Follow Up: August 2021 Florida Food Forum "Strengthening Southeast Florida's Food System: Partnerships and Policies"

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



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:


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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