Thursday, 07 July 2011 14:29
Curious about the Bloomington Food Policy Council? Attend a general meeting on the evening of Thursday, July 14.
At the June meeting of Green Drinks Bloomington, local gardeners H. Michael Simmons and Stephanie Solomon explained the purpose of the citizen-based Bloomington Food Policy Council, a group they helped to form. This month the Bloomington Food Policy Council is holding a general meeting in the McCloskey Conference Room at City Hall (401 North Morton Street), on Thursday, July 14, from 7-9pm. The public is invited to attend.
Simmons explained that food policy councils play an advisory role in the communities they serve. They bring together stakeholders from diverse food-related sectors to look at how the food system operates, eventually recommending ways to improve it. Most evolve from grass roots beginnings. While the first Food Policy Council was started thirty years ago in the city of Knoxville, Tennessee, the concept has gained momentum in the last decade. Today there are over 100 councils nationwide (and many in Canada), with ours one of the most recent to form.
Aiming to build bridges between various government, education, and business entities, the Bloomington Food Policy Council has multiple food-related goals. These include:
• Ensuring that everyone has access to high quality food.
• Working to improve the sustainability of food production by increasing local production, promoting home gardens, and exploring alternative farming methods that improve stewardship of the land.
• Encouraging collaboration between groups to improve food accessibility.
• Lobbying local government to adopt a Food Charter and take steps towards a better community food supply.
While there are currently a variety of agencies in Bloomington whose focus is to further the goals of the national movement towards a more sustainable future in food, all of these groups are divided by the specific piece that is their main focus. The Food Policy Council works to bring these agencies together to promote cooperation and the pooling of resources.
Ideally, food policy councils include representatives from each of the five sectors of the food system: production, consumption, processing, distribution, and waste recycling. It is also beneficial when they include members from agencies dealing with transportation, schools, and other city institutions whose work has food-related implications.
Simmons noted that Mark Winne provided “an incendiary spark” to the creation of food policy councils. The author of Closing the Food Gap (2008) and Food Rebels, Guerrilla Gardeners, and Smart Cookin’ Mamas: Fighting Back in an Age of Industrial Agriculture (2010), Winne will be speaking in Bloomington on the 15th of September, 2011.
Winne was instrumental in the development and passage of the federal Community Food Projects Grant Program and farm-to-school legislation. He is a cofounder and board member of the Community Food Security Coalition, where you can learn more about other food policy councils and their aims: foodsecurity.org
Mark Winne: http://www.markwinne.com/
Bloomington Food Policy Council: http://transitionbloomingtonind.ning.com/events/food-policy-council-being
Green Drinks Bloomington: http://www.greendrinks.org/IN/Bloomington
Thursday, July 14, 7-9pm
City Hall Showers Building
401 North Morton Street
McCloskey Conference Room