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by Christine Smith, Southcoast Food Policy Council Program Manager

Last month, the SFPC Community Advisory Board (CAB) completed our community-driven strategic planning process that will help set and define the Council’s work in the upcoming year. Using the 2021 Southcoast Food System Assessment as a guide and a dialogical approach in our decision-making process, we identified over 20 priority initiatives assembled into four Working Groups: Education and Communication, Policy, Food Access, and Capacity Building. Additionally, the CAB identified overarching themes that will be infused within each Working Group, such as using a systems thinking approach, centering equity and inclusion in our decision-making processes, engaging Resident Equity Advisors (community members impacted by food insecurity) so they have a voice in these conversations, and elevating climate change mitigation concepts into our initiatives.

The Education and Communication Working Group will be charged with creating campaigns that improve understanding and action around building a sustainable, equitable food system. Having access to food education and resources will empower Southcoast MA residents to make informed choices that support their health, community, and the public policy work of the Southcoast Food Policy Council.

The Policy Working Group will lead the way to forming a more resilient regional food system by bringing together community voices as we engage legislators in a coordinated effort. Food policy is the backbone of our food system. Leading joint advocacy plans – at the federal, state, and local level – can significantly impact how public policies serve public interests.

The Food Access Working Group will ensure food security and increase food access to healthy, culturally relevant foods to all residents of the Southcoast of Massachusetts. Food access is multi-dimensional and requires that consumers have physical (they can get to it), economic (they can afford it or get it for free), cultural (it is appropriate to their values), and physiological (it is health-promoting) access to food choices that support an active, healthy life for all its members.

The Capacity Building Working Group seeks to increase local food production, processing, distribution, consumption, and food recovery. By collaborating with local farmers, businesses, community members, and other key stakeholders, we will create and sustain markets for local agriculture and fisheries through streamlining food delivery and distribution channels, and building infrastructure that will promote a resilient, regional food system.

Meeting monthly, the Working Groups will create short and long-term goals to reach their outcomes. If you are interested in joining a Working Group, complete this form or contact sfpc@marioninstitute.org or call 508-748-0816 x110.

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