July 2013

July 10, 2013, 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM,  Mississippi State University CAVS Center, Canton, MS 

MEETING CALLED BY      Mark Leggett, Mississippi Poultry Association

TYPE OF MEETING        Mississippi Food Policy Council Meeting

FACILITATOR           Mark Leggett

NOTE TAKER            Rebecca Buckleystein, Melanie Pugh, Emily Broad Leib

ATTENDEES

  • Deja Abdul-Haqq, My Brother’s Keeper
  • Ron Aldridge, Mississippi Beverage Association & National Federation of Independent Businesses
  • Connie Baird-Thomas, Mississippi State University Social Science Research Center
  • Nicole Bell, Alcorn State University Mississippi Small Farm and Agribusiness Center
  • Judy Belue, Delta Fresh Foods Initiative
  • Ryan Betz, Delta Fresh Foods Initiative
  • Melanie Bradshaw, Delta Fresh Foods Initiative
  • Emily Broad Leib, Harvard Law School
  • Rebecca Buckleystein, Harvard Law School
  • Mike Cashion, Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association
  • Christine Coker, Mississippi State University Coastal Research Center
  • Jammie Collins, My Brother’s Keeper
  • Missy Crenshaw, Gaining Ground Sustainability Initiative
  • Daniel Doyle, Mississippi Sustainable Agriculture Network
  • Andy Fram, Attorney
  • Jody Holland, University of Mississippi
  • Charles Houston, North Delta Produce Growers
  • Shelly Johnstone, City of Hernando/Hernando Farmers Market
  • Rhonda Lampkin, Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi
  • Alicia Landry, University of Southern Mississippi
  • Shamir Lee, My Brother’s Keeper
  • Mark Leggett, Mississippi Poultry Association
  • Ray McGee, Winston County Self-Help Cooperative
  • Tammy Meyer, Farm Bureau
  • Roy Mitchell, Mississippi Health Grocery Cooperative
  • Melanie Pugh, Harvard Law School
  • Alfio Rausa, Mississippi State Department of Health
  • Aaron Robinson, USDA Farm Services Agency
  • Nathan Rosenberg, Mississippi State University & Harvard Law School
  • Charles Sisk, Delta Fresh Foods Initiative
  • Debbie Smith, Mississippi Health Advocacy Program
  • Michael Sullivan, USDA Farm Services Agency
  • Kerrex Taylor, NDPGA
  • Margaret Thomas, Gaining Ground Sustainability Initiative
  • David Watkins, Soul City Hospitality
  • Darnella Winston, Mississippi Association of Cooperatives
  • Nancy Woodruff, Gaining Ground Sustainability Institute of Mississippi & Winston County Self-Help Cooperative
  • Sunny Young, Oxford School District

AGENDA TOPICS

INTRODUCTIONS    Mark Leggett

DISCUSSION       Individuals introduced themselves and explained their organizational affiliations.

ANNUAL REPORT: SUBCOMMITTEE REPORTS     Rhonda Lampkin, Legislative; Judy Belue, Farmers Markets; Nate Rosenberg, Farm to Institution; Roy Mitchell (for Beneta Burt), Food Access; Nancy Woodruff, Local Food Systems and Economic Development; Emily Broad Leib (for Samantha Cawthorn), Food Safety;

Each year, the MFPC published an annual report and reports to its membership about activities. The 2013 annual report is available at https://mississippifoodpolicycouncil.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/mfpc-2012-2013-annual-report.pdf.

Legislative Liaison Subcommittee, Rhonda Lampkin

During the 2013 legislative session, the Legislative Liaison Subcommittee focused on leveraging legislative interest to develop and shepherd policies of interest to the MFPC. Working closely with Representative Toby Barker, the Legislative Liaison Subcommittee played a major role in the passage of House Bill 718, and continues to work for the passage of House Bill 798.

House Bill 718 established an interagency council on Farm to School programs in Mississippi. The interagency council is responsible for making it easier for schools to procure and use locally grown and locally raised agricultural products. Rep. Barker first introduced House Bill 718 in 2012, at the urging of the MFPC. Initially, the bill failed. However, in 2013 Rep. Barker reintroduced the bill and it passed.

House Bill 798, the Healthy Retail Act, allows the Mississippi Development Authority to coordinate with public and private funders for grants and loans to grocery stores and retailers to increase food access in food deserts. By providing financial support to food retailers, the Mississippi Development Authority can increase Mississippi residents’ access to fresh foods. HB 798 was introduced in 2013 and passed in the House. The Senate amended the Bill and sent it back to the House where the Bill died during the conference process. This subcommittee plans to advocate for House Bill 798 in 2014.

Lastly, this subcommittee was successful in passing Senate Bill 2553, the Cottage Food Bill, into law. This law allows for the production of low-risk food products in home kitchens, and has been a priority of the MFPC since its inception. Under the Cottage Food Bill, food businesses operating out of an individual’s home are exempt from certain restrictions and permitting processes traditionally required of other food businesses. A recent newspaper article highlighted the positive effects of this legislation. The bill allows Mississippi residents to use their home cooking skills as an economic development tool, adds value to the goods individuals grow, and increases access to local foods.

In November 2012, the Legislative Liaison Subcommittee met with Rep. Barker to share the MFPC’s priorities from the advocacy agenda created in summer and fall 2012: promoting and expanding Farm to School efforts; educating government agencies, civilians, and other organizations about the potential to use local food system development as an economic development tool; increasing access to healthy and affordable foods and ensuring food security; and expanding market access for locally grown foods.

The following month Mr. Barker and the Legislative Subcommittee met again to discuss the Farm to School Bill and the role of school gardens. Presently, it is unclear what will come out of discussions with the Governor, but the Legislative Liaison Subcommittee plans to link school gardens to the Governor’s current interests. The Subcommittee will continue to advocate for Farm to School programs.

Looking forward to the 2014 session, the Legislative Liaison Subcommittee will continue to monitor bills of interest to the Council and begin work on any new areas identified at today’s meeting.

Farmers Markets, Judy Belue

Interested members are encouraged to join and/or provide leadership to the Farmers Market subcommittee. The goals of this subcommittee are likely to change due to the successful completion of its original goals.

In fiscal year 2013, the Farmers Markets Subcommittee’s goals were to promote farmers markets through training, education, and policy development. The Subcommittee conducted a survey of farmers markets from around the state, in which respondents identified three major barriers to their success; (1) legal barriers, (2) insufficient awareness of the market’s existence and (3) lack of public understanding of the importance of eating locally grown foods.

The Subcommittee also identified problems with the use of SNAP benefits at farmers markets as a potential issue for future work. Currently in Mississippi there are some seasonal farmers markets in smaller communities. Of those farmers markets, only 50% accept SNAP benefits. The use of SNAP benefits at Mississippi farmers markets is below national levels. This subcommittee hopes to increase use of SNAP benefits at farmers markets in Mississippi.

Farm to Institution, Nate Rosenberg

Farm to Institution used to be the Farm to School subcommittee. The name change is a result of the expansion of the Farm to School program to include a range of other institutions, such as universities, prisons, hospitals, childcare, and state agencies.

In fiscal year 2013, the Farm to Institution Subcommittee worked on Mississippi’s Farm to School Week. Farm to School Week is the first week in October, the same month as National Food Day.

In November 2012, this Subcommittee helped to plan and host the MFPC’s statewide Farm to School conference, which attracted 125 people and was held at the Muse center. The conference included workshops, trainings, and presentations about Farm to School programs. In fiscal year 2014, the Subcommittee plans to broaden the topic for the conference to include other types of farm to cafeteria programs, increase the number of attendees, and find a more central location.

The Farm to Institution Subcommittee partnered with Harvard’s Food Law and Policy Clinic to create a local purchasing guide for schools. The guide is written for schools that currently do not have a farm to school program, but are interested in starting one. The purchasing guide covers topics such as how to buy from local farmers and what food safety rules must be followed.

After the completion of the purchasing guide, the Subcommittee again partnered with Harvard’s Food Law and Policy Clinic to create a marketing guide for growers who want to sell to schools, prisons, and/or hospitals. The marketing guide explains the laws and regulations applicable to a farmer seeking to sell produce to an institution, and will be published later this year.

In late March 2013, the Legislative Subcommittee was successful in passing House Bill 718. This bill created a statewide interagency council for farm to school, as discussed above.

Lastly, the Farm to Institution Subcommittee partnered with My Brother’s Keeper and Delta Directions to conduct a survey of fruit and vegetable growers in Mississippi. The survey looks at the interests of growers and the barriers they face when working in partnership with institutions. The survey will be published by the end of summer 2013.

Question: Last year, in October, organizations around the country held events for National Food Day, which is organized by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Did the Food Policy Council participate in any of the Food Day events?

Discussion: The Food Policy Council did not participate in any of the Food Day events in Mississippi. However, the Farm to Institution Subcommittee strategically chose to have Farm to School week in October when it drafted the farm to school week resolution last year, and hosted the Farm to School conference in November.  

Question: Last year the conference focused on Farm to School, and a majority of the Food Policy Council’s budget was directed at the conference. Is there any discussion of changing topics from year to year to address all of the other policy and program objectives of the Food Policy Council?

Discussion: The Farm to School Conference was made possible through a one year grant which specifically stipulated the conference should be focused on Farm to School. The MFPC would definitely consider broadening the topics addressed at the conference for future conferences.

For this year, the Farm to Institution Subcommittee is trying to identify funds to hold a larger conference on Farm to Cafeteria in fiscal year 2014.

Food Access, Roy Mitchell presenting for Beneta Burt

The Food Access subcommittee did not meet this past year. Roy announced he would talk with others during lunch at a breakout session to reevaluate the interest in this subcommittee. He further suggested that the Council should strategize for the future of this subcommittee.

Local Food System Economic Development, Nancy Woodruff

This Subcommittee is the newest subcommittees, and already has nine members. Last November the subcommittee met to discuss and identify objectives for the year. In fiscal year 2013 the subcommittee met twice by conference call and focused on identifying the barriers to local food system development. The subcommittee also discussed what opportunities can be developed by leveraging resources available to subcommittee members. The Local Food Systems and Economic Development Subcommittee also discussed who they can ask for help in raising awareness about the economic development and health value of bringing food systems closer to home.

Nancy urged any individuals who are interested in Local Food Systems and Economic Development to join in on the work being done.

Food Safety, Emily Broad Leib presenting for Samantha Cawthorn

The Food Safety Subcommittee was previously called the In Home Processing Subcommittee. The new name reflects a broadened focus and growth of the needs of the community. Originally, the In Home Processing Subcommittee was focused on changing the laws surrounding Cottage Food production. The Cottage Food Bill was the focus of this subcommittee for three years. From the very first meeting of the council this subcommittee was focused on creating, advocating, and passing the Cottage Food Bill. At that time fewer states had cottage farm exemptions; now 40 states allow cottage food processing. Before the bill was passed, a pilot program was conducted in Mississippi, in response to early work of the MFPC. The MFPC was involved early on in working to ensure the success of the pilot program, and then in helping to push for the new legislation, which broadens and clarifies the exemptions for in-home processing. This subcommittee hopes the legislation will be particularly effective in Mississippi.

Since the success of the Cottage Food Bill, the Food Safety Subcommittee is looking to reevaluate its goals for fiscal year 2014.

FINANCIAL REPORT    Mark Leggett

The Food Policy Council is still working on a shoestring budget, but ends fiscal year 2013 with $4,000. In 2013, the bulk of revenue was grant funding and other support for the Farm to School conference in November 2012, which brought in a total of $10,500. The National Network of Public Health Institutes awarded a $7,500 grant to MFPC for the conference and an additional $3,055 was collected through sponsorships and registration fees. Membership dues totaled $1,400 in revenue in 2012-13.

Expenditures and liabilities included $8,000 on the conference, $230 on brochures, and $35 on the Food Policy Council’s website.

NEW VOTING PROCEDURES    Emily Broad Leib

After the annual meeting, there will be an election for 3 open member-at-large board seats on the MFPC board. The Board amended the MFPC by-laws this spring, including making some changes to the voting eligibility requirements. First, members must have their membership dues paid by today (the day of the annual meeting). Additionally, members must have attended two meetings out of the last four in order to qualify to run for office and to vote. Each member has one vote (organizations also only get one vote). On Monday June 24 2013, eligible members will receive an email with a secret code. The secret codes are generated by a board member. Members should go to the MFPC website to vote, entering their secret code when prompted. A Board member (different from the member that sent out the codes) will verify each voter code is used only once. Polls will be open until Friday June 28, 2013, which is also when the votes are counted. The results will be sent out in an email on or after July 1, 2013. The Board will meet again in the second week of July.

Question: When you develop the email list to send out the secret codes, will list be from log-in sheet or the membership form?

Answer: The email address listed on today’s sign-in sheet is used because the person who is attending the meetings is the individual who is eligible to vote (per the two-meeting requirement).

Question: What are the board positions?

Answer: There are nine Board members all together. This election is for the 3 members-at-large, one of which is a newly added seat. The members-at-large are two year commitments. Next summer the council members will vote for the remaining six positions, which are the stake-holder positions: (1) farmers markets; (2) food processors; (3) food producers; (4) food retailers; (5) human health and nutrition; and (6) natural resources.  The nine Board members meet by phone once a month to set up meetings and create priorities for the general meetings. According to its amended by-laws, the Board can also create an advisory council in which government officials may participate (government officials are not eligible to be Board members).

Question: When will the next general MFPC meeting be held?

Answer: In the fall. The dates will be more definitive once the Farm to Institution Conference is finalized. The Board is trying to send out the information farther in advance than it previously has.

BOARD ELECTION: CANDIDATE STATEMENTS    Nicole Bell; Judy Belue; Christine Coker; DeMarc Hickson; Jody Holland; Shelly Johnstone; Rhonda Lampkin; Alicia Landry

The candidates for the 3 Member-At-Large positions on the MFPC board then presented a little bit about their background and interest in being board members.

Nicole Bell is the food safety and agribusiness specialist for Alcorn State University Mississippi Small Farm and Agribusiness Center. She has degrees in accounting, agricultural economics and food safety and she provides training for crop and livestock production and assists clients to obtain food safety certifications.  Nicole represents Mississippi small-scale and limited resource farm and agribusiness operations and have strong track records in business management, fundraising, farm advocacy and would like to assist the MFPC with fulfilling its mission, goals and objectives to advocate for food and farm policies and ensure Mississippi residents have access to safe and healthy food system.

Judy Belue, Delta Fresh Foods Initiative. Judy has been actively involved on the MFPC since its inception serving as an officer and member of the board. She is the board liaison for the Farm to Institution and Farmers Market sub-committees. As Director of the Delta Fresh Foods network, Judy brings many voices to the table including growers, consumers, community organizations and food local advocates.  She is committed to building sustainable, equitable local food systems in Mississippi to provide economic opportunities and improved health outcomes.

Christine Coker is an Associate Research and Extension Professor of Urban Horticulture at MSU’s Coastal Research and Extension Center.  She is the lead scientist at the Beaumont Horticultural Unit where she performs research on vegetable production practices for small-scale producers. She has been with the Mississippi Food Policy Council since the beginning. Christine is also involved in advocacy on access issues. She is President of the Board for Loaves and Fishes, Inc., a community kitchen in Biloxi, and is also a part of a multi-state project focused on health, nutrition, and food security. Christine was recently recognized for her work with the People’s Garden Initiative for establishing 7 new community gardens along the Coast. As co-founder of the Center for Urban Rural Interface Studies, she collaborates with seafood, cattle, and food safety constituents.

DeMarc Hickson, PhD, would bring a wealth of educational and professional experience to the MFPC board, including 13 years of public health experience. He is the Chief Operating Officer of My Brother’s Keeper, has faculty appointments at various academic institutions (e.g., University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson State University), has great success in grant-writing and fundraising, and is the Principal Investigator for the Project CHANGE, which is the Mississippi Community Transformation Grant funded by the CDC. He has been a true partner to the Council, helping to support the Farm to School conference last year and supporting various member organizations in their food systems work around the state. He would like to join the board to help advance the Council’s mission and secure federal, state and foundation funding to expand the MFPC’s efforts and continue to mobilize communities.

Jody Holland is a Visiting Professor at University of Mississippi and Adjunct Professor at Mississippi State University. He grew up on large-scale cattle operation in Grenada and has a long history of being interested and involved in food system organizations at the national level. He is interested in being on the board because in Mississippi we have watched rural areas deplete and now we are watching the community come back. Some of his current projects include increasing the capacity of the food system in northern Mississippi, looking at how the local food system will be influenced by the transportation system, looking at the lost dollars in the state that could be brought in from SNAP utilization. Jody comes to the table with different understanding of the system, and wants to work to ensure that it is a win-win market for all the diverse players involved in the food system.

Shelly Johnstone works for City of Hernando and Hernando Farmers Market. She works on issues around community health promotion, and has helped Hernando to be recognized as Mississippi’s healthiest hometown by Blue Cross Blue Shield. She is interested in addressing healthy eating issues and helping ensuring that farmers markets are successful. Shelly wants to help local agriculture becoming an economic base in the state of Mississippi because the state has fertile soil and a great work ethic. Shelly is also a foodie and loves to cook and love to eat.

Rhonda Lampkin is the Government Relations Director for Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi. She has been a member of the MFPC board for the past two years, and worked as part of the Legislative Liaison Subcommittee. In this position, she has built a productive relationship with the Legislature, managed to build bipartisan support for the policies identified by the Council, and worked to expand opportunities for Mississippi farmers while striving to increase access to healthy foods. She was involved in helping to pass legislation to provide support for farmers’ markets by county and municipal government, creating the Interagency Farm to School Council, the Farm to School Week Resolution, among others. This year she also pushed for the legislation creating a Healthy Mississippi Retail Act.

Alicia Landry is a Registered Dietitian and Assistant Professor at The University of Southern Mississippi where she teaches Community Nutrition, Public Policy, and Research Methods. She has considerable experience with Child Nutrition and belongs to the School Nutrition Association and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The past year, Alicia finished work on 2 health disparities grants and worked on issues around Farm to School, including working on a local pilot and conducting a statewide survey of child nutrition directors about participation in Farm to School Week. Alicia knows agriculture and has an understanding of the farming industry, food production, and health and how they can be successfully integrated for economic and health benefits. She brings grant writing experience and the ability to assist the MFPC with community outreach and research.

SUBCOMMITTEE REPORTING BACK    Nancy Woodruff, Food Systems & Economic Development; Judy Belue, Farmers Markets; Sunny Young, Farm to Institution; Christine Coker, Food Access; Nicole Bell, Food Safety

During lunch, attendees broke out into subcommittees and discussed their policy and outreach projects. In the afternoon, each subcommittee had a volunteer report back to the full group.

Local Food Systems as Economic Development Subcommittee: Though new in its efforts, this Subcommittee is seeking to draft and promote legislation for the 2014 legislative session. During the breakout session, the Subcommittee debated which legislative vehicle would best meet the goals of the group. It decided to draft and submit a resolution that declares that fostering the local food system is a priority of the state. The resolution will introduce concepts and definitions of terms, laying the foundation for future legislation.

The subcommittee also wants to develop a PowerPoint presentation for policy makers, which will educate, quantify, and recommend ways to support the local food system. Individual group members were assigned tasks for the presentation development.  The Subcommittee also wants to analyze models from other states and quantify and compile existing research in Mississippi. Members of this Subcommittee have expertise and passion, so the Subcommittee expects good legislation and presentation products in the future.

Mike Cashion noted that when the Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association worked on its Eat Healthy Mississippi program to link farmers with restaurants, they struggled with distribution issues of getting products to restaurants because of the lack of centralized distribution systems. This might be a topic for the Subcommittee to address.

Farmers Markets Subcommittee: The subcommittee noted that farmers markets in Mississippi are very diverse – from emerging markets to high-profile “nationally ranked” markets – which makes it challenging to figure out what things they can do to assist markets in the state. They discussed how the committee could be expanded to include a broader spectrum of issues such as community-supported agriculture (CSAs) and buying clubs. It questioned whether the subcommittee is need at this point in time; the group formed to respond to several issues (such as allowing EBT at farmers markets) that are no longer relevant or have been resolved. The topic of farmers markets is very narrow, so the issue may not require such attention.

One MFPC member responded that he thought the subcommittee should stay because it brought farmers together. To this Judy responded that farmers are often too busy to attend the MFPC meetings.

One member responded that if the topic isn’t sustainable alone then the subcommittee can be absorbed by another subcommittee so that the issue is not neglected. Someone else suggested merging the group into the Food Safety Subcommittee and creating a broader “Direct Marketing of Local Food” Subcommittee, or something along those lines.

Farm to Institution Subcommittee: The subcommittee discussed its interest in planning an MFPC Farm to Institution Conference for this fall. The Subcommittee can build on the conference from last year because it worked well and was well attended. At last year’s conference, the food service directors were not as well represented as the growers, so the subcommittee will reach out to that group and will try to get a food service director involved with conference planning.  The subcommittee believes the directors were not in attendance because of scheduling conflicts, so coordinating with food service directors will be part of the planning. To promote the MFPC Farm to Institution Conference, the subcommittee will attend other conferences of food service directors (the superintendents’ conference and the school nutrition directors’ conference) to recruit people.

The group also discussed the Delta Fresh Food Initiative’s curriculum project that works on the Mississippi core fifth grade requirements for math and literacy on school farms. The curriculum will be completed this summer.

The Subcommittee plans to further develop its 2014 legislative priorities over the phone.

Food Access Subcommittee: This meeting was the inaugural meeting for this subcommittee. The group discussed how healthy foods can reach consumers, focusing on school gardens because the committee believes that children are the doorway to any food access. The group established three priorities for their immediate focus. First, the group seeks to educate legislators on food deserts, focusing on schools in food deserts. Second, the group seeks to promote the Healthy Food Retail Act, which gives loans and grants to stores in food deserts that stock healthy foods. Third, the group will advocate for removing current grocery taxes. The group will also look at working models of policies that promote access such as the Backpack Program used in schools in other states, where kids in food insecure families can bring home foods over the weekends and school breaks.

Food Safety Subcommittee: The subcommittee discussed several food safety issues impacting the Mississippi food system. First, they discussed the impact of the laws that require refrigerated trucks to transport animal-based products. The refrigeration law is a market barrier for small vendors. The refrigeration requirement has inconsistencies such as applying to eggs but not to fish. The subcommittee feels that there are other adequate ways to transport food at safe temperatures that wouldn’t have the same cost burdens.

The group also discussed FDA’s proposed rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act: the Produce Safety Rule and the Preventive Controls Rule. These rules will affect the local food system and farmer’s practices, and FDA is accepting comments on the draft rules through September 16. The group discussed writing a comment to the FDA about these rules during the comment period. The comment will urge FDA to ensure that the rule includes adequate exemptions for small farmers and roadside stands. The Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic will share its written analysis with the Council to aid in preparing a comment. The subcommittee will also urge local farmers and friends to comment since the proposed FDA rules will substantially affect the local food system.

The group also discussed liability insurance options for individual farmers and the fact that limited options for insurance is a barrier to small farmers.

Question: Can MFPC assist local farmers in compliance awareness or raise money for training farmers on compliance?

Answer: That topic should be raised again after the rules are finalized. At this time, the MFPC should be focused on submitting comments because they are due before September.

Ron Aldridge noted that the Office of advocacy for Small Businesses can also take comments and bring them to the President. There is also the Mississippi Small Business Regulatory Review Committee that focuses on issues impacting small businesses in Mississippi.

UPDATE ON MFPC BOARD BUSINESS AND UPCOMING EVENTS    All

The MFPC is always looking for members to tell them about other events to add to the calendar on the website at http://www.mississippifoodpolicycouncil.com.

Tammy is also working on an email listserv for networking outside of the meetings. Anyone on the email list can opt in to that listserv.

Mike Sullivan updated MFPC on the progress of the Farm Bill in Congress. This legislation affects everybody in the state.  He hopes that a Farm Bill would be passed before September. Mr. Sullivan also updated MFPC on the federal immigration legislation that is pending and urged council members to follow the bill because it will affect farmers in the state. He believes that there will be improvements to regulations that have been burdensome such as requirements on tracking individuals.

Upcoming events:

  • July 15 – Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association “Everything Local” Expo at the Jackson Hilton
  • November 14-15 – Mississippi Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association and Agritourism Conference in Philadelphia, MS
  • Mississippi Sustainable Agriculture Network wants to work with local organic farmers, and has steering committee applications due. They are going to hold a training course with live video conferencing via MSU extension offices. They will cover 39 topics over 8 days in July through September, plus 3 field days to farms in Mississippi and Alabama.

Daniel Doyle asked if there are ever national or interstate food policy councils or food policy meetings. There is no national food policy council. There used to be the Community Food Security Coalition that met with groups nationally but that no longer exists. Early in the work of the MFPC, we met with folks from other states, like Arkansas and Tennessee, but have not done that recently. There is a new regional group in New England that works on food policy across six states. Creating a regional food policy council to build connections between states is a good ides that can be further developed by the subcommittees or by the Board. This could be developed by attending other regional conferences and tacking an extra day onto the discussions.

***The next MFPC meeting will be in fall 2013.

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