The Rhode Island Food Policy Council (RIFPC) kicked off the New Year with an organizational retreat in January 2016 at the beautiful Save the Bay center. We welcomed six new members and planned for the year ahead.
This year marks the third year of the Local Agriculture and Seafood Act (LASA) grants program, an innovative public-private partnership that provides needed and sought after funds to small and new businesses in the agriculture and seafood sectors. RIFPC co-manages this program in partnership with the RI Department of Environmental Management. A portion of the funds are provided from the state, with matching funds coming from generous contributions by the Henry P. Kendall Foundation, the Rhode Island Foundation, and the van Beuren Charitable Foundation. More details on the LASA program here. The big news is that it was another banner year, and we had a great response. With 71 applications received and total requested funds coming in at $1,141,596, the LASA Committee has a big task ahead in choosing the grant recipients for 2016.
RIFPC work groups have been busy as well. The Economy Work Group, chaired by Jeff Powell, continues to work remotely on a handbook to guide new food businesses who need help navigating field. The Environment Work Group, chaired by Antonia Bryson, has been very busy running the Food: Too Good to Waste train-the-trainer program, and providing valuable insight and information on the current state of composting regulations in RI. The Access Work Group, chaired by Georgina Sarpong, and Production Work Group, chaired by Jennifer Bristol, are planning upcoming meetings. The Health Work Group, chaired by Annajane Yolken, is working on putting together an event around a topic intersection that you don’t often see (stay tuned for details!) and is also working to collect information and resources to share with a consultant who will be working to update our state of the food system assessment that was put together in 2011.
Which leads to the exciting news that the RIFPC will be undertaking an update of the 2011 Assessment done by Karp Resources (now called KK&P) (you can find it here). The 2011 Assessment was conducted when the RIFPC was still in formation, and the purpose was to provide a comprehensive resource for stakeholders across RI working toward a stronger food system. An update is exciting and necessary because of how much has changed since 2011. Good work has been done, and more will happen this year. We look forward to seeing not only where our progress has brought us, but where our next steps should be directed as we dive deep into 2016!
Sumana Chintapalli is Director of Communications and Outreach for RIFPC.