As we lead up to the 2016 Change Food Fest, we will be highlighting individuals and organizations hosting Viewing Parties. Viewing Parties have the opportunity to engage with Change Food Fest by livestreaming our speakers from anywhere in the world. Today, we have the opportunity to get to know the Montgomery County Food Council in Bethesda, Maryland. Stay tuned to hear about more of our Viewing Party hosts!
Tell us about your organization. What is your mission?
The mission of the Montgomery County Food Council (MCFC) is to bring together a diverse representation of stakeholders in a public/private partnership to improve the environmental, economic, social, and nutritional health of Montgomery County, Maryland through the creation of a robust, local, sustainable food system. We work to connect communities, organizations, and businesses to address food system challenges and opportunities in a comprehensive and collaborative approach. We are located in Bethesda, Maryland.
What specific projects are you working on?
MCFC is an active participant in urban and rural policy and process change, leading the way to a more healthful and sustainable community by bringing together producers, retailers, consumers, and educators in a coordinated effort to address the broad range of issues surrounding food and food sourcing in Montgomery County. Highlighted below are just a few of our current projects in the areas of food insecurity, food waste diversion and initiatives to support our local food economy.
- Food Insecurity: In a County-wide collaborative effort to address and ultimately eliminate food insecurity in Montgomery County, MCFC is creating a Strategic Plan to Achieve Food Security. This Plan will examine current food security initiatives in Montgomery County to identify existing gaps and overlaps in order to maximize the impact of the funding invested in food system work.
- Food Waste Diversion: Our food waste diversion efforts include implementing Community Food Rescue, a collaborative system in Montgomery County that recovers food before it is wasted and redirects it first to residents in need, then to animal feed, and finally to compost. We are also actively engaged with County elected officials to examine ways to increase the composting capacity in our County.
- Local Food Economy: MCFC seeks to connect our local producers with local distributors, retailers, wholesalers and institutional buyers. We have examined the viability of creating an institutional Food Hub and a kitchen incubator in our County, and we are also in the process of creating a Local Foods Guide to showcase the wide variety of local foods available for purchase Montgomery County.
What is one way we can make the food system more healthy and fair?
A healthy and fair food system is one that consciously produces, distributes and recycles food, making it accessible to all residents while promoting the health of the local food economy, its consumers and the environment.
What initiatives within your community are you proud of?
MCFC is proud to be named as a Lead Collaborator on the Strategic Plan to Achieve Food Security. At the bill’s introduction at the County Council, all nine County Council members signed as co-sponsors, which was an impressive testament to the County leadership’s commitment to addressing food insecurity.
What upcoming changes are you most excited about?
MCFC is excited to be collaborating with County government to write a Food Action Plan for Montgomery County. This Plan will thoroughly assess the current state of the Montgomery County food system and determine a long-term strategy for addressing existing issues. We expect that this comprehensive plan will inform much of the food systems-related work in Montgomery County over the coming years.
What does a healthy food system look like to you?
A healthy food system is one in which:
- Local environmental resources are protected
- Consumer demand for healthy, local is promoted through food education and advocacy
- Residents have equitable access to healthy, local food
- Food waste is minimized through the recovery and redistribution of unused food
- Farmers, producers, restauranteurs, distributors, retailers and consumers are connected in a thriving local food economy.
Why is improving the food system important to you?
Improving the food system benefits our environment, our health and our local economy.
What part of the fest inspired you most?
We are excited by the Fest’s solutions-based approach to creating a sustainable food system.
Interested in hosting a Viewing Party yourself? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, or register at any time leading up to November.
The Change Food Fest “Growing the Good Food Movement” will take place in New York City on November 11, 12 and 13, 2016. We will explore and celebrate change happening in the food system. Rather than simply talk about problems, we will actively look at solutions that are leading us to the sustainable food system we wish to see. Our focus will be on both real and visionary change and will include an exploration into seafood, plant based vs meat diets, possible impacts of new businesses and investment money coming into the food space – and much more. You can purchase a ticket or host a viewing party of the live webcast in your local community. Follow the action at #CFFest2016!