The public is invited to share ideas during a Listening Session for the Massachusetts Food System Plan on Tuesday, February 3 from 4:00 - 5:30 p.m. in the Campus Center at UMass Amherst. The purpose is to provide the planning team a wide variety of perspectives regarding ways to improve our food system. A statewide plan, incorporating input from stakeholders throughout the Commonwealth, has been in the works since July, 2014 and is scheduled to be ready for review in December 2015.
Do you have ideas about farming, land use, hunger issues, value-added foods, small batch production, local food movement, urban agriculture, farm-to-school or related topics? If so, you may want to attend. A major goal of the plan is to increase the statewide production of food.
The Massachusetts Food System Plan was commissioned by the Massachusetts Food Policy Council, a group created by the Legislature and whose members were appointed by Governor Patrick. The Council is supported by the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture (MDAR). After reviewing proposals from different groups, the Food Policy Council selected the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, in collaboration with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, Franklin Regional Council of Governments, Massachusetts Workforce Alliance and Fertile Ground, who are actively working with constituents across the state. This is the first Western Massachusetts Listening Session.
UMass Amherst has four individuals involved with the planning process. They are: Amanda Kinchla, extension assistant professor of food science; Joe Shoenfeld, associate director at the Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment; Catherine Sands, lecturer in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture and Director of Fertile Ground, and Nancy Cohen, head of the Department of Nutrition.
The results of this planning process may influence future food regulations and policies as well as resource use. This will be the first comprehensive food plan developed in Massachusetts since 1974 and your ideas and thinking are an important part of making it successful. For more information on the planning process, go to: www.mafoodplan.org. More information on the February 3 event is here.