Florida Food Policy Council

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  • 3 Oct 2020 11:45 AM | Administrator (Administrator)


    On October 1, the President signed a bipartisan continuing resolution (H.R. 8337) to extend federal government funding through December 11. The legislation includes nearly $8 billion for vital nutrition assistance, extends several key flexibilities for nutrition programs, and extends and expands the Pandemic EBT program, which provides resources to families with children who otherwise would have received free or reduced-price meals at school.

    With the CR now in place, the Florida Food Policy Council (FLFPC) is asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to use its authority from the CR to take immediate action to issue critical waivers.

    On September 21, FLFPC along with nearly 1,400 national, state, and local organizations sent a letter to the USDA urging the department to extend all child nutrition waivers through the rest of the 2020-2021 school year. Specifically, the USDA was asked to:

    ·      Allow the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO) to be used to feed children through the school year;

    ·      Extend all nationwide waivers for SFSP and SSO, including non-congregate feeding, parent/guardian pick-up, meal pattern flexibility, meal service time, and area eligibility, through the school year;

    ·      Waive the Afterschool Activity Requirement for the Afterschool Meal Program and the Snack Programs available through CACFP and NSLP; and

    ·      Allow those providing meals through the Summer Food Service Program or Seamless Summer Option to also utilize Afterschool Meal and Snack Programs.

    Extending all waivers throughout the school year will provide much-needed stability for schools and program operators while also: limiting overt identification, reducing the administrative burden on school nutrition departments, allowing safe and efficient meal distribution at the location that makes the most sense for families; supporting non-school sponsors that care for school-aged children during remote learning days, and providing a level of reimbursement more commensurate with the costs of the service models required during a pandemic.


    Read the letter here. A text of H.R. 8337 can be found here.


  • 18 Sep 2020 2:00 PM | Administrator (Administrator)

    An Interview with Jesse Haskins

    Jesse Haskins is a member of the Florida Food Policy Council and Attorney. In this interview, Jesse talks about his interest in food policy, how he interacts with food policy in his work, and his hopes for the future.

    Watch his full interview here:


    Please introduce yourself. 

    I'm Jesse Haskins. I'm an attorney now focusing on food law. I graduated from Duke Law in 2009 and then moved down to Tallahassee where I worked for the government for the State of Florida, first with the Department of Financial Services then with the Attorney General's office. This is around the time I also started to get more involved in food issues through my involvement with the Red Hills Small Farm Alliance. I've also spent some time working for a large insurance defense firm, but I've known for a long time that my passion really lies in food. I've loved eating food for my entire life, and so for that reason I went off on my own as a lawyer, and now I am focused on supporting small-scale agriculture and local food systems.

    When did you first become interested in food policy? 

    The first time I learned about how important food policy was, was when I read the Omnivore's Dilemma around the time I was in law school. After that, when I started to work for the State of Florida, I learned about the group Red Hills Small Farm Alliance and I was a major supporter as far as getting the vast majority of our groceries delivered to us online through local farms in that organization. Around that time, I also started gardening more and had a vegetable garden with a number of herbs, and a number of fruit trees. Through that experience I think that's when I really became more invested in ecosystems, especially when it comes to the plight of the honeybees and other pollinators that we depend on for so many different types of foods and products without even realizing it. So, I think gardening was great and it is an area of food policy as far as making it easier to garden and promoting it as well from an educational perspective. I think it's a great way to learn about food policy by actually getting involved in the soil yourself. I think that was also a major part of how I have grown more into food policy. And finally, becoming involved in groups like the Florida Food Policy Council. Most recently I’ve enjoyed contributing articles to the Florida Food Policy Council and speaking for other groups that are part of our food communities like speaking on community supported agriculture most recently with the Florida Organic Growers.

    What are some gaps or challenges that can be addressed by food policies? 

    The issue I think is most important to me is the loss of our food diversity and how that’s under threat. So, I’m talking both in terms of biodiversity and losing out. I think the food variety of food we get, our ability to access interesting fruits and vegetables, is becoming increasingly narrowed as various ecosystems are under a myriad number of threats, and this is compounded through the conventional, by-far predominant industrial food system where there's a lot of pressure only produce one type of banana that happens to be very easy to transport and store in grocery stores. I think one of our greatest promises as food communities is to support local food systems through farmers markets and community supported agriculture. And also the great work that Florida Food Policy Council has done in terms of educating everybody about local food systems as well.

    What current projects are you working on? What are you excited about?

    I’m really excited about the promise of community supported agriculture. That’s one of the projects that I've been undertaking. Especially speaking at Florida Organic Growers symposiums about how community supported agriculture is really a great opportunity for the entire community. We are talking about producers and eaters, which should be everyone, to become more self-sustainable, to help growers manage risk, specifically the risk of crop failure, by helping distribute that risk if something goes wrong and spreading it out across all the different members of food communities both growers and eaters. And I think community supported agriculture, as I mentioned earlier, is a great way to help make our food communities and our local food systems more financially sustainable, better able to handle risk, and better able to be the guardians of our heirloom crops.

    I just for example learned about how to cook taro leaves which, this is a digression, but taro uncooked is poisonous. It can cause severe scratchiness and irritation to the throat, but cooked correctly, boiled for a substantial period of time, it is absolutely delicious. It is, I learned, a staple of Filipino cuisine, and I think farmers markets and community supported agriculture can really open up everyone's eyes to these new foods that are a great cultural gateway, a great way to preserve people’s own food heritage, to appreciate others and to literally savor new experiences. Community Supported Agriculture does a great job with that. Farmers markets do a great job with it. 

    So one of my overwriting projects and endeavors has been to help develop ways to build a contract, a framework where everyone can understand where the other side is coming from, whether that's the grower or the eater, to understand the risks they come with and to help manage risks and to understand the role they play.

    Please explain a little more about the purpose of contracts.

    A lot of people have this misperception that when we're talking about contracts this is all to prevent people from suing each other and there are concerns that it creates distance between people. But I don't think contracts should be viewed that way. Contracts aren't just legal documents; they serve several different important functions. It sets the terms of a relationship.

    I'll give one example about that in the context of community-supported agriculture. There was one community member quoted in a survey who said he was disappointed with the experience because he didn't like purple carrots and what he termed “guesses squash.” He said, “We weren't expecting this.” If there was a contract in place explaining what the purpose of community supported  agriculture was and what a community member can expect, those are the types of community eater relation misunderstandings that can be averted when there is a well drafted, nicely toned contract that spells out what the risks are and what the growers concerns are.  And that's actually at the sort of progenitor of the CSA community supported agriculture movement. So, a contract is essentially a groundwork for having a relationship.

    Especially for newcomers who may not know exactly what their role is, it memorializes a relationship so that when people forget details, and most of us actually recall very little, a contract makes it easy to look back and see exactly what this was agreed upon. And it's especially important now when Amazon has emerged as the prevailing assumption of how transactions are done, that there are going to be guarantees, that you are going to know exactly the product that you are receiving, and that if you are not satisfied, you can ask for a refund. We know this isn't the way community supported agriculture works. We know this isn't the way natural farming works. And that's why it's especially important now to have those types of written agreements. So, I think having written contracts are very important in agriculture and there is a way to do it to actually build relationships and to close barriers between different segments of the community.

    What are your hopes for the future? How can policy get us there? 

    I think we can hope for a future where there is a broader recognition that reliance on local food systems is more sustainable, more environmentally sustainable, especially in light of the current pandemic. Also, more financially sustainable in the long run for everybody. I think that the current situation is absolutely tragic, but I think the silver lining might be that there is a renewed Interest in local food systems, farmers markets, and community supported agriculture. I also think it's a wake-up call in a sense for a lot of people within the food system and advocates as to realizing a greater potential, especially when we look at online delivery systems. So, my hope for the future would be that there is a broader public understanding about the vital role that local food systems play, and why especially now it should be a lot more appealing. As I mentioned earlier, especially when it comes to safeguarding our heirloom vegetables and fruits and dishes, and our culinary heritage as well.


    Bio: Jesse Haskins started J. Haskins Law, P.A. to focus on local food communities. Jesse builds partnerships between farmers and communities. Prior to dedicating his practice to local agriculture, Jesse served as assistant attorney general for the State of Florida, assistant general counsel for the Florida Department of Financial Services, and as attorney for a large insurance defense firm. Jesse graduated from the Duke University School of Law in 2009. Jesse is an avid foodie. His favorite ingredient is tahini.

    Website: www.jhaskinslaw.com


    Disclaimer: The views of the interviewee do not represent the views of the Florida Food Policy Council. We are a forum for the offering and sharing of information and encourage diversity and communication within the food system.

  • 25 Aug 2020 9:29 AM | Administrator (Administrator)

    An Interview with Artha Jonassaint


    Artha Jonassaint is an Administrative Intern at the Florida Food Policy Council. In this interview, she discusses her interest in food policy, current projects and her hopes for the future.

    Watch her full interview here:


    Please introduce yourself.

    Hi everyone! My name is Artha Jonassaint. I'm 20 years old and I am a rising sophomore at Harvard College studying government and global health and health policy. Long term I hope to attend law school and then pursue a career in which I contribute to more equitable food and health systems in the United States. I'm from Okeechobee, Florida, and I'll be here for a while because we will not be heading back to campus because of the coronavirus pandemic, but I'm really excited to re-engage with my hometown and stay connected to my roots.

    Before matriculating at Harvard, I was the Florida FFA state president. The FSA is a really robust organization that engages young people and students with the agriculture industry through leadership opportunities and their education happening in their classrooms. I am of Haitian descent, my parents immigrated from Haiti to the U.S. in the eighties and then they got their family started right here in sunny South Florida. I am just so excited to be a part of the Florida Food Policy Council team this year. 

    How did you become interested in food policy? 

    My interest in food policy started in high school. I was enrolled in agricultural education courses and I was also a member of FFA, which stands for Future Farmers of America, however that organization kind of has morphed into you the national FFA organization to reflect that the members of our organization become more than just farmers. My involvement within that organization coupled with my course load in high school revealed a passion and affinity for our food system.

    I always thought it was baffling that we grow so much food in the United States, and we grow so much food across the globe, yet people don't have access to that food. Sometimes it's not affordable, sometimes they don't have cars to get to that food, and I thought that policy was the best way to solve those kinds of issues. And, I also had a natural affinity for the legislative process. I really liked government and I remember being in my seventh-grade civics class and so engaged in everything that we were learning then, and that's me all the way through my career throughout the FFA and in college. That's really what led me to the word of the policy council as well. 

    What topics excite you most? 

    There are so many topics that I find so enticing and so exciting about the policy but I think something that I learned recently that has really stuck with me is something called a food swap. We talk a lot about food deserts and people not having access to healthy foods or a grocery store or farmer's market, but there's also people who live in a food desert which is also a food swap. So, while they may not have access to a farmer’s market or grocery store, they have access to McDonald's and Papa Johns and all of these really fatty foods that make it hard for people to get the nutrients that they need for a healthy diet. And I think it's just so crazy that these food swamps often are in rural areas like Okeechobee, and they are also in the inner cities. So, with that you see different demographics disproportionately affected by having access to only exclusively unhealthy foods. So, whether that's low-income people, people of color, or indigenous people, they don't have the same access to healthy foods and that is just so unfair. It's something that we can totally solve as long as we're working together. 

    What is one of your favorite current projects? 

    One of my favorite current projects is something that I did very recently and it had to do with urban agriculture in with it growing food within localities and what that looks like. For me that was super interesting to see just how much our local governments have in giving zoning ordinances and what can happen where, like building a community garden isn't such a streamlined process. If you are going to sell food for profit, there are certain things and obstacles and hoops that you have to jump through in order to make that happen. So, I thought that was very interesting because in the state of Florida alone there are 67 different counties, meaning there 67 different rules of the land that someone has to understand depending on where they are. So, I thought that was really interesting and it's something that I really enjoyed working on because I didn't know a lot about it going into the project.

    Another project that I really liked was to get the Florida Food Policy Council’s LinkedIn page started, being able to connect on that and seeing all of the great articles that are shared on LinkedIn. 

    How can young people get more involved in food policy?

    I think the first step to getting young people engaged in food policy and agriculture and accessibility, all of these kinds of issues, is letting them know that it is an issue that is of relevance to their lives. I really didn't know how food policy affected me until I was in high school and I realized that free and reduced lunch is something that is a part of a government program in that people in my class had access to food every single day because of something the government put in place in regards to food policy. So I think first and foremost, agriculturalists, policymakers, lobbyist, whomever is a stakeholder within the food industry, we just have to do a better job of letting people know that it affects their lives, that it affects their families, that it affects their friends, and once they know that it's an issue, then it's really easy to get them involved.

    I mean, we can see just how incredible the younger generation of people are in wielding change and fighting for what's right, so when they know that there is something that isn't right, it's easier for us to come together to go in the streets, to lobby, to go advocate for ourselves to our congresspeople about these issues.

    So, I think that the first problem is that we don't know it's a problem. Once we know, then we can do a better job of rallying together with stakeholders in the food industry. We have already done it for so many different issues. Young people are leading the charge in gun reform in so many other industries within our country, so here we are with the food industry. I think as soon as people see that light turned on, we can see change and get young people involved.

    What are your hopes for the future?

    My hope for the future—I'm just going to be bold and say that I want to see food insecurity eradicated. There's just no excuse that every single person does not have access to an affordable, safe, abundant, and healthy food supply, and I think we can get there. I think we need as many hands on deck as possible, as many allies, as many people actively fighting that fight, but that is something that I want to see for the future.

    In a similar vein, I would love to see more people of color, more Black people, and more indigenous people re-engaging in agriculture. So many of our agricultural practices, back when this country was incepted to now, are because of the formative work at those groups of people put into our country and into our agriculture industry. Whether that's land redistribution or other kinds of policies to ensure that they get back to their roots and growing food for this country, I would love to see just more people who were once involved in agriculture come back. I think with that comes going to schools, telling students that agriculture is relevant, that it's fun, it's fresh and we need all kinds of people in all kinds of places to be engaged. So, a more diverse agricultural sector more generally, as well as an eradication of food insecurity, would be my two hopes for the future.


    Bio: Artha K. Jonassaint is a lifelong Floridian with an affinity for agriculture and a long-term interest in creating legislation to provide for more equitable food and health systems in the United States. Artha is a rising sophomore at Harvard College studying Government and Global Health and Health Policy with the intention of attending law school upon graduation. Prior to matriculating at Harvard, Artha served as the Florida FFA State President, a role dedicated to the promotion of agriculture and agricultural education. Artha is excited to join the Florida Food Policy Council team this summer to further her knowledge of the intersection of policy and food systems in our state.


    Disclaimer: The views of the interviewee do not represent the views of the Florida Food Policy Council. We are a forum for the offering and sharing of information and encourage diversity and communication within the food system.

     


  • 10 Aug 2020 5:58 PM | Administrator (Administrator)


    On August 6th, Governor Ron DeSantis signed Executive Order 20-192 which rescinds the previous employee screening requirements for restaurant employees. 

    Under this order, employees who have previously tested positive no longer need to receive two negative tests before going back to work. Employers are required only to implement screening protocols pursuant to CDC guidance.

    CDC FAQ for businesses can be found here.

    The order follows a July update to the CDC's guidelines. Under the new guidelines, patients recovering from COVID-19 can stop self-isolating 10 days after the first appearance of symptoms, down from the previous recommendation of 14 days, providing that patients don't have a fever or show any new symptoms.

    The guidelines do say that business owners and managers should, however, "actively encourage employees who are sick or have recently had a close contact with a person with COVID-19 to stay home."

    Read the full executive order here.


  • 5 Aug 2020 11:33 AM | Administrator (Administrator)

    Senators Chris Coons (left) and Roger Wicker (right).

    A bipartisan group of Senators is hoping to get a new bill passed that could have a big impact on how the United States continues to tackle COVID-19.

    The Cultivating Opportunity and Response to the Pandemic through Service Act (CORPS Act), which was first introduced to Congress on June 16th by Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) and Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), is legislation that would significantly expand national service programs to help the country respond to and recover from the public health, economic, and social crises facing the nation in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

    “Thousands of young people across the country are calling for greater opportunity and for new and meaningful engagement to address persistent inequities that have only been exacerbated by COVID-19,”Senator Chris Coons of Delaware said in a press release. “Now is the time to mobilize that energy to make our communities stronger and healthier for everyone.”

    The bill would double the number of AmeriCorps positions available this year to 150,000 and provide a total of 600,000 service opportunities nationwide over the next three years to unemployed youth and others looking to assist their communities. 

    AmeriCorps is a network of national service programs that address critical community needs, including increasing academic achievement, mentoring youth, fighting poverty and sustaining national parks, among other things.  

    These positions could support a variety of response and recovery efforts based on community needs, including expanding food pantry capacity, mentoring and tutoring at-risk students, bridging health inequities by expanding access to COVID-19 screening and testing, and more.

    “As our nation strives to recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, it is vital that Americans are able to get back to dignified work,” Florida Senator Marco Rubio said. “I am proud to join my Senate colleagues in introducing legislation that will help Americans, especially Americans facing unemployment, contribute to our recovery by serving our local communities, promoting public health, and promoting economic recovery both for themselves and their own families, and for the community and nation they serve.”

    The bill has gained support from more than 150 organizations, including Habitat for Humanity International, Hunger Free America, National Health Corps, Service Year Alliance, FoodCorps, and The Corps Network. A full list of supportive organizations can be accessed here.

    For a one-pager of the bill, click here.

     

  • 26 Jul 2020 11:00 AM | Administrator (Administrator)


    The City of New Port Richey has officially become the 211th city to sign on to the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact after deliberating during its July 7th City Council meeting.

    New Port Richey is now the second city in Florida to join the pact after Miami.

    Created in 2015, the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact is a global initiative that aims to create a network of cities committed to developing and implementing sustainable food systems.

    “The ideals are outstanding and yet I think the pact itself is very pragmatic in its approach in that it recognizes there are no cities that are there yet,” said Dell deChant, who serves as New Port Richey’s Environmental Committee Chairman and Policy Committee Chair for the Florida Food Policy Council. “Worldwide, we don’t have any cities that are living up to fullness of this ideal. But what the pact says is the cities that are engaged in this are the committed to getting there, that are committed to becoming sustainable and creating durable food systems.”

    By signing the pact, the city is committing to the following seven actions:

    1.   Working to develop sustainable food systems that are inclusive, resilient, safe and diverse, that provide healthy and affordable food to all people in a human rights-based framework, that minimise waste and conserve biodiversity while adapting to and mitigating impacts of climate change;

    2.   Encouraging interdepartmental and cross-sector coordination at municipal and community levels, working to integrate urban food policy considerations into social, economic and environment policies, programmes and initiatives, such as, inter alia, food supply and distribution, social protection, nutrition, equity, food production, education, food safety and waste reduction;

    3.   Seeking coherence between municipal food-related policies and programmes and relevant subnational, national, regional and international policies and processes;

    4.   Engaging all sectors within the food system (including neighbouring authorities, technical and academic organizations, civil society, small scale producers, and the private sector) in the formulation, implementation and assessment of all food-related policies, programmes and initiatives;

    5.   Reviewing and amending existing urban policies, plans and regulations in order to encourage the establishment of equitable, resilient and sustainable food systems;

    6.   Using the Framework for Action as a starting point for each city to address the development of their own urban food system and we will share developments with participating cities and our national governments and international agencies when appropriate;

    7.   Encouraging other cities to join our food policy actions.

    “What’s cool about the pact from my perspective in terms of the city of New Port Richey is that we’re already doing these things,” deChant said. “We’re already engaged in creating a resilient food system here in New Port Richey,” such as seasonal food events, urban food policy projects and community, market and residential gardens.

    “We already are well along the road to a sustainable food system and well ahead of many other communities,” deChant added. “This puts us into contact with other cities that are doing it and gets us exposed to programs that are available to us.”

    Signing onto the pact is free. The main requirement is designation of a Focal Point, a person inside the city’s administration, to follow all communication and activities related to the pact. For New Port Richey that will be Earl R. Hahn, Development Department Director.

    With the many benefits of the pact, perhaps other cities around Florida that are interested in creating more resilient food systems will subscribe.


  • 23 Jul 2020 11:19 AM | Administrator (Administrator)

    Representatives Marcia L. Fudge (left) and Barbara Lee (right).

    On July 16th, a resolution calling on Congress to reaffirm the rights of all Americans living in poverty was introduced through the Poverty Bill of Rights by Representatives Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11) and Barbara Lee (CA-13).

    “The persistence of widespread poverty in the wealthiest nation in the world is both a moral and policy failure,” said Rep. Fudge in a press release.  “The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the glaring inequality and deep injustices that plague our country today.  Millions of families who were already struggling to make ends meet have been disproportionately impacted by illness, job and wage losses, evictions, utility shut offs, and growing food insecurity.  During this time of great need, we must uplift low-income Americans and recognize their rights to equal opportunity, a living wage, housing, education, quality health care, and assistance in times of need.  Declaring the fundamental economic rights of all Americans is the first step towards building a future where men, women and children do not suffer the effects of poverty in America.”

    The United States continues to have one of the highest rates of poverty among developed nations, despite being one of the richest countries in the world. Prior to the pandemic, about 1 in 8 Americans lived below the poverty line and across the country, millions of families and individuals living at or near the federal poverty line struggle to afford basic needs, from health care and housing to utilities and food expenses.

    Representative Lee also commented, “We are facing a pandemic and a poverty crisis in this country – both of which disproportionately impact communities of color...This is a national emergency. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed just how deep inequality runs in this country, with 17 million people unemployed and 23 million renters facing the threat of eviction.  As chair of the Democratic Whip Task Force on Poverty, Income Inequality and Opportunity, I strongly support the establishment of a Poverty Bill of Rights to address inequities in housing, education, and health care as well as strengthen the social safety net.” 

    The resolution outlines 23 rights that all Americans should have to live a life free from poverty and its impacts:

    1) The right to equal opportunity, irrespective of race, gender, or socioeconomic status.

    2) The right to working family tax credits, such as the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, that are proven to lift families out of poverty, free from onerous eligibility requirements.

    3) The right to a livable wage that is enough to ensure adequate housing, food, clothing and other basic household needs.

    4) The right to robust paid leave programs so that they can care for themselves, their families, and dependents without fear of financial devastation.

    5) The right to emergency financial assistance in times of unemployment.

    6) The right to unionize to negotiate for higher wages, better benefits, and safe working conditions.

    7) The right to financial security for themselves and their families during retirement years.

    8) The right to quality, affordable health care and prescription drugs.

    9) The right to clean air through robust environmental and public health policies.

    10) The right to high-quality, affordable, and reliable childcare.

    11) The right to accessible,  affordable, safe housing.

    12) The right to safe, clean, and affordable water and wastewater services.

    13) The right to affordable, reliable energy service.

    14) The right to equitable access to technology and telephone and broadband services.

    15) The right to adequate access to affordable and nutritious foods.

    16) The right to reliable, efficient, and affordable public transportation.

    17) The right to high-quality, equitable PreK-12 public education.

    18) The right to safe public schools that promote racial and socioeconomic diversity.

    19) The right to access affordable higher education, registered apprenticeships, and other vocational training opportunities.

    20) The right to live with their families and not be separated from each other on the basis of poverty.

    21) The right to safe neighborhoods, where they are protected by law enforcement, not targeted, profiled, harassed, and brutalized.

    22) The right to equal treatment in criminal justice settings, free from discrimination.

    23) The right to equal representation and participation in democracy through unfettered, unabridged access to the ballot box, accessible polling places, and alternatives to traditional in-person voting, such as early voting and voting by mail.

    Original cosponsors for the resolution include Representatives Karen Bass (CA-37); Joyce Beatty (OH-03); André Carson (IN-07); Kathy Castor (FL-14); Jim Cooper (TN-05); Dwight Evans (PA-03); Sylvia R. Garcia (TX-29); Al Green (TX-09); Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20); Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30); Joseph P. Kennedy, III (MA-04); Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC); Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10); Bobby L. Rush (IL-01); Jan Schakowsky (IL-09); Terri A. Sewell (AL-07); and Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-7).

    The legislation is endorsed by the following organizations: AAUW California; California Association of Food Banks; California Hunger Action Coalition; Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP); Children’s Defense Fund; Children’s HealthWatch; Equal Rights Advocates; First Focus Campaign for Children; Food Research & Action Center (FRAC); Greater Cleveland Food Bank; Greater Hartford Legal Aid; Law Foundation of Silicon Valley; Maine Equal Justice; MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger; Mississippi Center for Justice; National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE); National Lawyers Guild - San Francisco Bay Area Chapter; NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice; New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty; Ohio Association of Foodbanks; Parent Voices CA; San Francisco-Marin Food Bank; Share Our Strength; St. Anthony's Foundation; Western Center on Law & Poverty; Women’s Foundation California; and Young Invincibles.


  • 17 Jul 2020 2:09 PM | Administrator (Administrator)


    On Monday, July 20th, organizations across the nation and in Florida will be participating in a day of action to tell the Senate it must act quickly to pass a COVID-19 relief package that boosts SNAP benefits for struggling households.

    Nationwide, the Food Research and Action Center, Children’s Defense Fund, Coalition on Human Needs, First Focus and many others are supporting this effort and have put out a call to action.

    In Florida, organizations such as United Way, University of Florida, Florida Impact and Bread for the World, are asking Floridians to join with anti-hunger advocates around the country by emailing or calling local Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio between 9am and Noon (EST) on Monday, July 20th.

    If you or your organization would like to send a letter, Bread for the World has put together a template which can be downloaded here.

    To contact your senator, below is a list of names, emails and offices around the state.


  • 10 Jul 2020 3:00 PM | Administrator (Administrator)

    Erica Hall, M.S. CED, MBA, ARM, has an extensive background as a community organizer, advocate, trainer, Board member, and Senior Legal Professional who has worked extensively in urban agriculture and food policy.

    As a Senior Legal Professional, Erica has worked on all aspects of corporate and commercial real estate transactions. While working at NeighborWorks America, a government chartered national non-profit, Erica assisted in the review and oversight of affordable housing programs including Treasury’s Making Homes Affordable (MHA), the Emergency Homeowners Loan Program (EHLP), the National Foreclosure Counseling Mitigation Program (NFMC), Wells Fargo’s LIFT Program and the Stable Communities Initiative, while helping with the design of NeighborWorks America Green Organization program which is setting an example that will lead the affordable housing and community development industry to a more sustainable future. Erica also performed research and assisted in the creation of NeighborWorks’ initial sustainability efforts focused on resource conservation through initiatives related to energy, water and materials, including Energy Star benchmarking; high-efficiency lighting, plumbing, HVAC equipment; green roofs; recycling and sustainable purchasing.

    Erica has also been active in the US Green Building Council (USGBC), American Planning Association, and other environmental, neighborhood revitalization groups throughout the DC area working in youth development, Black Farmers, food insecurity, workforce training, historic preservation, and urban agriculture in DC, VA, MD, NYC, Atlanta and Los Angeles working in youth development, Black Farmers, food insecurity, workforce training, historic preservation, and urban agriculture. She previously chaired a DC non-profit, Healthy Solutions, that worked with Community Gardens, Brownfield Remediation, food insecurity, and urban agriculture. Erica previously served on the Board of Directors of Groundwork Anacostia River DC, a local non-profit that utilizes environmental restoration goals as a vehicle for community development. Erica is also a Senior Fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program, a dynamic network of 900 of the country’s top emerging environmental and social change leaders. Erica was also selected as co-chair of the Host Committee for Greenbuild, the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to Green Building. As co-chair, she worked to connect and introduce the U.S. Green Building Council and Greenbuild to International Real Estate Management (IREM) and other real estate groups. The 2015 Greenbuild Host Committee, on which Erica served, has earned the President’s Volunteer Service Award in 2016.

    She has participated in developing Food Policy Councils in NY, DC, VA, and MD and has been very active in the green building and environmental justice community in the DC area, using her platform to combine leadership and activism. In 2007, she worked on the initial Corner Store project in DC that has since been duplicated around the country. The Corner Store Project began with pilot locations in Southeast Washington DC and was designed to thrive in neighborhoods which had been and continue to be overlooked by traditional supermarkets. Erica volunteered and worked with various sectors of the DC's food system including academia, agriculture, health, hospitality, non-profit, and the public to help pass the Supermarket Tax Exemption Act (DC Law 13-166), which offered grocery stores located in designated Priority Development Areas ten-year waivers on real property taxes, business license fees, personal property taxes, and construction

    material sales and use taxes. All of this work led to President Obama’s 2010 Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI), which initially offered $400 million in funding to develop and equip grocery stores and other healthy food retailers to underserved urban and rural communities.

    In New York City, Erica assisted on the 2009 Food Retail Expansion to Support Health (FRESH) Program to promote the establishment and retention of neighborhood grocery stores in underserved communities throughout the city. Since 2011, she has been a Grant Reviewer for the USDA National Institute of Food & Agriculture's Community Food Projects Competitive Grant Program which funds projects designed to meet the needs of low-income individuals and increase community self-reliance concerning food and nutrition. As a member of the Ad Hoc Committee of the Enoch Davis/St. Pete Youth Farm, Erica helped to define the mission statement for the project, helped guide project direction, while producing some broad actions needed to implement the project. Through this program, youth are empowered to lead urban agriculture projects under community guidance and resources has proven to be a successful strategy in youth, workforce, and neighborhood development.

    Erica is also very active in the International Real Estate Management Florida Chapter 44 by participating in numerous committees, including the National Diversity and Inclusion Committee of Real Estate Management and the Diversity and Inclusion Committee of the American Society of Aging. Erica continues to be very active in the green building and environmental justice community, using her platform to combine leadership and activism, while working hard to foster collaboration between affordable housing, green building and property management.


  • 10 Jul 2020 2:32 PM | Administrator (Administrator)

    Tom Pellizzetti is a connector, innovator and self-proclaimed meat mercenary. He has a background in consumer products and foodservice marketing with large food processors. Tom returned to Florida in 2009 to represent small, authentic food brands into mainstream channels. In 2010, Tom co-founded a Florida grass-fed beef producer and a few years later, co-owned a very small USDA inspected processor in NW Florida. This led Tom into the small farm, local foods movement that is alive and underway here in Florida. Tom joined the Florida Food Policy Council to help promote and develop local food systems into the mainstream. Tom has a BS in Animal Science from UF and an MBA in marketing from Thunderbird School of Business.


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