January 2015

Every other month FPAC releases a newsletter outlining updates from each subcommittee.  Read on for news and events from each subcommittee!

FPAC January 2015 Newsletter

Anti-Hunger

The Anti-Hunger Subcommittee is preparing to unveil the food resources toolkits that members have been working on for about a year. The toolkits are organized into neighborhood guides by City Council district, and include resources like soup kitchens, farmers’ markets, low-cost grocery sites, and food pantries. FPAC was fortunate enough to partner with the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger to turn these toolkits into an interactive, map-based website through the UPenn student group Hack4Impact. These two fantastic resources will be launched together in early February. The subcommittee’s next meeting will take place on Monday, January 26th from 2:30pm to 3:30pm at SHARE (2901 W. Hunting Park Ave). To get involved in the subcommittee’s next project, or to attend a meeting, please get in touch with Chair Steveanna Wynn.

Vacant Land

The Vacant Land Subcommittee has been following up on the work that the Soil Safety Working Group did over the summer, especially regarding soil testing on vacant lots to be used for gardens. The subcommittee supported the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority’s application for the U.S. EPA’s Brownfields Assessment Grant program to identify and assess vacant lots that are suitable for urban agriculture and green stormwater infrastructure. The subcommittee is also supporting several City agencies in applying to the EPA Targeted Brownfields Assessment Program to do similar work on one site. If these efforts are successful, FPAC has been asked to provide feedback on site selection and will receive progress updates throughout project implementation. To join the subcommittee or attend a meeting, please get in touch with Chair Amy Laura Cahn.

Local Food Procurement

The Local Food Procurement Subcommittee has been conducting outreach to City agencies over the past several months to determine what kind of food purchasing the City currently does. Subcommittee members asked City agencies about the type, quantity, and occasion of food purchasing to better understand where local food might be able to be substituted. From the information gathered, members are developing a report to inform the subcommittee’s2015 work plan, especially regarding the fresh produce pilot program. The subcommittee will meet on Monday, February 2nd from 10am to 11am at 1101 Market St (Aramark Tower), 9th floor, conference room A. To get involved or attend a meeting, please get in touch with Chair Amanda Wagner.

Zero Waste

The Zero Waste subcommittee is will be holding its first meeting of the New Year on Friday, January 30th from 2pm to 3pm at 1315 Walnut, Suite 320. At the meeting, members will review the Zero Waste White Paper recommendations and develop a mission statement for the subcommittee. Thank you to Sarah Wu and Hannah Chatterjee for their valuable input in revising the White Paper recommendations.  If you have any questions, or are interested in joining the Zero Waste subcommittee, please reach out to subcommittee Chair Linda Knapp.

Communications

The Communications and Outreach subcommittee is gearing up for an eventful 2015. The subcommittee is excited to work on improving FPAC’s outreach and communication capabilities through various avenues. FPAC is now officially on Facebook, so please head over to our page and like us to stay updated on FPAC, and other Philadelphia food-related news and events. The FPAC blog will be updated every other Wednesday, so check back often for new posts. Please get in touch with subcommittee Chair Rachel Passman if you are interested in getting involved with the Communications and Outreach subcommittee.

Governance

The Governance and Membership subcommittee is pleased to announce the new slate of FPAC members. Eight nominees were approved by FPAC appointed members during the December general meeting, and FPAC is excited to work with all of the new members! New member bios will be posted on FPAC’s website in the coming weeks. Stay tuned! If you have any questions, please get in touch with subcommittee Chair Alison Hastings.


New Year, New Blog-Resolutions

Happy New Year to all!

We hope you had a lovely holiday season, and are feeling relaxed and refreshed for 2015.

With a new year upon us, we’ve taken some time to think about goals for 2015. As FPAC continues to grow, we want to make sure that our social media does, too. Hannah and I, your FPAC Communications and Outreach team, came up with a plan.

We started by revisiting FPAC’s Communications Guidelines, which can be found in FPAC’s bylaws. We noticed a few areas where we would like to do a better job, including blogging, tweeting, and Facebook posting. We decided that FPAC would benefit from its own Facebook page where we can share news and events, so go ahead and ‘like’ us here to stay up to date!

This we are going to blog consistently. Expect to see blog posts every other week, ranging from subcommittee updates to FPAC member spotlight features. We are also planning a website overhaul to enhance the layout, design, and functionality of phillyfpac.org.
2015 is shaping up to be a big year, and we are looking forward to all that it will bring. As always, FPAC appreciates the support and participation from the community. If you are looking to get involved with FPAC, you can attend our bimonthly general meetings, participate in a FPAC subcommittee (Communications & Outreach, Governance & Membership, Anti-Hunger, Local Food Procurement, Vacant Land, and Zero Waste), join our mailing list, or follow us on this blog and other social media. Visit our website phillyfpac.org and email us at fpac@phila.gov for more information about general meetings, subcommittees, and joining our mailing list. We want to hear from you!

Cheers,
Rachel


Be the Change

Be the change you want to see in the world. If you are passionate about social justice issues, get involved in your city by creating solutions that address those issues in a lasting and sustainable way.

At the Philadelphia Food Policy Advisory Council (FPAC), members work everyday to be the change and achieve our mission to facilitate the development of responsible policies that improve access for Philadelphia residents to culturally appropriate, nutritionally sound, and affordable food that is grown locally through environmentally sustainable practices.

If you are interested in helping us achieve our mission, here are four ways you can join our team:

1. Join our mailing list
Email your contact information to fpac@phila.gov to sign up for email updates, including the bimonthly newsletter and invitations to general meetings.

2. Attend a general meeting
Join us at our next meeting on August 6, 2014 from 3:00pm to 5:00pm at 1515 Arch Street on the 18th floor. Meetings are always open to the public and provide a great opportunity to network and stay up-to-date with FPAC developments. Email fpac@phila.gov to RSVP to attend the next meeting.

3. Join one or more of FPAC’s six subcommittees
Subcommittees research, study, evaluate and make recommendations on priority issues for FPAC. Subcommittees meet about once a month at the discretion of the Chair. To join a subcommittee, email fpac@phila.gov to be put in touch with a subcommittee chair. FPAC’s current subcommittees include:

  • Anti-Hunger
  • Communications and Outreach
  • Governance and Membership
  • Local Food Procurement
  • Vacant Land
  • Zero Waste

4. Become an appointed member
FPAC is currently accepting nominations for appointing new members. The Governance and Membership Subcommittee is working to increase the nomination pool in order to diversify FPAC’s membership to cover any gaps FPAC might currently have. FPAC members serve as individuals, attend general meetings, and often join or chair a subcommittee – commitments that require about three to ten hours of work per month. If you are interested in becoming an FPAC appointed member, self-nominate by filling out a nomination form.

Here is a chance to be the change. Time waits for no one. Take action. Join FPAC today and then spread the word. Visit https://phillyfpac.org/ to learn more about us.

Katrice Cheaton
Community Advocate
FPAC Appointed Member


Introducing FPAC Outreach Coordinator Rachel Passman

Outreach Coordinator Rachel Passman will join FPAC in July 2014 to help the Council reach low-income communities and engage community members around food policy in Philadelphia. Rachel graduated from Temple University’s College of Liberal Arts in May of 2014. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies, with a minor in Spanish. She grew up in the metropolitan DC area with her parents and older sister. In 2011, Rachel moved to Philadelphia to begin her studies at Temple.

Rachel credits her interest in the environment and sustainability largely to her mom, who is an avid gardener and nature enthusiast.  Growing up, vacations to different national parks around the country opened Rachel’s eyes to the incredible variety of terrains and ecosystems. An internship at Urban Tree Connection introduced Rachel to the inner workings of urban agriculture in Philadelphia.  Personal projects throughout her college career included using satellite imagery to identify vacant lots for repurposing, an in-depth neighborhood study on littering in South Philadelphia, and a case study of urban greening practices in Philadelphia. In her final semester, a Food Studies course exposed many of the issues and injustices within food systems, and has solidified Rachel’s interest and desire to work with food systems to create a more equitable and healthy future for everyone.

Rachel is thrilled for this amazing opportunity to work in the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability on the Food Policy Advisory Council as an AmeriCorps VISTA. She is excited to be surrounded by people who are working to create a healthier and happier city and interact with the community through food policy, outreach, and advocacy.


Protecting the Local Food Movement

There are number of well-capitalized national food corporations co-opting the local food movement through use of “fresh” and “local”, with slogans and images that evoke local farms, farmers and their products. These slogans are misleading, deceitful, or out-and-out false. This deceit confuses customers and hurts small local businesses and non-profit organizations that have created the local food movement and are faithful to its values. When customers are unsure of which claims of “fresh” and “local” are true and which not, they can lose their trust in the local food movement with severe economic consequences to farmers and food artisans who are true to their word when they use “fresh” and “local” to market their products.

The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture and three partner organizations have launched the Real Deal project to help farmers and local food activists protect their pioneering efforts. These partners will create definitions of “local” that can be applied to all businesses claiming to sell locally produced food products. There are several stages to this effort. The partners will:

  • Conduct research on what “local” means to farmers food businesses;
  • Determine how to judge claims of “local” and communicate the definition and its measurement to customers; and
  • Develop tools and resources for farms and farmers’ markets to use in branding their products and for food artisans to apply to improve their sourcing of ingredients.

The Real Deal project will enlist the PASA community to provide ideas and comments through surveys, focus groups and interviews during the research phase. The Project will invite volunteers to test the tools developed. Contact Leah Smith (leah@pasafarming.org) to get involved.

The court decision in a recent lawsuit for false use of the word “natural” in product claims (Rojas v General Mills, 3:12-cv-05099) is a warning to large food corporations for false use of “local” and “fresh” as soon as there is widespread acceptance of these place-specific words.

As participants in the Philadelphia area local food movement we must make sure that any food products sold or offered through our programs are locally produced. If any are not local, we must insist that they clearly show where they are produced. We must not risk jeopardizing the public trust that we have earned in building one of the strongest local food movements in this country.

Bob Pierson
Farm to City
bob@farmtocity.org


Urban Agriculture: Growing Our Own

The following youth perspective was brought to you by Juanita Falice, a Senior at the Saul High School of Agricultural Sciences, courtesy of Jessica McAtamney, FPAC Appointed Member and Agriculture Teacher at Saul High School.

The dynamic nature of urban agriculture is what draws me to inner city food production. At every social gathering I have ever attended, food was the sustenance that stimulated conversation, the nourishment that kept voices lively and personable, and the bond that held the room together. Food is not only a necessity to living, but a large part of what makes a community a community. Most people are under the impression that knowing the origin of our food is a luxury, but really it should be regarded as a right. Involving youth in the production of food directly in our communities not only educates the young, but sends a message to the older generations: the capabilities of the youth are expanding due to greater involvement in where our food has its start.

As a youth, I am used to playing in the background at most of my community’s functions. Kids are usually thrust aside to partake in idle play with other kids, or given deflecting tasks meant to keep them out of the way of the adults.  To be directly involved in the food that sustains the community gives me a sense of importance and communal identity. I really love being able to plant, tend, and harvest a crop knowing that it may be eaten at a dinner table amongst a family’s evening conversation or served at a restaurant that appreciates locally grown food. Being a youth emerged in urban agriculture also gives me a sense of maturity. I know that when I am out in the field it is my responsibility to assure that these crops are grown with care. I know that my teachers are entrusting me and my fellow classmates with the health of a community. Through my experience in urban agriculture I can feel myself traversing the threshold between adolescence and adulthood. As I gain more and more responsibility, I am glad that intercity Philadelphia has given me a fantastic opportunity in urban agriculture.