Philadelphia FPAC

September 2015 Update

Check out FPAC’s bi-monthly newsletter here, or read on for updates.

FPAC September 2015 Newsletter

Welcome FPAC Class of 2018!

Follow the links to learn more about new members Dominique AubryAllison BlansfieldLeah LazerGeorge Matysik, and Jimmy Wilson.

Next FPAC General Meeting: October 7th

FPAC’s next general meeting will take place on Wednesday, October 7 from 3:00pm to 5:00pm. Please note we will be meeting at a different location, Aramark Building’s Bar Association Conference Room (11th floor of 1101 Market St). Keep an eye out for an email requesting your RSVP in a few weeks.

Register Now: Grounded In Philly Train the Trainers 

FPAC members and supporters are invited to attend this two day train the trainers workshop about accessing vacant land. Participants will leave understanding how to obtain legal access to vacant lots for gardening or farming through various means and how to translate this knowledge to others. Grounded in Philly’s wish is that participants also leave understanding the history of gardening, development and displacement in Philadelphia, and the role that community members play toward self-determination.

Learn more and register.

Stay in Touch

Don’t miss out! Like FPAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and join our LinkedIn group.

Subcommittee Updates


The Anti-Hunger Subcommittee’s Philly Food Finder website, a resource for finding affordable and healthy food in the city, was recently featured by Generocity!

The subcommittee continues to work on hard-copy resource guides, which will be tailored to each councilmatic district. Subcommittee members are developing a distribution matrix with the goal of getting the guide into the hands of people who need it, given limited printing resources.

Chair: Steveanna Wynn.

Vacant Land

FPAC was one of 30 signatories to a letter urging the state Department of Agriculture to declare seed libraries exempt from the requirements of PA’s 2004 Seed Act. As a result of the letter, the PA Department of Agriculture recently reversed its position on seed libraries!

Vacant Land Subcommittee members involved in administering the EPA Brownfields Assessment Grant awarded in May attended the 2015 EPA Brownfields conference last week. They bring back with them new research and ideas on how to implement this grant to support urban agriculture and green stormwater infrastructure.

Chair: Amy Laura Cahn.

Local Food Procurement

The Local Food Procurement Subcommittee is generating a list and educational materials for “Good Food Catering” to provide to City departments for food (under $500) for meetings, events, concessions, and parties. The subcommittee is developing an open application process, including criteria for healthy, sustainable, local, and fair. The subcommittee hopes to disseminate a call for applications from food businesses later this fall, and will consider hosting a “good food showcase” in the spring.

The subcommittee is considering a name change to reflect its broadened mission, so look for a new name in our next newsletter!.

Chair: Amanda Wagner.

Zero Waste

Subcommittee Chair Linda Knapp and John Christopher, Penn Summer 2014 Intern, have been invited to present the Zero Waste White Paper draft at UPenn.  The report is being finalized and will be sent to FPAC members for review prior to the October 7 FPAC meeting.  Linda has also been asked by the Solid Waste and Recycling Advisory Council (SWRAC) to provide the group with an overview of the Zero Waste White Paper and subcommittee activities.

Sign up to volunteer for Waste Watchers at the 2015 Philadelphia Marathon is now live.

Chair: Linda Knapp.

Communications & Outreach

At the August meeting the subcommittee reviewed a draft report of recommendations for increasing inclusion and diversity among FPAC’s membership, meetings, and programmatic work. This research is ongoing; contact Madeline if you have ideas or resources.

Chair: Madeline Smith-Gibbs.

Governance & Membership

In October FPAC members will elect a new co-chair, as Diane Cornman-Levy is finishing her two-year term. Nominations, including self-nominations, can be made by emailing Governance & Membership chair Alison Hastings.

The subcommittee is also seeking membership nominations to fill a projected four to ten openings on FPAC. Nominations are open year-round and the nomination form can be found on FPAC’s website.

Recap: Food Policy and the Next Mayor Forum

On Sunday, April 12th, FPAC hosted Philadelphia Food Policy and the Next Mayor Forum at the Philly Farm and Food Fest. First of all, thanks to everyone who planned and participated in the informative and productive forum, including FPAC members, mayoral candidates, Forum attendees, and volunteers. FPAC members planned the entire event with support from Drexel University, The Enterprise Center CDC, Fair Food Philadelphia, Federation of Neighborhood Centers, Merck Family Fund, St. Christopher’s Foundation for Children, the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, and the Philly Farm and Food Fest.

The idea of holding a forum grew out of the FPAC long-term strategic planning committee. FPAC members began meeting in summer 2014 to think about continuing FPAC’s work during and beyond the upcoming administration change. Members worked together to create a policy platform, FPAC – A Philadelphia Food Policy Road Map which was unveiled at the Forum. The document outlines:

  • 20 facts about the Philadelphia food system;
  • 10 challenges and opportunities facing the Philadelphia food system; and
  • Recommendations to support the food system and improve the health of all Philadelphians.

While working on the policy platform, members began considering how to share this information with the general public.  Members decided to host a mayoral candidate forum to raise these issues Philadelphians and the future leadership of Philadelphia in the same room.

Each of the mayoral candidates had the opportunity to discuss their views on food policy in Philadelphia, and then responded to predetermined questions based on one of the recommendations from the policy platform. Forum attendees were invited to ask questions via twitter using the hashtag #phillyfpac.

The Forum was a success, hosting six mayoral candidates and As Philadelphia looks ahead to a new administration, food policy is a priority issue that deserves attention because it affects all Philadelphians. FPAC is thrilled that the next administration will support our mission and vision for a healthy Philadelphia food system.

Check out some photos from the Forum below, and the policy platform A Philadelphia Food Policy Road Map.

Food Policy Platform


FPAC Co-Chair Diane Cornman-Levy kicks off the forum with an introduction

FPAC Co-Chair Diane Cornman-Levy kicks off the forum with an introduction

Candidate Melissa Murray Bailey and moderator Jon Deutsch listen to a question from the audience

Candidate Melissa Murray Bailey and moderator Jon Deutsch listen to a question from the audience

Candidate Lynne Abraham discusses her views on food policy in Philadelphia

Candidate Lynne Abraham discusses her views on food policy in Philadelphia

Candidate Nelson Diaz speaks to Forum attendees

Candidate Nelson Diaz speaks to Forum attendees

Candidate Anthony Williams discusses food systems issues in Philadelphia

Candidate Anthony Williams discusses food systems issues in Philadelphia

Claire Richardson from the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger poses a question to candidate Jim Kenney

Claire Richardson from the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger poses a question to candidate Jim Kenney

Candidate Doug Oliver chats with attendees after the forum

Candidate Doug Oliver chats with attendees after the forum

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


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.


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.


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.

High Tunnel Policy Progress

Growers can celebrate the passage of new legislation that will decrease their costs. As of February 21, growers across the state will no longer see high tunnels factored into their real estate tax bills. In the past, high tunnels were taxed as building structures, elevating growers’ costs.

But what exactly are high tunnels, and how does this help growers? The winter is obviously a difficult time for growers. High tunnels help. High tunnels cover crops with a temporary protective material, such as plastic, in order to protect them from inclement weather conditions and harmful chemicals. In layman’s terms, these structures are usually referred to as “greenhouses” or “hoop houses,” and they enable growers to extend the growing season into the colder months. Under severe weather conditions, high tunnels control temperatures to allow crop bulbs and seeds to be stored in the ground.

Bill Lamont and the Penn State Extension High Tunnel Alliance have brought high tunnels to Philadelphia en masse. Today, the Penn State Extension program has aided in the construction of 15 such high tunnels in Philadelphia (some of which are in middle of construction). All together, these structures help farmers to increase crop yield.

Tax costs are not the only burden faced by growers. As of August 2012, the Philadelphia zoning code treats high tunnels as permanent structures if they are up for longer than 180 days. To comply, growers must obtain building permits, requiring submission of plans signed and sealed by a registered design professional (e.g. an architect or engineer) at significant cost.

However, the Vacant Land Subcommittee of the Philadelphia Food Policy Advisory Council is now working with the Department of Licensing & Inspections to develop a better system. The goal is to create an EZ Permit, much like the City now uses for people who want to build fences and decks. Under this model, growers would apply for high tunnel EZ Permits. As long as the high tunnel meets the permit’s specification, the grower would be exempt from building permit requirements, such as a formal construction plan. You can find more information on EZ Permits here, and we will keep you posted about the status of a high tunnel EZ permit.

The progress doesn’t have to end here. A third statewide bill is currently awaiting passage by the Pennsylvania State Senate to further reduce the financial burden on growers. This bill, which has been passed by the House of Representatives, clarifies that high tunnels are not subject to the Uniform Construction Code. We encourage you to reach out to your state senators to express your support for the bill so that we can continue our already significant progress.

Grounded In Philly

Winter 2013 FPAC Sub-committees


During the spring of 2011, members established four sub-committees in order to research, study, evaluate, and make recommendations on priority issues:

Anti-Hunger and Local Food

Create policy suggestions on how to combat hunger and immediate needs by integrating anti-hunger efforts into local food and agriculture goals

Governance and Membership

Identify a proposed structure for: 1) council approved procedures and 2) council membership

Vacant Land

Create policy suggestions on how to leverage vacant land to increase access to local foods

Workforce Development Strategy

Create policy suggestions on how to create a local food system workforce strategy to grow green jobs

Communication and Outreach

Facilitate information-sharing opportunities on food system issues and concerns between FPAC and food system stakeholders in the Greater Philadelphia region.