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What We Do

Food Solutions New England (FSNE) is a regional, collaborative network organized to support the emergence and continued viability of a New England food system that is a resilient driver of healthy food for all, racial equity, sustainable farming and fishing, and thriving communities. To do this, we:

Convene

FSNE convenes diverse individuals, organizations, and other networks working across the food system to develop a common agenda around shared vision and values. 

Cultivate

FSNE cultivates and connects ideas, resources, and leadership that support creative collaborations.

Champion

FSNE champions the work of those dedicated to food system change in New England and the need for a values-based and aligned collaborative network to realize our long-term goals.

The FSNE network distinguishes itself from other regional food system efforts by actively cultivating thought leadership around guiding vision and values in the regional food system and network leadership by connecting and aligning the region’s nonprofit, philanthropic, private, and public sector actors focused on our food system. While the explicit focus of the FSNE project is food, it is implicitly a cultural project, one aimed at transforming social norms to orient practices toward a more just and sustainable regional food system. This work is inherently experimental and boundary crossing; as such, it is requires creative, developmental innovation, and a long view.

We pursue projects and activities that are both reflective of our vision and values and responsive to the needs and concerns of the region. As a result, organizations like Farm to Institution New England and Farm Fresh Rhode Island are using A New England Food Vision to guide their work, and networks like Vermont Farm to Plate and Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG) are incorporating a racial equity commitment. 

Our Strategy

Starting in the spring of 2015, the FSNE Network Team used a food system mapping and analysis processs to understand some of the ways in which FSNE could help influence the New England food system toward achieving our vision. FSNE assembled three teams to develop strategies in and across the leverage areas that emerged through the mapping process to work toward the development of a unified, multi-year plan for the FSNE network. Project teams and committees will focus on these key strategies during the next phase of our work: 

  • New Narrative: develop key frames, messages, and a plan that will enable us to shift the conversation about food in New England such that the FSNE Vision and values become the dominant narrative about the food system we want to see.
  • State of the Regional Food System Report: increase transparency and access to a shared systemic understanding of critical trends that reflect FSNE Vision and values in our regional food system. Key indicators, metrics, and case studies will track and evaluate regional food system progress toward the goals of the Vision, including economic, social, and environmental trends. Report will be annual or biennial.
  • New England Farm, Fish, and Food Policy Platform: create a regional conversation and mechanism that articulates policy recommendations and pathways for collective action at the federal, state, and local levels that advance the FSNE Vision and values.
    • Companion document: A People’s Guide to the New England Food Vision: provides grassroots guidance, strategies, and a coordinated approach for regional, state, and local food system actions.
  • Strategic Convenings: identify important regional issues around which to convene, including lifting up underlying tensions in the food system around topics such as economics and land and sea use and access.
  • Network Development: includes work of ambassadors, Network Leadership Institute, and the 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge
    • Network Leadership Institute: In addition to the project teams, FSNE is pursuing a related area of strategic focus – cultivating and connecting leadership across the regional food system. The FSNE Network Leadership Institute was started in 2016 and we aim to offer annually for at least another few years, to generate a cadre of 80-100 diverse leaders and connectors skilled in systems thinking, network and collaborative leadership skills, and strategies for achieving racial equity.
    • 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge: The 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge offers resources and prompts to engage individuals and groups in thinking and talking about race, to normalize the conversation about race and racism in a food systems context. 

Past Work

Our past work has included:

  • The publication of A New England Food Vision, a collaborative report that considers the future of our region: a future in which food nourishes a social, economic and environmental landscape that supports a high quality of life for everyone, including generations to come.
  • Six New England Food Summits, one in each New England state, 2011-2016, which brought together delegates from across New England to strengthen collaboration for regional food system sustainability. These working summits were designed to build upon ongoing efforts across the region to build a more sustainable food system, and to consider regional priorities and action items that we can undertake most effectively together.