On March 27, I had the pleasure of joining speakers Mark Winne; Fellow at Center for a Livable Future at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Tricia Kovacs; Local and Regional Food Systems Policy Adviser at the USDA, and Susie Marshall; Executive Director of Grow North Texas — in presenting the workshop, “Food Policy Councils and Food Hubs: Bringing the Community Together” at the Wallace Center’s National Good Food Network Conference in Alburquerque, NM.
Thirty-three attendees gathered for an interactive training geared toward food hub employees. The training provided an educational primer on local, state, and federal policies, how-to’s on structuring food policy councils, and effective community engagement strategies. I was equal parts giddy and nervous to share the floor with two national experts (and heroes).
As reflect back, the value of sharing Georgia Organics’ experience was that of a good friend retelling an adventure story—it’s through peer insight we can celebrate small, yet plotting, victories that encourage us to turn (back) toward challenge. I walked away from the conference recharged and lit by the fire in others’ adventure stories in Colorado, New Mexico, Hawaii, Washington, D.C., Illinois, and Massachusetts. Whether it was designing action-oriented local food plans, developing strategies for embedding equity within food systems, or learning about a pop-up food hub and a health clinic partnership integrating food distribution that serves 35 different languages. I was inspired by our comrades working to build-out the infrastructure needed to support small-to-mid-sized farms, so that good food for all becomes a reality.
As more communities in Georgia take on expanding local food access strategies, we must prioritze investment in regional infrastructure in profoundly new ways. If not, the collective efforts of our movement will never join-up to form the system we seek. Similarly, if we’re not emphasizing the power of local policies as the foundation for community transformation, we will never create (or protect) effective solutions.
Special thanks to Wallace Center for my partial scholarship to attend NGFN conference!