Earlier this month several Minnesota Food Charter Champions traveled to Boston for the 2017 Community Food Systems Conference. An estimated 500 attendees from the fields of community food security, social justice, and sustainable agriculture gathered to discuss their range of perspectives, how these areas overlap, and how to support one another’s work.
While the whole conference was helpful, there were three things I was especially excited about. First, it was great to learn and share with other networks across the county and internationally. One example of this was when I connected with a research fellow with MIT’s Special Program on Urban and Regional Studies, Broullo Torres, who intends on working on food systems issues when he returns to Mexico. Broullo took a special interest in the wealth of materials the Minnesota Food Charter Network has developed. I shared the Minnesota Food Charter and Food Access Planning Guide with Broullo. I am excited to stay connected with him and see how these resources can be adapted to meet his community’s needs.
Next, Minnesota’s very own Urban Youth, connected with Appetite for Change, and the YouTube stars for their song “Grow Food” gave a rip-roaring performance of that song as well as a few others. Conference attendees were on their feet and dancing right along with the youth.
Lastly, I learned of multiple ways food policy councils could provide input into the ongoing conversations into the next federal Farm Bill. In part, in addition to offering comments on the Farm Bill itself, there are several pieces of “marker” legislation put out by various farm/food advocacy groups that articulate proactive programs/program changes they hope for in the next iteration of the Farm Bill. Feel free to contact me if you would like to learn more about the Farm Bill as well as these “marker” legislation opportunities.
Opportunities like this conference, where we can connect with other networks and food access advocates, demonstrate how the Minnesota Food Charter is a trailblazing effort nationally. The Minnesota Food Charter Network will continue to support leaders in Minnesota as we work towards improving access to healthy, safe, and affordable food for all.