If you're looking for the Food Policy Council of San Antonio website, it's at foodpolicysa.org. This blog started out in 2009 to advocate for such an organization in our city, and it was called "San Antonio Food Policy Initiative." When we incorporated FPCSA as a nonprofit but didn't yet have a website built, I changed the word Initiative to Council, and posted (very) occasional updates.
Since this site comes up in searches, and we do have a website and growing public awareness of our workgroups, it's past time to take this blog back to being a place to just share things that I come across, and my own opinions about food and community.
The Food Policy Council of San Antonio had a booth today at the Backyard Basics Expo, sponsored by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and Texas Public Radio--two of our favorite partners in the community. We had good traffic at our table, viewing a slideshow, picking up information, and signing up to volunteer or receive our news updates.
We had our trademark flipchart there for community input. The question was "How would you fix our food system?" Here's what you said...
Shelf life dates are artificially short.
Restaurants and businesses should compost their food waste.
Find a way to get leftovers to people in need.
We need bees! Watch what you use in the garden.
Get rid of processed foods - eat real!
Be a vegetarian??
BAN GMOs NOW (VOTES IIII)
BAN PESTICIDES & HERBICIDES
EAT Your View!
Coffee grounds make good compost and some shops and restaurants will give you theirs!
More Community Gardens in small spaces - everywhere (write/call your City Councilperson)
Reuse graywater for landscapes
Drink tap, not bottled, water (most botled water is bottled tap water)
Ask the Father to bless our land
Learn about the companies that supply our food and their practices
Thank you to everyone who stopped by. We weren't always there, because we were enjoying presentations by Bryan Davis, Molly Keck, keynote speaker Edwin Marty, and more. We had great participation from everyone circulating in the exhibits area, and we look forward to engaging with all our new friends and volunteers.
Thanks to David Rodriguez, Lupe Landeros, Krystal Batteen, Dr. Connie "call me Connie" Sheppard, and others from AgriLife, and to David Martin Davies, Elisa Gonzales, Kellie Fichter and others from TPR for hosting such a great event. And to NEISD's fabulous Agriculture Magnet Program at Madison High School for providing hospitality at your mind-blowing, beautiful, LEED-certified facility.
Members of the Food Policy Council of San Antonio are drawn from
various sectors of the food system, and professions or organizations
that can contribute expertise and help in accomplishing our mission.
There are several categories of membership open. We are soliciting applications through July, or until the positions are filled.
Download the information document and application for yourself, or to
pass along to someone you believe would be a good candidate for
Our Vision: Healthy, fresh, affordable
food, accessible to all, in vibrant local food economy.
Our Mission: The Food Policy Council of San Antonio serves
as a stakeholder forum to support a healthy, sustainable, and just local food
system for people, the environment, their economy and community; gathers and
disseminates information for all who work toward that goal in the San Antonio
area; and advocates for food policy improvements relating to food.
The Food Policy Council of San Antonio (FPCSA) has
opened registration for its second annual food conference, to be held June
12-15, 2013 at the TriPoint Center, Highway 281 N at N. St. Mary’s St. The
event is endorsed by the Mayor’s Fitness Council. Registration is available
online or by mailing a form found at safoodconference.org.
On Wednesday, June 12, a full-day course, “Doing Food
Policy Councils Right,” is offered by Mark Winne. A writer, food activist, and
trainer, Winne has helped to found several food and agriculture policy groups.
Recently he was appointed Senior Advisor to the John Hopkins Center for a
Livable Future. He was keynote speaker at FPCSA’s inaugural conference in 2012,
and has been invited back to present this intensive training for those
interested in starting or working with FPCs. He is author of Closing the Food Gap: Resetting the Table in
the Land of Plenty (Beacon Press, 2008) and Food Rebels, Guerilla Gardeners, and Smart Cookin’ Mamas: Fighting Back
in an Age of Industrial Agriculture (Beacon Press, 2010).
The main conference days are Thursday and Friday,
June 13 and 14 at TriPoint, with three concurrent speaking tracks on Producers, Policy, and Community. Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff will
welcome attendees on Thursday, and Friday opens with a panel discussion on
water and agriculture. Local and
national policy issues, and titles including “A Culinarian’s Perspective on
Healthy Cooking,” “Building Community Through Gardens,” and “Agriculture at the
Missions” will cover aspects of the food system that are not often dealt with
in the same event.
Exhibits by vendors and other nonprofit organizations, poster sessions, silent auction, a book and author table, a networking session, and interactive idea boards will offer opportunities for people to find new information, and spark ideas for action.
Saturday June 15 will have tours and field trips to
various locations, including SicloVerde, an inaugural bike tour of community
gardens in the Green Spaces Alliance network; a farm tour on Highway 90 West,
where participants will visit three farms raising beef and poultry and growing
organic produce; an early agricultural tour of the acequias at Mission San Juan
and a nearby ranch associated with Mission Espada; and a tour of the San
Antonio Food Bank’s garden and programs.
To register, sponsor, or donate a silent auction item, or for more information about the program and events, visit the conference website, safoodconference.org, or email us at email@example.com.
FPCSA’s 2012 conference attracted around 200 people
interested in learning more about how to affect our food system, including
concerned citizens, small farmers, educators, dietitians, food entrepreneurs,
public servants, and elected officials.
The Food Policy Council of San Antonio is a nonprofit
organization dedicated to addressing root causes of an unhealthy food system,
and helping people work for the food environment they want to have. Its vision
is, “Healthy, fresh, affordable food is accessible to all, in a vibrant local
We can all use a refresher course now and then on how some important federal programs started out. When "government" (which, the last time we checked, is of us, by us, and for us) is reviled by so many, it can be very surprising to learn that some programs getting a bad rap today arose from national security and economic development concerns. For example, the National School Lunch Program resulted from the realization during World War II that military readiness was being impacted by malnutrition.
Similarly, in Farming Magazine (the Journal of Northeast Agriculture), we learn from this article on how SNAP helps local farmers that the Food Stamp program (now called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) had its origins even earlier in the 1930s, in an effort to connect hungry city folks, who could not afford to buy food, with farmers with good food to sell. The article not only highlights that historic beginning, but also addresses ways of overcoming barriers to accepting SNAP benefits for some modern-day farmers markets.
Stamps or coupons are no longer used. The benefits are delivered on an electronic card (the Lone Star card, in Texas), which many FM vendors are not equipped to handle. That's one barrier. Another can be the price of the food. Read the article to find out some of the solutions that are available.
The second hour of today's On Point on KSTX (FM 89.1) has a good conversation about measures taken to combat the obesity epidemic. It features Oklahoma City, but touches on many of the initiatives that San Antonio adopted with the same CPPW
grant that started the Food Policy Council.
Apart from the noise about whether the government should or shouldn't tell people what to eat/drink (NYC ban on large sugary drinks for example), Tom's guest made the very good points that (1) processed food has drastically changed in the last several years, in ways that our bodies are not equipped to metabolize, and (2) changing the food environment assists people in "making the healthy choice the easy choice" as we say.
Be honest-doesn't your own consumption often depend on what someone puts in front of you?
More than three years ago, I started this blog (originally called "San Antonio Food Policy Initiative") to share information with my city about the powerful food movement I was discovering at conferences, and to advocate for a food policy council here. Food policy councils are a way for ordinary citizens to come together to address problems in the way our food is grown, distributed and so forth. Food democracy, food citizenship, food sovereignty are all terms associated with this momentum toward a more just and sustainable food system.
Since then, the Food Policy Council of San Antonio has formed, done some great work, and held a two-day conference. I didn't start it myself, but I've gotten to be part of it. Soon we will be a 501c3 with our own website, and that name would have been confused with the real organization that we now have.
I have opened another site that is just me, and it might talk about policy if that's what is on my mind. Or it might just talk about the great taste of kale chips from my garden, or how gorgeous my three red hens look against the green grass.
While waiting for the food policy conference coming up next Thursday and Friday, here are some links to read and listen to, to get you into the mood.
The Express-News SA Life section today features an article on Herff Farm's sustainable "inspiration" garden next to the Cibolo Nature Center in Boerne. Tracy Hobson Lehmann writes about the Nature Center's project to demonstrate a variety of sustainable practices for our climate. These include organic soil-building, growing with compost and mulch, keyhole gardens, drip irrigation, and nontoxic pest control methods.
Also on Saturday, "The Splendid Table," airing on Texas Public Radio, featured an interview with Will Allen about the founding of Growing Power, and his book The Good Food Revolution. Find it here.
Noted food activist Mark Winne was interviewed for this week's environmental program "Living On Earth," for an update on food deserts. Recent reports in the New York Times have questioned accepted knowledge about areas lacking access to healthy, affordable food, and how large a role this plays in personal behavior and health outcomes. LOE had treated this topic before and interviewed Winne, and for this week's show he gives an update on the issue and puts the current controversy into perspective. It's 10 minutes of very worthwhile listening, or you can read the transcript.
Winne will be in San Antonio week after next, as keynote speaker at the Food Policy Council of San Antonio's conference May 10-11. Registration closes soon, if you want to attend. Follow the link.
For the community at large, he is also speaking at St. Mark's Episcopal Church Wednesday evening May 9 at 7 p.m. RSVP to the church office, 210 226-2426 for that. St. Mark's is at 315 East Pecan downtown, and has free parking in the church lot across Jefferson.
Both of Mark Winne's books (Food Rebels, Guerrilla Gardeners and Smart-Cookin' Mamas, and Closing the Food Gap) will be available starting this week at The Twig Book Shop and the St. Mark's Bookstore. He will be signing them at the St. Mark's talk and at the conference.
Mark Winne spent much of his career in Hartford, Connecticut, first working for an anti-hunger agency, and then founding an organization to work on fixing the system that was producing so much inequity in access to healthy, affordable food. From that start, he has become one of our nation's leading voices on the causes of food inequity and the policies that are needed to correct it. His analysis and advocacy have influenced federal policy, and have led to the formation of food policy councils in many communities (including San Antonio). He continues his work these days from New Mexico, writing and traveling frequently for conferences, consulting, and speaking engagements.
Texas Food Policy Roundtable A broadly based group of Texas leaders who develop, coordinate and improve the implementation of food policy to address hunger and promote equitable, sustainable and healthy food in Texas.
Texas Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association "Promoting organic agriculture as a sustainable systems approach in the production of food and fiber – a system that protects human and animal health, and preserves the environment."