Author: Katrina Van Dis, Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council, and Sara Miller, Northeast Oregon Economic Development District
Publish Date: Spring 2015
In February, representatives from over 35 organizations came together to explore and support the establishment of a statewide food system network that will enhance the ability of participating organizations to meet shared goals and leverage greater impact for food systems work across the state. Critical to the Network’s success will be participation by organizations that represent diverse geographies, constituencies, and food issue areas, including those serving both local and regional food system development.
Interest in the formation of the Network developed among 14 organizations throughout Oregon that received Community Food System (CFS) funding from Meyer Memorial Trust (MMT) over the past four years. Their work focused on: increased public awareness and access to fresh, healthy local foods; increased capacity of organizations to respond to food system needs for farmers and consumers; leveraging additional resources; and improving regional networking. During the 4-year granting period, these organizations and invited stakeholders met face to face once a year to share successes, challenges, and opportunities to improve coordinated efforts.
In the spring of 2014, the organizations agreed to explore the development of a broader network that would continue beyond the MMT grant period. Teams were set up to acquire technical assistance and work toward identifying a statewide vision, membership criteria, structure and support.
This February, network stakeholders – including 21 additional organizations invited by the original group – reviewed vision, mission and goal statements and selected initial statewide focus areas including: Veggie Rx programs, SNAP match programs, wholesale market development, and access to land. Moving forward, a volunteer leadership team will provide cohesion for ongoing Network development and outreach.
Volunteers from participating organizations will work collectively to establish goals for the initiatives, leverage funds, and collaborate to further solidify the network to impact CFS outcomes, evaluation, messaging and state policies. For more information, contact: Matthew Buck, matthewbuck.consulting@ gmail.com, 503-267-4667.