As we work to respond to and recover from the public health crisis, the Collaborative is launching a process to help develop recommendations for the local food system and shape our priorities for the future.
The COVID-19 outbreak and the responses implemented to mitigate its further spread have altered every part of Massachusetts’ local food system. Farmers, fishers, retailers, processors, restaurants, schools, emergency food agencies, and other businesses and institutions have had to transform the way they operate. Every household has had to adapt as well, as access to food has become limited and erratic, particularly for those already struggling with food insecurity. Each action taken to address the crisis has had ripple effects that affect the operation and functionality of the food system. Careful consideration is required to address how the local food system functions now, and how we’d like it to function in the future.
We believe that a resilient, equitable, sustainable local food system is critical to our Commonwealth’s recovery from this crisis. This means building on the strengths of our farmers, fishers, food processors, stores, restaurants, and other links in the food chain. It also means thoughtfully examining the systemic inequities that have always existed in a system based on colonization and slavery, as well as the gaps and challenges that have been exacerbated by this crisis. Our goal is to build and support a local food system dedicated to meeting the needs of everyone in Massachusetts.
For food producers, retailers, distributors, eaters, and all other food system stakeholders to be able to contribute to and benefit from the local food system, public policy and investment needs to support this rebuilding process.
The MA Food System Collaborative is facilitating a process to gather input, generate systems change and policy recommendations, and advocate for those recommendations to the legislature and governor. We are working with local networks around Massachusetts to convene online discussions and meetings about how we collectively want the local food system to function as we emerge from this crisis, what the obstacles are to achieving those goals, and how we can overcome those obstacles. This is an opportunity to capture the success stories of the tremendous local work that has emerged, identify where there are gaps, and determine what resources are needed to fill those gaps and better integrate all of our work.
Participants need not be food system ‘experts’ or policy advocates, just aware of the issues facing their communities and interested in discussing how to shape the local food system to best serve the entire Commonwealth. The conversations will be co-led by the Collaborative and local networks of organizations that represent food system stakeholders. If you’re interested in learning more, contact Winton Pitcoff. We hope you’ll join us!