mission of St. Petersburg to “access to healthy, affordable food is vital for a sustainable community.” She highlighted that this is done through a number of different ways, but “urban agriculture has become one of the biggest cornerstones to this work.”

    Growing up in a small town in rural Indiana, Brandi recounts her experience with food insecurity and how her experience has informed the work that she is doing with urban agriculture in St. Pete. It was after moving to St. Pete that she realized the legislative barriers that would prevent local communities from growing and selling their own produce, and that there was a lot of work to be done.

    Exploring Past Policy

    The second speaker, Michael Dema, gave background on some of the current legislation in place in St. Petersburg, including Ordinance 933-G (2009) and Ordinance 1029-G (2011), to address the growing interest in urban agriculture and to reflect on the shortcomings of state and local governments regarding urban agriculture policies.

    Michael identified two legislative challenges to advancing local urban agriculture policies in the City of St. Pete, which were the Florida Right-to-Farm Act and countywide rules.

    “What we’re trying to do here is to create an ordinance that bumps up against the maximum of what we can do under the [Florida Right-to-Farm] Act, but we also created an exemption that was passed by the state legislature this year, The Florida Urban Agriculture Act (SB 628),” he said.

    “What we’re also trying to do is create a lot more opportunities for our local gardeners to sell their products at their homes, and not just have to find a farmer’s market or not limiting things to the industrial zone for our larger agricultural operations. I think we’re trying to really push this into the next tier.”

    Exploring Current Policy

    Elizabeth Abernethy continued the presentation by giving an overview of a package of amendments that was adopted under SB 628 in February of 2021. “Really, we are trying to take the next deep dive into our code to see if there are ways to expand production and produce in our city,” she explained.

    Some of the amendments adopted under SB 628 did the following:

    1. Eliminating the not-for-profit requirement, extending the date of initial permit expiration, and lowering fees for Community Gardens
    2. Allowing as permitted use in Industrial Traditional and Industrial Suburban zoning districts, eliminating public hearings, creating Use-Specific standards to address concerns for Commercial Gardens and Greenhouses
    3. Allowing on-site sale of produce on residential properties
    4. Expanding allowances to design and setback standards to include gardening structures
    5. Expanding options for selling produce from vehicles and vacant properties and lowering fees

    “This really encompasses the changes we made. We really try to provide this information to our community through handouts and guides,” said Elizabeth.

    What’s next?

    “While the efforts that culminated in the passage of our ordinance this year, we still want to do more, we think this is an opening salvo in terms of broadening up opportunities for Urban Ag in the city of St. Pete,” noted Michael. 

    He explained that in the future, he wants to see special exemptions for dense urban land areas from the Florida Right-to-Farm Act, in which “local governments have the power to regulate this use within their boundaries.” The benefits that come from this include economic development opportunities, an opportunity to add value to land in vacant areas, and to address food deserts.

    “This will only be applicable in cities greater than 250,000 people,” he added. “Fortunately, St. Petersburg is one of those cities, along with Miami, Jacksonville, Tampa, and Orlando.”

    “The work is far from done, it’s going to take a large collaboration of ideas,” remarked Brandi. She delves into the importance of projects like Commercial Community Food Forest, which is about building community, beautifying neighborhoods, and conservation. “We want to be a resource and a tool, and a way to help expand these efforts throughout the state,” she said.

    The next speaker, Frank Starkey, who is a resident of New Port Richey, delved into the topic of New Urbanism.

    “The reason I’m here is because I’m a New Urbanist by commitment,” he said. In his work as a New Urbanist, one of the fundamental proposals of New Urbanism is that zoning separates and undermines the cohesiveness of communities.

    “What’s interesting to me about urban agriculture is that agriculture, at the same time, has become industrialized as a pursuit generally,” he added. “Now, ironically, growing food has become viewed as an industrial activity that needs to be isolated from residential uses in every way possible.” He indicated that to permit growing and selling produce, we have to go back and amend zoning ordinances and land development codes.

    “What I’m engaged with currently is the City of New Port Richey has contacted me to help advise on rewriting their entire Land Development Code.” He delved into the challenges and contradictions that are embedded in Land Development Codes.

    “To the proposal of New Urbanism, which is to keep development compact in order to protect rural agricultural lands, there is also a component of food production within neighborhoods that is also important and using this green space that is a part of all urban landscapes in the United States. Whether it’s window boxes or in most cases, especially here in Florida, yards, there is an immense amount of acreage of land available for food production in urban areas.”

    The last speaker, Mary Helen Duke, provided a short presentation summarized by host Dell deChant, which gave an overview of the Urban Agriculture Ordinance passed in Pasco County.

    “This is the organization within Pasco County that actually developed the Urban Agriculture Ordinances for the county in cooperation with Mary Helen Duke in the Planning Department,” said Dell.

    Unlike the St. Petersburg model, Pasco County created a Food Policy Advisory Council (FPAC) in which the ordinances came after the development of the council.

    “One thing that was very important early on in the work of the Food Policy Advisory Council (FPAC) in Pasco County was getting an idea of what the distribution system was for the locally grown material,” explained Dell. This is what led the FPAC to spearhead their initiative on surveying sample questions for their local Farmer’s Market.

    Mary Helen Duke’s presentation outlined the focuses and current initiatives of the Food Policy Advisory Council, the legislation happening in Pasco County, and the processes that were followed to move forward with the Urban Agriculture Ordinance.

    At the conclusion of the presentations, the forum opened up for a lively Q&A.

    Watch the full recording on our YouTube channel here


    Resources:

    Learn more about the City of St. Petersburg on their website

    Learn more about the City of New Port Richey on their website

    Learn more about Pasco County and the Food Action Policy Council on their website

    Access the City of Petersburg's full guide explaining the amendments to their Urban Agriculture Ordinance here

    Access Mary Helen Duke's full presentation on Pasco County here.


    Guest Speaker Information: 






    Forum Host: Dell deChant is the Associate Chair of the Religious Studies Department at the University of South Florida and a member of the Board of Directors at the Florida Food Policy Council.


    Thank you to our sponsors for making this forum possible:

    FHEED provides food systems planning, GIS analysis, advocacy, and education about food systems and healthy communities.

    Contact: Anthony OlivieriFounder, FHEED LLC

    Website: www.FHEED.com


    J Haskins Law, located in Tampa, empowers communities with the legal and risk management tools they need to exercise food sovereignty. The contact for J Haskins Law is Jesse Haskins.

    Contact: Jesse Haskins, Founder, J Haskins Law

    Website: www.jhaskinslaw.com


    The Florida Food Forum is a free event. To support our work, please consider becoming a member or making a donation. For questions or more information, contact us at: info@flfpc.org


    Disclaimer: The views of the presenters 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.


  • 28 Jun 2021 12:48 PM | Administrator (Administrator)


    Follow Up: June Florida Food Forum 

    Seed Saving Programs and Practices


    If you were unable to attend the meeting, watch the full presentation online here

    To keep the conversation going, please add your thoughts and comments to our forum page here


    On Friday, June 25th, the Florida Food Forum on “Seed Saving Programs and Practices” featured Melissa A. Desa, Cofounder of Working Food in Gainesville, FL, Andrea Figart, Director of the New Port Richey Public Library, Stephanie Jones, New Port Richey Public Library Systems and Services Librarian, and Joey Stabenow, Education and Engagement Intern at Seed Savers Exchange.  

    “Seed saving and the way in which this often overlooked and often simply ignored practice can play a vital role in our food system,” remarked host Dell deChant at the opening of the forum. 

    “Although most of those who are engaged in the food production process acquire seeds from corporate entities, there is a growing interest in learning how to save seeds and utilize this resource in an ongoing, sustainable manner. Seed saving literally is as old as agriculture itself. In fact, it’s the very basis not just of agriculture but of what we call civilization, dating back to 10,000 years to the beginning of the domestication of plants.”

     

    The first speaker, Melissa A. Desa, delved into the important work that is being done at Working Food, while exploring local and national policies and regulations that affect seed savers on a global level. 

    “Working Food is a nonprofit that does a lot of really cool things in the Gainesville area – celebrating, advocating for, and doing local food,” introduced Melissa A. Desa. 

    “Why would we save seeds and do the extra work when it’s so easy to buy them? When we start saving our own seeds and teach our friends and colleagues and other farmers and gardeners how to save a seed, what we start creating is a local and reproducible seed supply that’s close to home,” explained Melissa. 

    Melissa indicated that having our own local and reproducible seed supply would allow us to decentralize the seed network. 

    She stressed the importance of having lots of seeds in the hands of a lot of people, rather than having a handful of people controlling most of our seed supply. “This allows us to start regionally adapting our crops,” she noted. 

    “And you know we’re humans, we’re storytellers, part of the fascination of saving seeds is of course telling the stories of where these seeds came from, who they came from, and of course there’s often a lot of really painful history in learning about our food history and food culture. And how some of these seeds and varieties of cultures have been erased, but we can tell those stories and bring them to life again.” 

    Melissa gives examples of stories that are being told across generations through the preservation of seeds. She tells us about Feaster Family Mustard, Motherland Okra, Grandma Ernestine’s Butterbean, and Seminole Pumpkin.

    Melissa explained how food sovereignty is the basis for an empowering and inclusive food system. 

    Through projects such as The Heirloom Collard Project and through their Tomato Tasting event, Working Food is making sure that their communities get to choose which varieties they want to see in their local gardens and are working towards having their local communities actively involved in their seed saving initiatives. 

    “One of the most special things to me is that it is very inclusive of all different races, genders, and abilities, we make it a lot of fun, and it’s slow seeds,” mentioned Melissa. 

    Working Food partners with Grow Hub and is involved with the Farm To School Program, both of which cultivate an empowering, sustainable, and learning space for adults and kids with disabilities who take interest in seed saving. 

    Exploring policies

    “By in large, I’m pretty happy with Florida’s seed state laws. They have not been overly restrictive on anything that we have had to do. As far as free community seed sharing, organizations and libraries like Seed Swap, there are no restrictions,” indicated Melissa. 

    However, she shares her worry about a policy on the national level – the Intellectual Property Rights and Patents that have been put on seeds. Melissa described that these patent laws ultimately restrict future seed saving, they restrict future plant breeding that helps in adapting to climate change, and they aid in the decrease of plant diversity.

     

    The next speaker, Andrea Figart, guided us through what the seed lending program in the New Port Richey Public Library looks like, what resources are available to the community, and how community involvement is pivotal to ensure the survival of seeds. 

    Andrea reflected on the policies that were passed to make this seed lending program at the New Port Richey Public Library possible. 

    “The city of New Port Richey passed an ordinance allowing for nonprofit community gardens in 2013. In 2016, the city council passed an urban gardening ordinance, which allows residents to grow gardens instead of grass,” recounted Andrea. 

    “To support this initiative in building community interest in a way that was truly meaningful, the library set about creating a seed library to offer central resources that could really and truly help people change their lives." 

    Andrea then described the process of becoming a part of their seed library community and showed an informational video which featured Richey Public Library Systems and Services Librarian Stephanie Jones.

    First, community members must obtain a library card to have access to the resources (which includes books, films, classes, participating in committees, and having access to various databases) provided by the New Port Richey Public Library to learn about seed saving and growing crops. Then, library members can start harvesting what they have grown. 

    “After feeding their families with food that they have grown themselves after checking out seeds at the seed library, our urban farmers can sell their extra produce at the weekly Tasty Tuesday Farmers Market held in the library’s courtyard. By doing that, they can add additional financial support for their own families while making fresher, locally grown, non-GMO food available to others.” 

    Andrea explained that the library’s participation with Feeding Florida’s Fresh Access Bucks Program only magnifies the effect that this has on local communities, namely on local growers and farmers. This program, explains Andrea, allows farmers to accept SNAP and EBT benefits, while also doubling the buying power of locally grown produce. 

     

    The final speaker, Joey Stabenow, gave an overview of the work that is being done at Seed Savers Exchange. 

    “Our mission,” noted Joey Stabenow, "is to promote America’s culturally diverse, but yet endangered food crop heritage for future generations by collecting and growing and sharing heirloom seeds and plants, as well as the stories that are connected to them.”

    Seed Savers Exchange, one of the major sources of heirloom seeds in the world, has “over 20,000 heirlooms, historic varieties, and open pollinated varieties” in their seed bank, noted Joey. 

    Joey gave us a handful of resources, community science programs, and projects that are being offered by Seed Savers Exchange and their partner organizations. 

    One great resource offered by Joey is their partner organization’s website, the Community Seed Network. This platform includes resources, networking opportunities, maps that are designed to make it easy to find community seed initiatives in your area, as well as state policies and regulations on seed saving and selling.

    Joey briefly talked about two community science programs that are being hosted by Seed Savers Exchange. 

    Seed Savers Exchange’s first community science program is their ADAPT program. Their second community science program is their RENEW program for more “experienced seed savers” stated Joey. Through these programs, participants will help preserve and strengthen the Seed Savers Exchange collection and catalog, while also engaging in meaningful work that would benefit their local communities. 

    Joey also briefly talked about two projects that are being done with partner organizations. 

    The first is Seed Rematriation Project, which is being done in collaboration with the Indigenous Seed Keepers Network (ISKN) and other Indigenous farmers and growers to restore heirloom seeds to their respective Indigenous communities. 

    The second is The Heirloom Collard Project, which is being done in collaboration with Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Working Food, Culinary Breeding Network, and The Utopian Seed Project, and “aims to build a coalition of seed stewards, gardeners, farmers, chefs, and seed companies working to preserve the heirloom collard variety and their culinary heritage,” explains Joey. 

    “We can do that through those community science programs that I mentioned before, by trialing some of those varieties, and by creating and supporting local seed swaps, and featuring those heirloom collard varieties on the Seed Savers Exchange catalog.” 

    After the conclusion of the presentations, the speakers continued a discussion potential policies they would want to see on a local level that would aid in seed saving initiatives during the Q&A session.

     

    Resources

    Learn more about Working Food

    Learn more about New Port Richey Public Library

    Learn more about Seed Savers Exchange


    Guest Presenter Information:


    Melissa A. Desa is co-founder of Working Food, a non-profit organization based in Gainesville, Florida. Her background in wildlife and ecosystems has brought depth of knowledge and understanding to her current non-profit work tackling food systems — specifically with a focus on seed stewardship and outreach. She has 10 years of experience in non-profit start up and management, community organizing, food systems, seed stewardship, gardening, farming, education, outreach, and youth programming.

    Her primary focus and love is for stewarding seeds important to the Southeastern climate, and building community through seeds in a way that is accessible and collaborative. Ten years ago it started from a small seed library, and grew to a thriving community program providing classes, workshops, training, regional seed varieties, and collaborative work on seed system projects with regional and national partners. Working Food’s seed collection has grown to over 700 accessions, representing a cornucopia of rare, heritage and regionally adapted varieties. Her place-based seed work functions synergistically with a partner non-profit - Grow Hub, that provides meaningful opportunities for adults with disabilities through agricultural and horticultural work.



    Andrea "Andi" Figart was appointed New Port Richey Public Library Director in June 2017. A resident of FL since 2006, she began her library career in 2000 as a Children’s Librarian in Dayton, OH, close to the family farm where she grew up. Andi is committed to helping the New Port Richey Public Library anticipate and respond to the changing needs of the community by providing resources and spaces that help advance opportunity and develop a vibrant, engaged community. Andi serves on the boards of the Morton Plant North Bay Hospital Community Advisory Board and the Pasco County Food Policy Board. She is a member of the Florida Library Association (FLA) and American Library Association (ALA).



    Stephanie Jones is the New Port Richey Public Library Systems and Services Librarian. Stephanie provides technical expertise, day-to-day administration and broad support for library hardware and software solutions; manages electronic resources; updates and develops adult collections in all formats; and serves as the volunteer coordinator. Stephanie enjoys developing, planning, and implementing new projects and initiatives that support the library’s services, and after recently growing five of the most delicious cherry tomatoes she has ever eaten, she says she now has dreams of being an expert gardener. Stephanie is a member of Pasco Enterprise Network (PEN), Florida Library Association (FLA), and the American Library Association (ALA).



    Joey Stabenow is the new Education and Engagement Intern at Seed Savers Exchange. Prior to joining the team, Joey was a FoodCorps service member serving Iowa schools by connecting students to healthy school meals through their garden program. She is eager to help others learn about gardening and preserving heirloom seeds through seed saving.




    *Special Thanks to Jeff McGill for assistance with video preparation for the Seed Program at New Port Richey Public Library.

    Jeff McGill provides frontline support to library members and supervision to the Member Support team. He answers references and research questions, provides assistance with computers/mobile devices and library resources, and addresses member account and access issues. He is the library’s “go to” videographer and photographer. Although he doesn’t yet have a star in the Hollywood walk of fame, we feel it’s just a matter of time.


    Forum Host: Dell deChant is the Associate Chair of the Religious Studies Department at the University of South Florida and a member of the Board of Directors at the Florida Food Policy Council.

     

    Thank you to our sponsors for making this forum possible:

    FHEED provides food systems planning, GIS analysis, advocacy, and education about food systems and healthy communities.

    Contact: Anthony OlivieriFounder, FHEED LLC

    Website: www.FHEED.com


    J Haskins Law, located in Tampa, empowers communities with the legal and risk management tools they need to exercise food sovereignty. The contact for J Haskins Law is Jesse Haskins.

    Contact: Jesse Haskins, Founder, J Haskins Law

    Website: www.jhaskinslaw.com


    The Florida Food Forum is a free event. To support our work, please consider becoming a member or making a donation. For questions or more information, contact us at: info@flfpc.org


    Disclaimer: The views of the presenters 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.


  • 1 Jun 2021 9:49 AM | Administrator (Administrator)


    Follow Up: May Florida Food Forum 

    Sacred Nutrition: Religion and Food Justice

     

    If you were unable to attend the meeting, the full presentation is available to watch online here.  

    To keep the conversation going, please visit our forum on Youth in the Food System here to add your thoughts and comments. 

     

    On Friday, May 28th, the Florida Food Forum on "Sacred Nutrition: Religion and Food Justice" featured The Reverend Gabriel Morgan, Pastor of St Paul Lutheran Church and Faith Lutheran Church in Tampa, and The Reverend Andy Oliver, Pastor of Allendale United Methodist in St. Petersburg.  

    “The relevance of our topic to food policy is centered on the cultural nexus, created by the collapse of sustainable local food systems and concurrently, the colonization of our entire culture by the industrial food system,” said host Dell deChant at the opening of the forum.  

    “While this is happening everywhere, the most destructive and tragic consequences are occurring in those communities that have already been harmed due to political, economic, educational, and creative marginalization. Food policy can make a real difference in these communities and it can make a difference right now…What better way to do so than to consider what is being done in those great centers of cultural inspiration as well as cultural critique—namely religious centers.”

    The first to present on this important topic was Reverend Gabriel Morgan, who gave an introduction to the GIFT Center Garden and Faith Lutheran Church in Tampa, and spoke on policies of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on the use of property for food production, public policies favoring agrarian projects and strategies for evolving food support into food production in religious communities.

    The GIFT Center Garden (Gardening in Faith Together), now known as the Seeds of Peace GIFT Center, is the community garden at Faith Lutheran Church. The currently garden has 20 beds with micro irrigation and the church has even implemented its own composting system.Produce grown in the garden is placed on the tables of the Kinship Free Markets, a grocery pantry designed around the concept of solidarity, and the remaining unused produce is composted for new gardening. 

    The garden has a number of community partners including First United Church of Tampa and USF Urban Food Sovereignty Group. Reverend Morgan explains that Food Sovereignty is one of the key concepts the garden is evolving into, by focusing production on the foods neighbors prefer to eat.

    Reverend Morgan pointed to The FaithLands Movementa burgeoning movement that many churches are following, as one reason for an increase in projects similar to the Seeds of Peace GIFT Center  At the heart of the movement is the idea that religious communities have something to contribute to the larger movement around food justice and food production.

    “The FaithLands Movement is really a movement across the country that sort of captures what we have gone through here in our context too,” notes Reverend Morgan.

    Started by the Agrarian Trust, the FaithLands Movement is defined as “a growing national movement to connect and inspire faith communities to use their land in new ways that promote ecological and human health, support local food and farming, enact reparative justice, and strengthen communities.”

    Some churches have joined this movement by starting gardens, leasing land to local farmers, or in some cases by donating property to agrarian trusts to protect it from development.

    Reverend Morgan says that church gardens are becoming more common, but are still not the predominant paradigm for land use across the denomination. There is, however, a major program led by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America known as ELCA World Hunger. This program makes connections between the climate crisis, food production and social justice.

    One of the featured programs of the ELCA World Hunger program is the Global Farm Challenge whose goal is to “raise $500,000 to equip communities around the world and in the U.S. with livestock, seeds, tools, training and other agriculture-related activities to turn a hungry season into a hopeful season.”

    Exploring Policies

    One of the noteworthy programs Reverend Morgan noted was the Good Food Purchasing Program. It is part of the DART (Direct Action and Research Training) network, which is a national network with partners across several states that strives to “increase movement coordination with metric-driven standards, enhance capacity of local coalitions, activate policy, empower governments by sharing tools and possible targets, and leveraging buying power via increased supply chain knowledge.”

    He also pointed to the Food Forward New York City plan as it is an example of how a city can sketch out a “Right to Food.” This food system plan has 5 overarching goals: “food access for all New Yorkers, worker protection, good jobs and economic opportunities; modern, efficient infrastructure and supply chains; sustainability from production to disposal; and education, communication and administrative support to implement the plan.”

    For those who want to learn more or for religious leaders who want to continue this conversation with their congregation, Reverend Morgan suggested two resources: A Rocha’s guide to starting church gardens and FaithLand’s toolkit for starting church gardens.

    The next speaker, Reverend Andy Oliver, began his presentation with a story about Allendale United Methodist and how it has changed over the past few years.

    “I arrived at Allendale five and a half years ago to a church that was slotted to close,” said Reverend Oliver. “We had dwindled down from the height of 1968 to 700 people in church to having 40 in church. And it was becoming increasingly impossible to sustain the ministry here. And so we didn’t have any time to lose and we went for it.”

    It was decided that the church would become “one that would be radically inclusive, one that would be centered in justice, one that would center the voices of the marginalized.” Which he notes was an important part to their work in food justice.

    The church also opened up to provide free meeting space to anyone in the community who was doing the work of justice. This brought an immediate result—the once almost empty building was now full of over 1000 community members.

    Allendale became of hub for social justice and naturally, food insecurity and food justice was on the minds of many.

    Located within a quarter mile of 5 major grocery chains, Reverend Oliver notes that just a few miles south on the other side of the dividing line in South St. Petersburg, there are miles and miles without any grocery stores.

    “As we started to look at the way to transformed our empty building into making a space for community, we also started to look at our land that was surrounding our building. And we were asking the same questions Reverend Morgan talked about. How can we use this land to do justice?”

    After being approached by community member Ray Wunderlich about planting pine trees at the church, the idea of started a community garden became apparent. Since then, Reverend Oliver has worked together with Ray, church members and other community members to start and maintain a number of gardens in the surrounding area.

    However, it has not been completely smooth sailing. Reverend Oliver noted that in the State of Florida, anyone can put up a garden on residential land, however this was not the case for churches. After neighbors in the area had complained to the city about the gardens, a year-long campaign to add an exception to the city’s land use plan to allow this for this essential service ensued. Eventually, the church won the right to garden  and has since gained over 50 volunteers.

    In fact, in the previous season, the gardens were able to produce an incredible 1600 pounds of food, including watermelon, winter melon, pumpkin, collards, kale, cilantro, beets and more.

    Reverend Oliver says that these gardens have not only helped to fill a gap in making sure that community members can have more access to fresh fruits and vegetables, they have also continued to offer a way for the church community to be authentic to who they say they are; especially in upholding the values found in their welcoming address, “No matter your race, ethnicity, economic situation, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, background or belief, age or condition of ableness, whether single or partnered, you are God’s beloved and you are welcome here.”

    After the conclusion of the presentations, the speakers were asked a number of questions during the Q&A session on topics such as: how to pursue championing similar projects in one’s religious community, how to sustain labor requirements for such projects, how churches can partner with other churches and community organizations and more.   

     

    Resources

    Learn about St Paul Lutheran Church and Faith Lutheran Church in Tampa

    Learn about Allendale United Methodist in St. Petersburg.  


    Guest Presenter Information:

    Rev. Dr. Gabriel Morgan is the pastor of St Paul Lutheran Church and Faith Lutheran Church in Tampa, Florida. Faith Lutheran is home to an urban garden called Seeds of Peace: Gardening in Faith Together, a joint effort together with First United Church of Tampa. Gabriel is a proud USF alumnus of the philosophy and religious studies programs. He holds an MDiv from Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York with distinction in historical theology, and a PhD from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, dissertation on Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Paul Ricoeur. He and his wife, Erin, live in Southeast Seminole Heights.


    Rev. Andy Oliver (he/him/his) is pastor of Allendale United Methodist in St. Petersburg, Florida, a church that is committed to anti-racism and radical solidarity with folx on the margins. He is grounded in liberation theology and following Jesus, a community organizer who always located himself with the oppressed, helping them to use their power to dismantle evil. He is currently president of Methodist Federation for Social Action, a national justice-seeking organization, and was senior staff at Reconciling Ministries Network, a national LGBTQ justice non-profit. Andy is a graduate of the University of Florida and Duke Divinity School. He previously served congregations in Lakeland, Ft. Lauderdale, and outside Gainesville. He loves spending time with his two boys building Legos and seeing the world through their eyes.


    Forum Host: Dell deChant is the Associate Chair of the Religious Studies Department at the University of South Florida and a member of the Board of Directors at the Florida Food Policy Council.

     

    Thank you to our sponsors for making this forum possible:

    FHEED provides food systems planning, GIS analysis, advocacy, and education about food systems and healthy communities.

    Contact: Anthony OlivieriFounder, FHEED LLC

    Website: www.FHEED.com


    J Haskins Law, located in Tampa, empowers communities with the legal and risk management tools they need to exercise food sovereignty. The contact for J Haskins Law is Jesse Haskins.

    Contact: Jesse Haskins, Founder, J Haskins Law

    Website: www.jhaskinslaw.com


    The Florida Food Forum is a free event. To support our work, please consider becoming a member or making a donation. For questions or more information, contact us at: info@flfpc.org


    Disclaimer: The views of the presenters 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.



  • 3 May 2021 3:24 PM | Administrator (Administrator)


    Follow Up: April Florida Food Forum 
    Youth in the Food System

     

    If you were unable to attend the meeting, the full presentation is available to watch online here.  

    To keep the conversation going, please visit our forum on Youth in the Food System here to add your thoughts and comments. 

     

    On Friday, April 30th, the Florida Food Forum on "Youth in the Food System" featured guest speakers Artha Jonassaint, National Future Farmers of America (FFA) Southern Region Vice President, and Lyrica, Zaira, and Nadira, the CEO's and Founders of Bourne Brilliant LLC.

    The topic of youth in the food system is one of great relevance to the future as the youth of today will soon be in positions of leadership in our culture. However, it is but is also of great important today because, as Moderator Dell deChant says, “It’s relevance touches on education, empowerment, opportunity creativity, and all the issues that are tied up with the contemporary food system. Including concerns about social justice, politics, oppressive features of the industrial food system, food security, and food sovereignty to name but a few. If we are going to engage these issues and concerns, we need to start now.”


    The first presenter, Artha Jonassaint, began by explaining the opportunities through which she was able to find her role in the Florida food landscape and beyond.

    Born in Hollywood, Florida, Artha’s parents, who had immigrated from Haiti, soon moved to Okeechobee, Florida, where she was surrounded by agricultural richness. Growing up in such a rural area, she was able to connect with the food system in unique ways, like being able to see what production agriculture looks like first-hand.

    The school system in Okeechobee also gave students like Artha opportunities to interact with agriculture as it is often a common theme in intra-curricular and extra-curricular activities. Artha explained that she first became involved with the National FFA Organization (formerly known as the Future Farmers of America) in 7th grade, when her teacher recommended that she participate in the Extemporaneous Public Speaking Leadership Development Event.

    While being involved in FFA’s state and national-level public speaking programs, she became interested in other areas like dairy judging, food science and agri-science fairs. Yet, it wasn’t until high-school that she discovered her true calling of “building an equitable system in which people have full access to food no matter where they come from and what they look like, and what resources they have at their disposal.”

    Artha noted, “Many marginalized communities, predominately communities of color or lower socioeconomic status communities, don’t have access to the food that exists already. And I knew that my purpose in my life is to figure out how we can build a system where people have access to that food and how we can ensure that we know where our food comes from and how we can be tied to that.”

    With this in mind, Artha continued to participate in FFA throughout high school as a State FFA Officer, and after graduating in 2018 and 2019, served as State President for FFA. Currently she is a National FFA Officer, serving all 760,000 members as the Southern Region Vice President, but has the opportunity to work with members across the US on various FFA projects.

    Thinking of the future, Artha was accepted to Harvard University and is studying Government and Global Health Policy. She hopes to do her thesis research on the new Farm Bill that will pass in 2023, and how the nutrition programs will affect rural America.

    How do we incorporate more youth in the food system?

    “For me it’s an easy answer…It starts with agricultural education,” Artha said. “If we had agricultural education classes in every county in every school, that’s the first step to making life-long informed consumers in our food system.”

    Artha explains, “The cool thing about agricultural education is that it doesn’t stop in the classroom, it also happens in supervised agricultural experiences outside of the classroom.” By allowing children these experiences, and especially in connection with FFA, they gain the ability to not only learn about agriculture but are also prepared to become leaders in the food system. 


    The next speakers, Lyrica, Zaira, and Nadira, together with their mother Syrheda, began their presentation by describing their journey starting Bourne Brilliant, LLC.

    Lyrica first came to her mom at the age of 6 asking what she could do to help her community after noticing a lack of access to food. As the girls were homeschooled, they would often bake and Lyrica came up with a proposal to help with a business. So, in 2013, the family decided to start a bread ministry to tackle the issue of food insecurity in their community in Tallahassee.

    They began traveling and connected with underserved populations noticed many things. A majority of those populations looked like them, however, in the foodpreneur arena their images and perspectives were minimal. Also, that a lack of knowledge and lack of resources was an overwhelming problem for people that look like them.

    Over the years the business has taken many forms. They started out doing community service then produced cottage foods, eventually selling their products at farmers markets. Later they began catering and ran a mobile business. Then in 2020, they decided to open a brick and mortar bakery and juicer, and are now working on opening a restaurant.   

    Their business has been rewarding, and there have been many pros including opportunities for advocacy, entrepreneurship, and leadership, personal and professional growth, and being a voice for the most vulnerable population: COC (children of color). Yet, they have experienced challenges. A lack of access to knowledge, tools and equipment, along with exhaustion from their schedules and frustration when adults don’t take them seriously are just some of them.

    Even though there are challenges, the girls continue in stride. In fact, they are some of the youngest advocates in several organizations and are also members of several different business chambers. And one of the reasons why they participate in events like forums is to "show that advocacy and using your voice and your resources and begin at a really young age."

    Going forward the girls would like to see more youth and families involved in social justice issues and would like youth to be able to share the impact that being a consumer has had on their lives. They also noted that there needs to be an increased understanding of what food deserts and food insecurity means, especially this should be taught in schools, and that state and local government, organizations and entities must do more.

    With the conclusion of the presentations, the Q&A session began, which allowed speakers to go into greater detail about their experiences and how to get youth more involved in the food system going forward.

    Watch the full recording on our YouTube channel here

     

    Resources

    Learn about the National FFA Organization on their website.

    Find the National FFA Organization on Facebook and Instagram @nationalffa 


    Learn about Bourne Brilliant on their website.

    Visit Bourne Brilliant's plant-based tonic website.

    Find Bourne Brilliant on Facebook and Instagram @bournebrilliantco

    Contact them at bournebrilliant@gmail.com


    Guest Presenter Information:

     

    Artha K. Jonassaint is a lifelong Floridian with an affinity for rural development & agriculture, and a long-term interest in creating legislation to provide for more equitable food and health systems in the United States. Artha is a sophomore at Harvard College studying Government and Global Health and Health Policy with the intention of attending law school and upon graduation. Prior to matriculating at Harvard, Artha served as the Florida FFA State President, a role dedicated to the promotion of agriculture and agricultural education. Artha is currently taking a leave of absence from Harvard College to serve the 760,000+ members of the National FFA Organization as the National FFA Southern Region Vice President.



    Lyrica, Zaira, and Nadira (ages 14, 12, and 10) are the CEO's and Founders of Bourne Brilliant LLC! Together (and with their parents' assistance) they have dedicated their young lives to the advocacy of women, children and families to be a voice for the food injustices that exist in their local communities and beyond. Their involvement in several organizations, events, and platforms provides them with multiple opportunities to give and receive support and to have their voices and passions shared with many other influential persons in the food justice space, as well. They look forward to further opportunities to fellowship with like-minded (or not) individuals from different backgrounds, interests and careers who are dedicated to food and entrepreneurship equality. They want to remain catalysts in the international battle for Access, Affordability, Advocacy and more for those of us focusing on strengthening the youth's connections with self, their community, and healthier food choices. "We are small; yet mighty!"

     

     

    Forum Host: Dell deChant is the Associate Chair of the Religious Studies Department at the University of South Florida and a member of the Board of Directors at the Florida Food Policy Council.

     

    Thank you to our sponsors for making this forum possible:

    FHEED provides food systems planning, GIS analysis, advocacy, and education about food systems and healthy communities.

    Contact: Anthony OlivieriFounder, FHEED LLC

    Website: www.FHEED.com


    J Haskins Law, located in Tampa, empowers communities with the legal and risk management tools they need to exercise food sovereignty. The contact for J Haskins Law is Jesse Haskins.

    Contact: Jesse Haskins, Founder, J Haskins Law

    Website: www.jhaskinslaw.com


    The Florida Food Forum is a free event. To support our work, please consider becoming a member or making a donation. For questions or more information, contact us at: info@flfpc.org


    Disclaimer: The views of the presenters 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.


  • 30 Mar 2021 11:16 AM | Administrator (Administrator)


    Follow Up: March Florida Food Forum 

    Food is Not a Human Right: Issues in Food Democracy


    If you were unable to attend the meeting, watch the full presentation online here.  

    To keep the conversation going, please visit our forum on Food is Not a Human Right: Issues in Food Democracy to add your thoughts and comments. 


    On Friday, March 26th, the Florida Food Forum on "Food is Not a Human Right: Issues in Food Democracy" featured guest panelists Will Schanbacher, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of South Florida and Lana Chehabeddine, Behavioral Research Lead with the nonprofit Ruminate.

    The first presenter, Will Schanbacher, began his presentation by noting that although the title of the talk “Food is not a Human Right” may seem to be a provocative statement, in reality, both on a global stage and locally, food is in fact is not treated as a human right.

    Will continued by connecting this idea with the food sovereignty narrative. He explained, “While in its origins, food security was noble in its goal and still remains a noble goal and part of food sovereignty, what food sovereignty has done is change that narrative slightly to focus more on other dynamics related to food.”

    La Via Campesina, a global peasant movement which unites people to fight injustice in the food system and from which the food sovereignty movement emerged, defines the concept as “the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.”

    “When we talk about food as a right,” Will explained, “food sovereignty is talking about a human right to food that is also accompanied by a notion of food that is healthy and culturally appropriate.”

    The U.S. and the Right to Food

    Within the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, there are two Covenants that stipulate rights to food. The Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Within the ICESCR, nations that sign on have “the obligation to respect, protect and fulfill this right to food.”

    Unlike other nations, the United States is not a party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

    The position of the U.S. on the Right to Food states, “The United States supports the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living, including food, as recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Domestically, the United States pursues policies that promote access to food, and it is our objective to achieve a world where everyone has adequate access to food, but we do not treat the right to food as an enforceable obligation. The United States does not recognize any change in the current state of conventional or customary international law regarding rights related to food...”

    Will argues that given the position of the U.S. on food security, now is the time to focus on food sovereignty as a more radical approach to change as it introduces a way in which we can rethink about the human right to food.

    “At the very least, adopting a food sovereignty paradigm calls on governments to eliminate laws, regulations, and policies that prohibit, discourage or impede the people’s right to produce their own food, protect their own community health and provide for their families when social safety nets are eliminated,” Will said. “Not only do we need to recognize that the human and natural world and nature provides subsistence, but we also want to add that element of human dignity. As such, we need a more robust concept of food security.” 

    Looking at Food through a New Lens

    Agroecology, which is defined as “the integrative study of the ecology of the entire food system, encompassing ecological, social and economic dimensions,” was the next concept introduced as a tool which will lead us to envision more just food systems.

    In combination, Will explained that Agroecology, Food Justice and Human Rights, reframes the discussion on the human right to food to focus on impediments to access to healthy, nutritious and culturally meaningful food. Moreover, by looking at of the right to food through a Food Sovereignty frame, “this allows us to hold political and educational institutions responsible for ensuring even the most basic access to food.”

    In conclusion, Will noted that local knowledge sharing knowledge and coordination between various social justice organizations, as well as establishing alliances across research disciplines and social activism networks, was at the core of creating a more democratic food system.

    The next speaker, Lana Chehabeddine, began her presentation by describing how she came to study the sociology piece that is largely overlooked in food studies.

    “I experienced an epiphany that the detail oriented and individualized vision of nutrition was not enough to actualize the large issues that drive most of our food-related problems today,” Lana explained. “I became fascinated at trying to find out why in a country so advanced, can we not all be fed, food secure and included. Which led me to ask, ‘Why don’t people care?’ and ‘What drives them to instigate social change?’”  

    These questions led Lana to dive deeper into a Master’s thesis where she researched the relationship between structural injustice in the food system and our ability to empathize. 

    In her research, Lana found that it was important to define the difference between “Democracy” versus “Food Democracy.”

    She explains that Food Democracy aims at boosting participation among citizens by shying away from the powerful corporate food monopoly, and going beyond the idea of food security which focuses on health access to food for all.

    “Food Democracy delves more into the ‘How’,” Lana explained, “…One growing example of this, is ironically food policy councils, which arose from North America in just the past few decades. And we view this type of food democracy as a prerequisite to reaching the goal of the right to food through food sovereignty and can create what has been termed “food citizenship” where social responsibility transcends into belonging and participating.”

    An Illusion of Free Choice  

    As our food system is highly influenced by lobbying groups, food corporations, “Big Ag” and social constructs, Lana said that our food system is far from democratic and quite far from adopting a right to food model.

    “It exploits people for labor, animals for food and the environment for food production. It is important to highlight its history as one that was built on the back of displaced immigrants and in favor of White men who owned and controlled most land across the U.S., and still do today.”

    How can empathy help? 

    Empathy is defined as “the innate and learned ability of stepping imaginatively into the shoes of another person, understanding their feelings and perspective, and using that understanding to guide your actions.”

    The 3 key aspects to empathy are: Affective empathy, Cognitive empathy and Emphatic response.  Lana explained that Emphatic response is the step she is most interested in because it, “insights the motivation to respond and express an urge to care about another person’s welfare, which is vital if we want to move toward a more democratic food system.” 

    Although empathy is an important tool for social transformation, research has shown that empathy has been steadily declining. “Our political climate in the last few years has illustrated this well and some have pointed out that empathy is purposefully suppressed in this country to enable power only amongst a few.”

    Facing a Food Apartheid

    Lana notes that the term “Food Apartheid” is slowly overtaking the term “food desert” because it more accurately symbolizes the root problems.

    “Social constructs highly influence our food choices such as race, class and gender. And that is largely because of the urban planning and redlining that developed in this country to segregate certain groups whereby marginalized communities of color were displaced into ghettos and subsidized housing, amongst other injustices, and demeaned by our food system since access to food largely became processed convenience food, which has inconveniently inflicted disadvantageous healthy disparities onto these groups,” she said.

    Although there are initiatives that are striving to solve these problems, Lana suggests focusing on creating a more robust food democracy as the next step.

    “We cannot rely on food corporations alone to do the work. Food Democracy bridges the gap between food security and food sovereignty, and this would involve a more level playing field between corporate food players and consumers to make decisions surrounding food. A U.S. Food Democracy Council, for instance, could be established and have members appointed through our voting system to provide resources and assistance to states that are expanding their Food Policy Councils.”

    Policy Solutions

    Lana and Will proposed a number of solutions that could have a great impact on the food system. Lana described how using Empathy-Activating policy solutions with education, technology and storytelling for changing our thinking and behaviors towards others.

    Will’s proposals included practical policies that would allow populations to facilitate the production of food on home yards and unused land, as well as policies of non-interference, which demand that governments and city councils refrain from implementing policies that impede the community’s ability to produce its own food. Implementing the idea of “Community Food Sovereignty,” was another suggested approach as it is holistic—from the community, by the community and for the community.  

    With the conclusion of the presentations, a rich question and answer session followed which allowed for further discussion on the many important points covered.

     

    Resources

    Learn about the University of South Florida (USF) Food Sovereignty Group

    Learn about Ruminate

    Publications

    The Politics of Food: The Global Conflict between Food Security and Food Sovereignty, William D. Schanbacher

    Food as a Human Right: Combatting Global Hunger and Forging a Path to Food Sovereignty, William D. Schanbacher

     

    Guest Presenter Information: 

    Will Schanbacher is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of South Florida. His research interests concentrate on religious and social ethics with a focus on the global food system and globalization and poverty. He is the author of The Human Right to Food: Combating Global Hunger and Forging a Path to Food Sovereignty (Prager, 2019), The Politics of Food: The Global Conflict between Food Security and Food Sovereignty(Praeger, 2010), an editor of The Global Food System: Issues and Solutions, Ed. (Praeger, 2014). He is currently working with local religious organizations on projects to build gardens in the Tampa area. His forthcoming book, “Food Insecurity: A Reference Handbook (ABC-CLIO, forthcoming, 2022) addresses the history of food insecurity in the United States. He is the director of the department’s Global Citizen Project and member of the steering committee for USF’s Urban Food Sovereignty Policy Group.




    Lana Chehabeddine is currently a Behavioral Research Lead with Ruminate, a nonprofit innovation lab focused on leveraging behavioral science to inspire social change within the food system. Lana is a recent graduate from Oregon Health and Science University’s MSc program in Food Systems and Society, where she focused her thesis on the relationship between the nationwide empathy deficit and the tolerance for structural injustice within the US food system. Lana has a Bachelors in Exercise Physiology from the University of Miami, and a certification in Plant-Based Nutrition from Cornell University. Her professional experiences involve marketing, research, and public health roles within both for-profit and non-profit sectors of the food industry. She is a Lebanese-American, plant-based home cook and artist, who aspires to tackle and shed light on large systemic issues and foster replicable solutions to help build a more equitable and empathetic society.


    Forum Host: Dell deChant is the Associate Chair of the Religious Studies Department at the University of South Florida and a member of the Board of Directors at the Florida Food Policy Council.


    Thank you to our sponsors for making this forum possible:

    FHEED provides food systems planning, GIS analysis, advocacy, and education about food systems and healthy communities.

    Contact: Anthony OlivieriFounder, FHEED LLC

    Website: www.FHEED.com


    J Haskins Law, located in Tampa, empowers communities with the legal and risk management tools they need to exercise food sovereignty. The contact for J Haskins Law is Jesse Haskins.

    Contact: Jesse Haskins, Founder, J Haskins Law

    Website: www.jhaskinslaw.com


    The Florida Food Forum is a free event. To support our work, please consider becoming a member or making a donationFor questions or more information, contact us at: info@flfpc.org


    Disclaimer: The views of the presenters 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.


  • 1 Mar 2021 9:58 AM | Administrator (Administrator)


    Follow Up: February Florida Food Forum 
    Florida Food Festivals


    If you were unable to attend the meeting, the full presentation is available online here.  

    To keep the conversation going, please visit our forum on Florida Food Festivals here to add your thoughts and comments. 


    On Friday, February 26th, the Florida Food Forum on "Florida Food Festivals" featured guest speakers John Solomon, President of the Florida Seafood Festival and Jennifer Morgan, Public Relations and Media Representative of the Florida Strawberry Festival. Boyzell Hosey, Co-organizer of the Tampa Bay Collard Green Festival also spoke during the event.

    “The food festivals, based on local food production, are a vital part of building a sustainable food system and establishing food sovereignty in a community,” Dell deChant, Chair of the Policy Committee and Host of the forum, noted at the start of the program. 

    During the forum, presenters touched on a number of topics including the history of the festivals, how they have adapted during COVID-19, some of the challenges they face and what they bring to their local communities.


    First to present was John Solomon who began by explaining how the Florida Seafood Festival came to be.

    The roots of the festival go back to 1914 when the first “King Retsyo” (which is ‘oyster’ spelled backwards) was crowned at Mardi Gras. Over time the festival has had many names such as "Harbor Days,” and “Apalachicola Seafood Festival." It wasn’t until 1963 when the Florida legislature gave it the title of "Florida's Oldest Maritime Event" that the festival took on its current name as the “Florida Seafood Festival”

    John explained that about 28 to 29,000 people attend the 2-day festival each year, which is almost 10 times the local population, making the festival a big economic driver for the area and the community. By promoting the seafood industry in Franklin and surrounding Counties, the festival plays a role in the survival of the local communities.

    Especially after Hurricane Michael in 2018, the festival saw an amazing turnout of 24,000 attendees, which gave a much-needed boost to the local economy. Now with COVID-19, the festival has had to navigate new challenges. In 2020 the festival shut down for the first time in its history, but this year, the festival will be back with COVID safety protection the first weekend of November.

    With certain policy challenges like the closing of the bay for wild oyster harvesting, the festival has shifted to supporting local aquaculture and promoting education on harvesting processes. Going forward, John hopes that the festival can be more involved in policy changes.

    “We always have a philosophy at the festival, ‘We do not change what we do, we enhance what we do’” he said.

    Some of the features of the festival are its maritime exhibit, food booths and arts and crafts. For local non-profits the festival also allows fee-free space rentals to sell local food at the festival which supports both the local producers and the organizations.


    Next to present was Jennifer Morgan from the Florida Strawberry Festival.

    The Florida Strawberry Festival dates back to the 1930s when members of the newly organized Plant City Lions Club decided to give back to the community and celebrate the bountiful harvest of strawberries. In fact, more than 10,000 acres of strawberries are planted annually in the local area and there are some 2,800 farms in Hillsborough County that produce fruit and vegetable crops with an annual value of over $360 million.

    Similar to the Florida Seafood Festival, the Florida Strawberry Festival is also run by volunteers. The Board of 24 members and associates, as well as more than 8,000 volunteers make the event possible every year. Even in light of the pandemic, Jennifer noted that because of such strong community support, the 2020 festival was the third most successful to date.

    Every year the festival hosts around 7 livestock shows and about 300 exhibitors. In 2020, the net sales from the steers, swine and plants came out to a little under $1 million.  

    Because the festival is an agricultural fair, one of their goals is to help support agriculture and youth in the community. One of the ways the festival does this is in the form of scholarships. In 2020 alone, the festival was able to give back almost $1.3 million to youth in the community. The festival also partners with local food banks each year and donates to local churches and organizations that participate in the event.

    In light of the pandemic, the festival has had to adapt, especially its programming and safety measures. In order to make sure the 11-day event is prepared, festival organizers have worked closely with the State Health Department and CDC to follow all necessary mandates to keep attendees safe. The festival will run from March 4th to March 14th, 2021.

     

    Last to speak was Boyzell Hosey, who began by sharing the history Tampa Bay Collard Green Festival.

    Educating the community on the special technique of cooking collard greens in a pressure cooker is what led to the initial festival in 2018. Similar to the Florida Seafood Festival and Florida Strawberry Festival, the goal of the Tampa Bay Collard Green Festival is to do good for the local community, especially where there is suffering from food inequities and food insecurity.   

    In 2020, about 3,000 people attended the festival in the heart of Midtown, St. Petersburg. Some of the partners of the festival were the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum, Johns Hopkins All Children Healthy Start Program, the American Culinary Federation of Tampa Bay and the St. Petersburg Free Clinic.

    Although the festival usually takes place in February, this year the one-day festival will be held on May 15th. Because of the pandemic, this year’s festival will be held in a hybrid format, with programming both in person and online. Boyzell said that one of the main features of the festival will be a “drive-thru” collards giveaway and other special in-person and virtual experiences.

    With the conclusion of the presentations, the Q&A session began, which allowed speakers to go into greater detail about their festival composition, supporting local farms and gardens, and how they are overcoming challenges related to COVID.

    Forum moderator, Dell deChant, also proposed the creation of a network for festivals to connect as Florida does not currently have a resource for this. If you are involved in a festival in Florida and interested in being part of this group, reach out to us at info@flfpc.org

     

    Resources:

    Visit the Florida Seafood Festival: https://www.floridaseafoodfestival.com/

    Visit the Florida Strawberry Festival: https://flstrawberryfestival.com/

    Visit the Tampa Bay Collard Green Festival: http://tbcgf.org/


    Guest Presenter Information: 

    John Solomon has been the Executive Director of the Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce for 6 years, the Franklin County Tourist Development Director for 2 years and President of the all-volunteer Board of Directors of the Florida Seafood Festival for 17 years. Before being elected to the Board of Directors, he worked security for the Seafood Festival and had attended for many years as it was just blocks away from where he grew up. Within 3 years he was elected president and has been ever since. John also served at the Franklin County Sheriff's Office for 20 years as Correctional Officer supervisor, IT Director and Evidence Officer ETC. Born in New Orleans, Solomon grew up in his hometown of Apalachicola and currently resides in Eastpoint, Florida with his wife. He has two children: a 14-year-old daughter and 32-year-old son.



    Jennifer Morgan is a Plant City native and strawberry farmer’s daughter. She is a graduate of the University of South Florida where she obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Education. Mrs. Morgan is currently the Public Relations and Media Representative of the Florida Strawberry Festival. She has spent many years volunteering and working within the fair industry and is grateful for the time-honored tradition. She has been married to her husband Brian of 15 years and they have two children, Rowen and Grymes.



    Boyzell Hosey is the Deputy Editor of Photography and Photojournalist for the Tampa Bay Times. He is also Co-Organizer of the yearly Tampa Bay Collard Green Festival.



    Forum Host: Dell deChant is the Associate Chair of the Religious Studies Department at the University of South Florida and a member of the Board of Directors at the Florida Food Policy Council. He is also Organizer of the Florida Loquat Festival in New Port Richey.


    Thank you to our sponsors for making this forum possible:

    FHEED provides food systems planning, GIS analysis, advocacy, and education about food systems and healthy communities.

    Contact: Anthony Olivieri, Founder, FHEED LLC

    Website: www.FHEED.com


    J Haskins Law, located in Tampa, empowers communities with the legal and risk management tools they need to exercise food sovereignty. The contact for J Haskins Law is Jesse Haskins.

    Contact: Jesse Haskins, Founder, J Haskins Law

    Website: www.jhaskinslaw.com


    The Florida Food Forum is a free event. To support our work, please consider becoming a member or making a donationFor questions or more information, contact us at: info@flfpc.org


    Disclaimer: The views of the presenters 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.

  • 31 Jan 2021 11:09 PM | Administrator (Administrator)

    Follow Up: January Florida Food Forum
    Building Bridges: Bettering Florida’s Food System Together


    If you were unable to attend the meeting, the full presentation is available to watch online here.  

    To keep the conversation going, please visit our forum on Building Bridges: Bettering Florida’s Food System together here to add your thoughts and comments. 


    On Friday, January 29th, the Florida Food Forum on "Building Bridges: Bettering Florida's Food System Together" featured FLFPC Board Members Erica Hall, Rachel Shapiro, Anthony Olivieri, Dell deChant, Tom Pellizzetti, Christopher Johns, Rick Hawkins and Jesse Haskins, who discussed how they are building bridges in their respective areas of expertise to better the food system. 


    Dell DeChant, a native Floridian, explained that he has lived through Florida’s transformation from a “largely rural, lightly settled agricultural state, to one that is highly urbanized, densely populated, economically diversified, and ecologically compromised.”

    Dell is a Master Instructor at the University of South Florida where he has served for 35 years. He researches religion in contemporary culture, using a “theology of culture approach.” He has published over 30 articles in professional journals and encyclopedias, presented over 40 conference papers and contributed chapters in 12 books, and has authored 3 books, one of the most popular being “The Sacred Santa: Religious Dimensions of Consumer Culture.” Dell is also the co-author on a text on comparative ethics titled Comparative Religious Ethics, a Narrative Approach. Most recently, he published an article entitled “Where’s the Beef? Looking for Food, Religion and Ecology,” in the book The Global Food System.

    In addition to his academic career, Dell notes how he is active in his community. Serving two terms on the New Port Richey City Council, he initiated the city's first sustainability projects including mulch recycling, Tree City USA designation, recognition of Earth Day and Arbor Day. He served as Chair of the Environmental Committee, which was initiated in 1990, and chartered the first community gardens in New Port Richey. He spearheaded the drive to establish the Martin Luther King Day Celebration in the city, and continues to work to better Florida and his community by serving on the Board of Directors of Ecology Florida, the Pasco County Food Policy Council, and the Florida Food Policy Council.

    Dell said that in his assessment of the contemporary food system, "the area which we see the greatest distortion is the area of food sovereignty and urban agrarianism, which are virtually overlooked in terms of policy and government action. Absent action in these areas as a culture We remain little more than a colony of the industrial food system.”


    Anthony Olivieri, originally from Cambridge Massachusetts, moved to Florida in 1990. His expertise in Community Food Systems, mapping of food and health disparities, land use policy, food systems analysis, and food systems education, programs and workshops, has been greatly seen in his work with FLFPC. 

    In 2012, for the first time Anthony created a map of diabetes in Broward County, a project which catalyzed a number of programs and policy change in the county. His research found that in Broward, cases of diabetes overlapped almost exclusively with low-income Black communities, and those areas also overlapped with an unhealthy food index that was created with funding by the CDC.

    Most recently, Anthony has been working on a project on health disparities and COVID. This type of analysis as well as Land Use Policy analysis is a unique skill that he brings to FLFPC. In fact, he worked with the council to develop a process and analyze 6 counties around the state of Florida, discovering 152 policies that relate to food access and food recovery.

    Another project Anthony helped develop was the creation the “Good Neighbor Store Initiative,” with Arely Lozano, which trained high school and middle school youth to analyze the food environment in their corner stores, how to map the information and how to present that information to the city council to advocate for policy change. Going forward, program implementation and opportunities to work with partners on program development and policy scanning is a high priority.

     

    Rick Hawkins has spent more than 46 years in the hotel and restaurant industry. During that time, he was the Director of Materials Management for the Breakers Hotel and led the Environmental Impact Team which worked to bring the company to the forefront of sustainability.

    He currently owns a small ranch where he raises beef cattle, chickens, fruits and vegetables, and he has spent much of his life involved in the food system growing sustainable and organic food and connecting growers to eaters.

    “In Florida,” Rick said, “there is a large disconnect between the people that grow the food and the people who eat the food. A lot of his time has been spent trying to help that.” 

    In 2007, Rick co-founded the not-for-profit LocalEcopia, along with Geoff Sagrans, the long-standing President, with the goal of helping sustainable business operations by eliminating the disconnect between growers and eaters. Similarly, at the Breakers Hotel, Rick was able to connect with local chefs to create agreements with local farmers to bring in fresh produce every week which in turn provided stable income to the farmers and also offered hotel employees the opportunity to obtain fresh Florida foods.

    With COVID, however, LocalEcopia has especially faced great challenges without the demand from local consumers such as schools and hotels.

     

    Jesse Haskins is an attorney based out of Tampa who has a strong passion for eating food, which has fueled his passion for engaging with professional organizations and broader food systems. 

    As the Year in Review Chair of the Agricultural Management Section of the American Bar Association’s Section on Environment and Energy Resources, he explained that, “agricultural Management is recognized as one of several different areas in resources, environmental law, energy law. I’m in charge of highlighting, mostly on the federal level, all of the developments that are going on in terms of agricultural policy.”

    Jesse also takes pride in his community-level work with growers and entrepreneurs, making sure that they are in compliance with regulations and that they have the transactional infrastructure they need to thrive as businesses and entrepreneurs, particularly when it comes to municipal and zoning regulations, and also raising capital. Working with Farm-to Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) for herd share agreements is another area Jesse has experience in, where he helped consumers can get direct access to dairy from ranchers on a more local level.

    Apart from his position on FLFPC’s Board of Directors, Jesse serves a Board member of Ecology Florida and Florida Organic Growers.

     

    Tom Pellizzetti came to FLFPC while he was working in small farm meats in Florida. Ten years prior, with his background in marketing and sales in consumer products, Tom began doing independent sales activities. At that time, by connecting with growers and customers, it became quickly clear that there was no way to “raise, process and sell cattle in Florida.” He realized that this was because of a lack of infrastructure both with cattle and other foods as well.

    Tom brings to the Board his experience of being in the commercial space. He connects food producers and brands with distributors while maintaining focus in that space, and stays closely tied into the activities on the ground. As a member of FLFPC, he said that he has been able to continue his passions in small farm to local food systems.

    “FLFPC is a great place to participate,” said Tom, “to find voice and pick up on cool ideas.” 

    Tom wants to continue to generate revenue and improve FLFPC’s resources and tools. At the same time, he hopes to monetize and give voice to local food people and have an avenue for every day folks to be involved in the conversation.


    Rachel Shapiro, lives in South East Florida in Palm Beach County. Rachel’s current project is the creation of a Food Hub named “The Feast” in Fort Lauderdale.

    “The Food Hub is all about building bridges and solving challenges within the food system,” said Rachel. “My involvement in the food hub has grown out of my involvement with FLFPC and the other Board members over the past decade.” Rachel notes how she is incorporating the work Anthony has done on the “Good Neighbor Store Initiative” to influence nutrition guidelines, and building on the work Rick has done with LocalEcopia to make it easier for small to midsize producers to get their food to the folks that really want to get it. 

    “We know that the food system is a multi-faceted animal.” Rachel explained that with an uncertain job market, the high failure of food-related businesses, and now with COVID and the new landscape it has created as far as food production, delivery and job loss, the hub is a tool to address these problems.

    “By encouraging entrepreneurship and focusing on services being offered, the hub is offering people another option as far as revenue generating facilities,” she said. Meanwhile, “providing a shared-use kitchen, a demo studio, and food hall, culinary entrepreneurs will be able to get off the ground at lower cost…We also have sourcing guidelines and are creating buying clubs to lower the cost for chefs and support the local farms.” 

    Going forward, Rachel hopes to continue to develop one of the main focuses of FLFPC, which is to bring together residents from around the state and bridge the gaps in the food system together. 

     

    Christopher Johns, a native Floridian, came from a traditional farming background. His family owns a farm in Hastings, which Chris had managed for a number of years before becoming an attorney in environmental law. He explained that seeing a lot of the environmental issues related to farming was the catalyst that made him want to enter law school.

    “I would notice that the different stakeholders in the groups, such as farmers and environmental non-profits, often didn’t seem to understand each other…Then while I was in law school, I had the chance to intern at the Harvard Food Policy and Law Clinic, which opened my eyes to food policy.”

    Until that point, he had thought of food as agricultural-centric, but when he was introduced to the concept of food systems, that helped him understand the broader context in which agriculture sits—a framework which allowed him to see potential issues with food systems and feeding people that he hadn’t seen before.

    Chris is currently working on two projects that relate to food systems. The first is the Florida Food Policy Toolkit which is going to be an introduction to and overview of the legal and regulatory framework in Florida as it intersects with food systems. It will also be a compendium of information for people who are involved in various areas of food systems in Florida such as production, distribution, community food assessments, etc.

    “With the help of volunteers, are currently compiling this information and are building a database and resources that will become tools for Floridians to use to better understand and advocate for healthier food systems.”

    The second project Chris is working on is a Whitepaper exploring the ways to allow urban agriculture to proliferate and flourish without harming protections that are established for urban agriculture.

     

    Erica Hall, who took over the role as Chair of the FLFPC 3 months prior, was the last to present.

    “In light of the pandemic, and racial and social injustice, more than ever there is a connection and our work is intersectional,” she began.

    Erica explained that intersectionality—an analytical framework for understanding how aspects of a person's social and political identities combine to create different modes of discrimination and privilege (such as gender, caste, sex, race, class, sexuality, religion, disability, physical appearance, and height)—is a framework that attempts to restructure the ways in which food is distributed, consumed, and produced, impacting the social, racial, cultural, political, economic, and environmental dimensions of food.

    “Thus, a racial and social equity lens should be used in every aspect of each intersection of the work as intersectionality centers social justice from various social locations. And that without the input or understanding of resistance from the people whose experiences of injustices we seek to alleviate, we risk reproducing structures that reinforce oppression through different means.”

    Erica noted that conversations around Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) have to take place in safe places to facilitate change, and that is a priority for the council going forward. “The world needs a food system that delivers healthy, safe and nutritious foods to everybody, everywhere; and ensures a decent income for farmers and food workers, tackles climate change, and protects nature while building a community of practice all while working through a JEDI lens.”

    Working to bridge these gaps, Erica has been collaborating with a number of organizations across the state. She was elected Vice-Chair of the Executive Committee, Sierra Suncoast Group working on the connection between Climate Change, Food Waste, Environmental Justice, and Diversity Equity and Inclusion; appointed by Nikki Fried to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ (FDACS) Food Security Advisory Committee (FSAC), a core group of collaborative, cross-sector thought leaders across the state of Florida working together to create a statewide plan for addressing food security; works on the Executive Committee, Leadership Circle for The North American Food Systems Network (NAFSN); is assisting the chapter of the Congress for New Urbanism (CNU) with planning their CNU Florida Summit 2021, integrating Racial Equity and Justice into their summit which focuses on human-scaled urban design; presented with the Indian River Food Policy Council to Indian River stakeholders on the need for and the development/expansion of the Indian River Food Policy Council; is submitting expressions of interest to contribute to the textbook Food Studies: Matter, Meaning & Movement; and is a member of the Food Politics Action Team League of Women Voters of the St. Petersburg Area.

    Erica also highlighted FLFPC’s plan to partner with FDACS and other groups to create GIS story maps throughout the State, highlighting social, racial and health disparities and inequities.

    What are the next steps?

    Erica ended her presentation by explaining how intersectionality is all about collaboration. That partnerships are key, and through developing those partnerships with other people and organizations, help in funding will follow.

    “Become leaders in your community. Educate and advocate for yourselves and others. Join groups like ours—the Florida Food Policy Council. Reach out to us and tell us how can we help you reach your goals. Are there ways for us to collaborate and partner?​”

    With the conclusion of the presentations, a number of Board members stayed after to answer questions and discuss ways to collaborate.

     

    If you would like to contact FLFPC, reach out to us at info@flfpc.org.


    Guest Presenter Information:

    Please visit our Board of Directors and Team About Page for full bios.


    Forum Host: Dell deChant is the Associate Chair of the Religious Studies Department at the University of South Florida and a member of the Board of Directors at the Florida Food Policy Council.


    Thank you to our sponsors for making this forum possible:

    FHEED provides food systems planning, GIS analysis, advocacy, and education about food systems and healthy communities.

    Contact: Anthony Olivieri, Founder, FHEED LLC

    Website: www.FHEED.com


    J Haskins Law, located in Tampa, empowers communities with the legal and risk management tools they need to exercise food sovereignty. The contact for J Haskins Law is Jesse Haskins.

    Contact: Jesse Haskins, Founder, J Haskins Law

    Website: www.jhaskinslaw.com


    The Florida Food Forum is a free event. To support our work, please consider becoming a member or making a donationFor questions or more information, contact us at: info@flfpc.org


    Disclaimer: The views of the presenters 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.


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