Looking ahead to the coming year of local food system transformation!
With the new year comes exciting transitions and initiatives at the Food Council! After celebrating our 10th anniversary and completing a multi-year process of creating our first-ever organizational strategic plan in 2022, we’re energized to launch 2023 with expanded and restructured collaborative initiatives guided by our refreshed mission and vision: building an equitable, resilient and sustainable local food system that is healthy for our community, economy, and environment. Thank you to all our nonprofit, government, business, and community partners whose contributions made the many collective accomplishments of our first decade possible. We are looking forward to continuing this critical work together to transform our local food system over the next decade.
So, what’s new in 2023?
Systems-based Community Convenings: Policy Priority Working Groups and Food Systems Advocacy Call
A key finding of our strategic planning process is that as our work has grown, it has become increasingly siloed. To strengthen the impact of our advocacy, and engage more voices and expertise in this work, the Food Council will more intentionally connect our policy priorities with our convening initiatives by evolving our Food Economy, Food Education, and Environmental Impact Working Groups into three new monthly community convenings:
- TWO Policy Priority Working Groups will connect community partners in monthly convenings, alternating between virtual learning opportunities and in-person site visits, to advance our understanding of issues and pursuit of policy change:
- Increased Local Food Procurement (3rd Week of the Month)
- Launch Meeting Thursday, February 16th, 2023, 10-11:30am via Zoom. Register for the Launch here!
- Equitable & Affordable Land Access for Food Production (1st Week of the Month)
- Launch Meeting Tuesday, March 7th, 9:30-11am: Register here to attend!
- Increased Local Food Procurement (3rd Week of the Month)
- Food Systems Advocacy Community Calls (4th Week of the Month) will highlight current county, state, and federal policy issues and advocacy opportunities, build knowledge on legislative processes at all levels of government, and facilitate connections between elected officials and community members.
- The first call is on Tuesday January 24th from 1-2pm. Register here!
We will continue to connect our food security community partners the 2nd Monday of every month at 1pm in our Food Security Community Call. Don’t miss our next call on Monday February 13th from 1-2:30pm! Register here to attend.
Collaboratives: SNAP Enrollment * Resident & Community Gardening * Sustainability (*NEW!)
A core purpose of the Food Council continues to be facilitating spaces where local and regional partners can connect around shared areas of focus. Our Collaboratives are communities of practice which offer a more grassroots approach to facilitating discussion, resource communication, and best practice sharing to specific areas of our food system. These groups are also important opportunities to identify policy and program challenges and opportunities that will inform our advocacy initiatives. Visit our website to learn more about these network gatherings around specific topics of interest and sign up for the Google group, or join us for an upcoming meeting:
- Resident & Community Gardening: Bringing together those who grow food at home or neighborhood sites as well as community partners who support access to gardening opportunities for County residents and groups semi-monthly.
- Held every other month on the fourth Thursday from 12-1:30pm. Next meeting: February 23rd. Register here!
- Sustainability: Exploring and addressing the intersection of food and climate change and the impact of the food system on our natural resources, and carrying forward the critical network of our Environmental Impact Working Group.
- Held on the first Thursday of every other month from 9:30-11am. Next meeting: February 2nd. Register here!
- SNAP Outreach & Enrollment: Connecting people and organizations directly engaged in food assistance benefits outreach and enrollment work with residents in our community monthly.
- Held on the fourth Tuesday of every month from 2-3p. Next meeting: January 24, 2023. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in joining.
- MoCo Made: The Food Council also coordinates networks for Montgomery County-based food and beverage businesses and food farmers. If eligible to join, please click here to register!
Throughout the year, we will also host Lunch & Learns, happy hours at MoCo Made businesses, service learning events, exclusive tours, and other opportunities to connect with friends and colleagues in our community.
As always, our initiatives will be led and informed in partnership with our Food Council and Board of Directors members, Alumni Circle, and Food Security Community Advisory Board. In addition, our team will continue to lead and engage in statewide and regional systems building efforts, including the Maryland Food System Resiliency Council and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments FARM Committee plus through our newly funded Regional Food Systems Partnership grant from the USDA.
To stay up-to-date with all the exciting opportunities to collaborate, advocate, and connect please:
- Follow us on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & LinkedIn
- Sign-up for any or all of our 3 monthly newsletters: Food Council News, Food Security, and Food Systems Advocacy.
- Visit our website, which is regularly updated with information on Food Council & broader community events, regional food system job postings, grant opportunities, and much more.
We look forward to the critical work ahead this year. Thank you to you, all our community partners, for the expertise, insight, and time you contribute to our collective efforts!