FFN Business Meeting Minutes – May 18, 2016

Business MeetingNorthwest Michigan Food and Farming Network (FFN) Business Meeting
May 18, 2016, 10:30-noon

In Attendance: Amanda Kik of Crosshatch, Brian Bourdages of Tamarack Holdings, Carol Danly of the Food and Farming Network, Elise Crafts of Networks Northwest, Heather Ratliff of Cherry Capital Foods, Juliana Lisuk of SEEDS, Kelly Lively of Cherry Capital Foods, Margaret Sheets of Taste the Local Difference, Meghan McDermott of Groundwork, Mollie Thomas of Crosshatch, Rick Gleason of Farm Bureau, Rod Robinson of Eaton B Goode, Sarah Eichberger of MSU-E (remote), Scott Smith of Local Food Alliance (remote), Sharron May of The May Farm (remote), Stephanie Cumper of FoodCorps, Steve Nance of Oryana, Tasha Lapinski of Baker College-Cadillac & consultant, Tricia Phelps of Taste the Local Difference, Val Stone of Northwest Food Coalition/Goodwill/Salvation Army, Wendy Wieland of MSU-E

TO DO:
⦁ Consider printing FFN business cards and postcards with meeting/action team/website info for use by active members. (carried over)
URGENT: Reach out to Dr. Benishek to let him know you don’t support the new block grant proposal that is included in the House Education and Workforce Committees Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill. If this were to go school meal programs in participating states would lose critical funding. One example of the problem with this proposal is that the block grant would not include federal reimbursement for meals provided to full pay students – which is 6 cents per meal under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. This funding was provided to schools to help offset the new nutrition guidelines that schools follow….which includes more fruit and vegetables.
URGENT: If you need a letter of support from Wendy for a value-added food system grant, request it ASAP. Due to other commitments, Wendy will soon be unavailable to do this.
⦁ Send corner store leads to Tricia for a $2500 Building Healthy Communities grant.
⦁ Steve is looking for an update on retail Double Up Food Bucks.
⦁ Add to the Farmland Resources access to capital list: As Local As Possible and Common Sense Capital. They are both open to agricultural opportunities.

MINUTES:

1) Elise introduced the Networks Northwest 131 corridor economic development project: In Northwest Lower Michigan, communities along the US-131 corridor (Cadillac, Manton, Fife Lake, South Boardman, Kalkaska, Mancelona, Alba, Boyne Falls, Walloon Lake, and Petoskey) share a number of characteristics: many communities along this corridor struggle with issues such as higher poverty rates, unemployment, and lower quality housing stock. At the same time, they are uniquely positioned for high-impact economic development efforts based on the availability of broadband, highway, rail, trails, and outdoor recreation–and agri-business for some communities. Click here for more information.

2) Task force team updates:

Local Food Sales (Tricia) – This team is collaborating with some members on mini-seed grant applications/projects. The new TLD magazine has been published.

Farm to Institution (Kelly) – They will be focusing on three areas (in order of priority). A) Smarter Kitchens and Cafeterias–taking the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement model and applying it to other situations. B) Farm to Institution resource list–who is doing what and how is it funded. C) summit goals.

Agri-business Generation (Rod) – This team has identified four action areas. A) Food safety regulations (Evan). B) Access to capital (Bill). C) Economic development packet (Sharron). D) Infra-structure for agri-business inventory (Scott).

Food Access (Meghan) – They have submitted a mini-seed grant application to produce a hard copy food access resource guide that will include information on pantries, recipes, community gardens, canning tips, etc.

Farmland Resources (Brian) – A Farmlink-like program is needed to match farmers and land owners. The Leelanau Conservancy and the MSU Hort Station have collaborated on a mini-seed grant application to fund work that will better position them to receive a Rotary grant–application to be submitted in the Fall. In addition, as part of his work, Brian is working to develop a regional, private farmland investment group with a triple bottom line for the purpose of protecting land, putting land into conservation easements with tax deduction benefits and a modest income for investors.

3) Champions: The need for three champions came out of our October member survey. They are policy (to be filled), public health (Sarah), and education (Juliana). They will work across all task force teams. In addition, Tasha is our Cadillac champion!

4) Opt-In: Don’t forget to opt-in to receive monthly updates via e-newsletter. The current, large list will be used for special occasions-only after July 1st.

5) Grants: A) The window for FFN mini-seed grant applications closes at noon. As of 10:15 there were 12 applications. B) Crosshatch is applying for a USDA Risk Management Agency grant which mitigates risk for farmers. They are collaborating with Grow Benzie and North Central Michigan College. There may be some funding for the 2017 FFN summit. C) Tricia and Meghan are providing funds to food pantries, schools, healthcare facilities and retailers for healthy food infrastructure and implementation through Building Healthy Communities. Tricia still has $2500 available for a corner store.

6) There were 15 attendees in a room that holds 20 for the Kalkaska screening of In Defense of Food. The President of the Village of Kalkaska was in attendance. Connections were made with farmers and healthcare professionals. The Suttons Bay screening at The Bay Theatre was attended by 92 people. The panel discussion after focused on supporting farmers and local food in the culinary/value-added food scene. The last screening is at Bluestem Farm on May 28 at 5:30 p.m.

7) The VISTA position has been posted. Please refer any good candidates. More info here.

8) Northwestern Michigan College Extended Education is open to developing a local food and farming certification and would like to pilot two courses. Student objectives might include: ability to describe a food system, understand how individual food choices impact what our food system looks like, understand how the kind of food purchased directly impacts quality of life, the community, and the environment, and commitment to make small life changes that positively impact the local food system. Carol, Julie Doyal (NMC EES) and Tricia have brainstormed some course content ideas.

9) 10 Cents a Meal has made it through the house and, thanks to Larry Inman, is in the House appropriations bill–and on the verge of passing. $500,000 would be available to four prosperity regions including northwest Michigan and the Thumb. Having an educational component may part of the scoring system when applying for funding. School systems must respond quickly. Funding would begin in September.

10) The Grand Traverse Foodshed Alliance has been offered the opportunity for kitchen equipment to create an education kitchen in the Innovation Food Hub. This kitchen might be used to educate doctors, for example.

11) The Local Food Alliance potluck tonight (5/18) features a speaker on developing the local food economy. On Thursday morning, there will be a work group meeting on the same topic.

12) Alice Waters will be a featured author at the National Writer Series in April, 2017. This will be at the Traverse City Opera House. There will be panel discussions and other events during that week. Stay tuned.

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