Early 2016 Update – we are busy in lil’ Rhody

IMG_3387The RI Food Policy Council kicked off the New Year with an organizational retreat in January 2016 at the beautiful Save the Bay center. Even though it was rainy, the water view couldn’t be beat. We had a very productive day that included welcoming our six new members and brainstorming for the year ahead. We were so grateful that everyone took the time out of their busy weekends to come together for this important gathering.

This year marks the third year of the Local Agriculture and Seafood Act (LASA) grants program, an innovative public-private partnership that provides needed and sought after funds to small and new businesses in the ag and seafood sectors. We co-manage this program in partnership with the RI Department of Environmental Management. A portion of the funds are provided from the state, with matching funds coming from generous contributions by the Henry P. Kendall Foundation, the Rhode Island Foundation, and the van Beuren Charitable Foundation. More details on the LASA program here. The big news is that it was another banner year, and we had a great response. With 71 applications received and total requested funds coming in at $1,141,596.22, the LASA Committee has a big task ahead in choosing the grant recipients for 2016.

Our work groups have been busy as well. The Economy Work Group, chaired by Jeff Powell, continues to work remotely on a handbook to guide new food businesses who need help navigating field. The Environment Work Group, chaired by Antonia Bryson, has been very busy running the Food: To Good to Waste train-the-trainer program, and providing valuable insight and information on the current state of composting regs here in RI. The Access Work Group chaired by Georgina Sarpong and Production Work Group chaired by Jennifer Bristol have plans for upcoming meetings as well. The Health Work Group, chaired by Annajane Yolken, is working on putting together an event around an topic intersection that you don’t often see (stay tuned for details!) and is also working to collect information and resources to share with a consultant who will be working to update our state of the food system assessment that was put together in 2011.

Which leads me to the news that the RIFPC will be undertaking an update of the 2011 Assessment done by Karp Resources (now called KK&P) (you can find it here). The 2011 Assessment was conducted when the RIFPC was still in formation, and the purpose was to provide a comprehensive resource for stakeholders across RI working toward a stronger food system. That we felt an update was necessary is exciting, since it has everything to do with the fact that so much has changed since 2011. Good work has been done, and more will happen this year. We look forward to seeing not only where our progress has brought us, but also where our next steps should be directed as we dive deep into 2016!

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