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The New England Food Summit

The New England Food Summit (NEFS) returns to our region in June of 2020, celebrating ten successful years building a unique and impactful network that is inspiring leadership across our region and across the country. The 2020 NEFS builds on a nine-year foundation of network-building, relationships, skills, and a shared vision and values. The Summit also brings our region back together for the first time in four years in preparation for the pivotal decade ahead. Exact dates and location to be announced in the summer of 2019.

Learn about past summits:

2016 · 2015 · 2014 · 2013 · 2012 · 2011

Who is the Network?


People and groups have become part of the Food Solutions New England network in a variety of ways. For example, they have:

  • served as delegates to six New England Food Summits
  • benefitted from FSNE’s network leadership institute training
  • changed their worldviews and actions through our 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge
  • participated in FSNE project teams, co-hosted events and have invited us all into their work
  • aligned their organizations and businesses with the shared vision and values so that we are all pulling in one direction

Ultimately, this network has built the foundation of a movement that is ready to shift power and boost its impact by ramping up organizing skills, expanding networks, influencing policy and changing the behaviors of people and businesses across the region to create a strong, healthy & just food system that works for everyone.


Who Attends the Summit?


The NEFS is a unique convergence of more than 300 participants drawn from all six New England states, people operating at all scales (community, state, regional and national) and in all sectors (policy, education, health and nutrition, government, business and economic development, advocacy, faith communities and activism). While it's one of the busiest times of year for our food producers (farmers, fishermen, foragers and harvesters), we will build a dedicated part of the Summit program to support their participation in a way that works for them.


What are the Summit Outcomes?


  • The Summit will expand the number of people, organizations, agencies & businesses rallying around the New England Food Vision and the shared network values as a unifying force for change over the next decade. The Summit will leverage the FSNE network’s substantial equity commitment to accelerate the shift in power in our regional food system. FSNE’s participatory convening practice, unique and valued across the region, will not only model democratic empowerment but also will amplify the connections between rural and urban communities in recognition that we are stronger together - connected, aligned and collaborating - than we are when we are disconnected and separate. Food Solutions New England plays a unique and essential role of hosting all of these participants and players from across our region in a way that establishes and deepens trust, respects all voices, facilitates shared learning and alignment that support building collective power.

The Summit Will:

  • Convene at least 300 individuals representing a diverse range of food system sectors, with a goal of ensuring at least 30% of total attendees are people of color
  • Launch  the next phase of regional network expansion, activation and skill-building around strategic areas identified by our network as critical for success now (food policy imperatives, effective food narrative & communications, racial equity & undoing racism in the food system, and measuring progress toward the New England Food Vision)
  • Recognize and celebrate our first decade of achievements as a springboard to the next “chapter” of our regional food network’s success
  • Strengthen relationships and establish new ones through intentional, participatory conference design

Preliminary Timeline

  • April / May 2019: Preliminary planning and seed funding
  • June 2019: Formation of NEFS design team and call for for event coordinator
  • July 2019: Begin formal event design & planning process
  • September 2019: Save the date & call for proposals
  • February 2020: Registration opens June 2020: Host event


The Summit will endeavor to embody shared network values beginning with participatory and democratic design, centering racial equity and dignity for all, adopting an ethos of trust and relationship-building even in the creation of the event, and fostering both ecological and economic sustainability throughout.


Food Solutions New England invites inquiries from organizations and businesses aligned to the network vison and values to provide financial and in-kind support to the 2020 New England Food Summit. We are especially interested in partnering with organizations that recognize the pivotal nature of the next decade in terms of New England's ability to build a robust regional food system that is also just and equitable. Contact Tom Kelly to discuss co-sponsorship.


Past Summits

2016: Connecticut

Food Solutions New England was pleased to host the 6th annual New England Food Summit at Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport, Connecticut, June 8-9, 2016. More than 190 delegates from across the region and across a diverse range of sectors were present. Building on the work of the previous Summits, this year’s gathering explored how we will work together to advance a New England Food Vision. Case studies and stories were presented showcasing innovative work already happening in our region, including efforts by the Real Food Challenge, Green Village Initiative, and New England fishermen, as well as policy interventions at multiple levels. Ten different breakout sessions were held on topics ranging from food waste and recovery and business, environmental nutrition and institutional procurement of local food, to worker justice and food policy. There were many opportunities for networking during meals, breaks, and small group discussions, and many participants remarked about the richness of interacting with so many people doing interesting work across the region.

Follow the 2016 Summit on facebook and twitter: #fsne16 

2015: Massachusetts

The fifth annual New England Food Summit was held June 11-12, 2015 at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts. The summit included a focus on racial equity in the food system, as well as the issue of fair price and what it might take to have economic justice across the food chain. There were 10 delegations to this year’s summit: six state delegations, an emerging leaders delegation, a funders delegation, a cross-cutting delegation made up of people working at the regional level and reflecting more diversity this year thanks to the participation of individuals invited by the Ambassador Team, and a new delegation of Food Chain Workers.

2014: Rhode Island

The fourth annual New England Food Summit was held June 12-13, 2014 at Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The summit included a focus on urban and metropolitan food system issues, as well as the central place of food justice and racial equity in food system sustainability. Four delegations (over 150 participants) were in attendance: six state delegations, young professionals delegation (ages 19-29), food funders delegation, and a cross-cutting delegation of individuals working at the regional level.

2013: Maine

The third annual New England Food Summit was held June 11-12, 2013 at the University of Southern Maine Muskie School of Public Service in Portland, Maine. Goals of the summit included developing a shared understanding of the purpose and value of the FSNE network and providing design input to ensure that the network adds tangible benefit to their individual and collective efforts at the local, state and regional levels; i dentifying collaborative and complementary actions within and across states that will promote more sustainable local, state and regional food systems; and d eveloping a shared understanding of how the New England Food Vision can be used as an aspirational vision and scenario tool to enhance food system work at all levels. Two delegations (about 125 participants) were in attendance: six state delegations and a cross-cutting delegation.

2012: Vermont

The University of Vermont and Food Solutions New England convened the 2nd annual New England Food Summit June 28-29th at the University of Vermont. As we left the first summit in 2011, we were charged with developing a bold vision for New England to build a sustainable regional food system. In concert with ongoing and emerging state food planning efforts, a series of collaborative workshops involving researchers and practitioners from across the region have responded to the charge with the New England Good Food Vision: a bold vision that calls for our region to build the capacity to produce up to 80% of clean, fair, just and accessible (good food) for all New Englanders by 2060. The vision includes a set of guiding assumptions and calculations that sketch a future in which diverse local and state food systems are supported by and in turn support a regional sustainable food system. The 2012 summit focused on providing an update on the New England Good Food Vision, including assumptions and calculations that enable New Englanders working in all sectors and states to envision a shared, regional, sustainable food system; providing briefings on statewide food system planning efforts in each of the New England states and discuss how these state-based efforts can inform and be informed by each other, and our regional vision; and learning about exciting regional projects already underway and find out how we might leverage these efforts to move towards the Good Food Vision. Six state delegations and one cross-cutting delegation participated (about 120 people).

2011: New Hampshire

The first annual New England Food Summit, held March 24-25, 2011 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, brought together stakeholders with the purpose of strengthening our common understanding of overall key trends and mutual awareness of efforts across the food system, with the goal of building collaborative strategies and action plans to build regional food system capacity and sustainability. The need to convene a summit of this nature has been expressed by a wide variety of stakeholders that recognize the importance of a coordinated, comprehensive response to building a sustainable food future. Goals of the summit included to: make the case for the economic, environmental and health benefits of a regional food system; stress the social justice aspects of building a strong regional food system/economy; capture best practices from each state; strengthen the regional perspective of all participants; and prioritize a list of regional strategies, or solutions, and identify key opportunities for collaboration. Six state delegations and one cross-cutting delegation participated (about 110 people).