Alaska Food Policy Council releases food system action plan

HOMER, Alaska (Sept. 12, 2022) — The Alaska Food Policy Council has released the results and food security action plan from a USDA Regional Food System Partnership program grant for Alaska received in 2020.

This two-year process involved local food system leaders in 13 regional nodes around the state, including one in Sitka hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network. The node leaders looked at their local and regional food systems, and how they connect with food systems in other parts of the state. The project also taught the node leaders how to develop and connect the people and companies within their local food systems to strengthen them.

Alaska has major food security issues, with an estimated 90-95 percent of all food coming to the state from somewhere else. One of the long-term goals of this project is to use the information gathered to create a 10-year statewide food security plan.

“This two-year project has engaged communities from around the state, bringing together Alaskans who care deeply about building a better food system,” Alaska Food Policy Council Executive Director Robbi Mixon said. “The resulting food security plan contains actionable ideas that can be implemented by communities in a way that makes sense for their own place-based needs and capacities.”

The three main objectives of this project are to improve the connection and collaboration of local and regional food systems around the state to improve Alaska’s food system; to identify food system assets, barriers, and capacities to help with the connection and collaboration; and to create a statewide food security plan that is informed by the regional nodes representing a variety of locations and stakeholder groups.

The next step is to apply for a USDA Rural Food System Partnership Implementation grant. This will allow state food system leaders to build on this groundwork and improve Alaska’s food security.

More information on the project and a link to the report can be found at https://www.akfoodpolicycouncil.org/blog/2022/9/8/2022-regional-food-system-partnership-project-report-amp-food-security-action-plan-released

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The Alaska Food Policy Council (https://www.akfoodpolicycouncil.org/) is a nonprofit organization whose diverse membership works to engage Alaskans to make positive changes for the state’s food system, and to create a healthier, more prosperous and more secure future for all.

Check out the September 2022 edition of the Sitka Local Foods Network newsletter

The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the September 2022 edition of its monthly newsletter. Feel free to click this link to get a copy.

This month’s newsletter includes short stories about the 2022 Sitka Farmers Market, an update about how you can support the Sitka Local Foods Network by buying a t-shirt or hoodie from our online store, information about our 2022 sponsorship programs, and an invitation to join our board of directors. Each story has links to our website for more information.

You can sign up for future editions of our newsletter by clicking on the newsletter image in the right column of our website and filling in the information. If you received a copy but didn’t want one, there is a link at the bottom of the newsletter so you can unsubscribe. Our intention is to get the word out about upcoming events and not to spam people. We will protect your privacy by not sharing our email list with others. Don’t forget to like us on Facebooklike our Sitka Farmers Market page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter (@SitkaLocalFoods).

Sitka Conservation Society brings back Fish to Schools coho donation drive

The Sitka Conservation Society is excited to bring back its Fish to Schools coho donation drive after a couple-year hiatus due to the pandemic. This year’s drive is in full swing and will run through mid-late September. Thanks to the F/V Mindalina for its recent donation of 50 coho to the program.

To participate, simply tell your processor how many pounds or the number of coho you want to donate when you offload and they will record it. Yelloweye rockfish overage is also welcome. If you are a freezer-troller offloading at the Samson Tug and Barge Dock and would like to donate fish, look for the Fish to Schools tote or coordinate with Kurt Ainslie.

Thank you to all fishermen for their support of the Fish to Schools program year after year, helping increase access to healthy local seafood for youth in Sitka and ensuring the program remains a success.

Contact Kylee Jones at kylee@sitkawild.org or call 907-738-7232 with any questions or for more information.

Celebrate National Farmers Market Week by attending the Sitka Farmers Market on Aug. 13

National Farmers Market Week is Aug. 7-13 this year, so stop by the Sitka Farmers Market to join the celebration.

The Sitka Farmers Market takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 13, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian St.). This is the 15th season of Sitka Farmers Markets.

The annual National Farmers Market Week celebration is the first full week of August, when growing season is peaking around the country.

The number of farmers markets in the country has more than tripled since 1996, growing from 2,410 markets in 1996 to 8,675 in 2016. There has been similar growth in Alaska, going from 13 markets in 2006 to 56 in 2022, and now markets can be found in many Bush communities from Bethel to Thorne Bay. This growth has improved Alaska’s food security while also serving as an incubator for new businesses.

According to the Farmers Market Coalition, farmers markets (click headers for more info) …

  • Preserve America’s rural livelihoods and farmland. Farmers markets provide one of the only low-barrier entry points for beginning farmers, allowing them to start small, test the market, and grow their businesses.
  • Stimulate local economies. Growers selling locally create 13 full-time farm operator jobs per $1 million in revenue earned. Those growers that do not sell locally create three jobs.
  • Increase access to fresh, nutritious food. Several  studies have found lower prices for conventional and organic produce at farmers markets than at supermarkets. Due to this and other factors, 52 percent more SNAP households shop at farmers markets and from direct marketing farmers today than in 2011. The Sitka Farmers Market was the first market in Southeast Alaska to accept SNAP and WIC benefits, and we have a matching program for SNAP and WIC beneficiaries.
  • Support healthy communities. Farmers market vendors educate their shoppers. Four out of five farmers selling at markets discuss farming practices with their customers, and three in five discuss nutrition and how to prepare food.
  • Promote sustainability. Three out of every four farmers selling at farmers markets say they use practices consistent with organic standards.

Check out the July 2022 edition of the Sitka Local Foods Network newsletter

The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the July 2022 edition of its monthly newsletter. Feel free to click this link to get a copy.

This month’s newsletter includes short stories about the upcoming 2022 Sitka Farmers Market, an update about how you can support the Sitka Local Foods Network by buying a t-shirt or hoodie from our online store, information about our 2022 sponsorship programs, and an invitation to join our board of directors. Each story has links to our website for more information.

You can sign up for future editions of our newsletter by clicking on the newsletter image in the right column of our website and filling in the information. If you received a copy but didn’t want one, there is a link at the bottom of the newsletter so you can unsubscribe. Our intention is to get the word out about upcoming events and not to spam people. We will protect your privacy by not sharing our email list with others. Don’t forget to like us on Facebooklike our Sitka Farmers Market page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter (@SitkaLocalFoods).

Check out the June 2022 edition of the Sitka Local Foods Network newsletter

The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the June 2022 edition of its monthly newsletter. Feel free to click this link to get a copy.

This month’s newsletter includes short stories about a special class on how to start a cottage foods business from the Sitka Kitch, a notice that vendor registration for the 2022 Sitka Farmers Market is open, an update about how you can support the Sitka Local Foods Network by buying a t-shirt or hoodie from our online store, information about our 2022 sponsorship programs, and an invitation to join our board of directors. Each story has links to our website for more information.

You can sign up for future editions of our newsletter by clicking on the newsletter image in the right column of our website and filling in the information. If you received a copy but didn’t want one, there is a link at the bottom of the newsletter so you can unsubscribe. Our intention is to get the word out about upcoming events and not to spam people. We will protect your privacy by not sharing our email list with others. Don’t forget to like us on Facebooklike our Sitka Farmers Market page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter (@SitkaLocalFoods).

Check out the May 2022 edition of the Sitka Local Foods Network newsletter

The Sitka Local Foods Network just sent out the May 2022 edition of its monthly newsletter. Feel free to click this link to get a copy.

This month’s newsletter includes short stories about the winners of the fifth annual Sitka Food Business Innovation Contest, a notice that vendor registration for the 2022 Sitka Farmers Market is open, an update about how you can support the Sitka Local Foods Network by buying a t-shirt or hoodie from our online store, information about our 2022 sponsorship programs, and an invitation to join our board of directors. Each story has links to our website for more information.

You can sign up for future editions of our newsletter by clicking on the newsletter image in the right column of our website and filling in the information. If you received a copy but didn’t want one, there is a link at the bottom of the newsletter so you can unsubscribe. Our intention is to get the word out about upcoming events and not to spam people. We will protect your privacy by not sharing our email list with others. Don’t forget to like us on Facebooklike our Sitka Farmers Market page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter (@SitkaLocalFoods).

Alaska Food Policy Council seeks members for its Alaska Food System Network

The Alaska Food Policy Council wants organizations and individuals to please join its Alaska Food System Network map. It only takes a few minutes to set up your profile, then you can find connections.

You can join by clicking this link, https://www.akfoodpolicycouncil.org/regional-food-system-participate

Individuals and organizations may add their own profile to our growing network of state-wide food systems assets. Our mapping goal is to clearly show where our food knowledge, skill sets, and tangible resources (like storage and processing) exist across the state.

This could include work in the food supply chain, education, aid and access, production, harvest, knowledge bearing, and more. By joining the statewide network, with some context about how you work in food, you are contributing to a state-wide directory of assets that will be publicly shared.

Joining the network also helps the Alaska Food Policy Council know who is doing what in the state, so we can better connect people with appropriate resources when we receive an inquiry. 

This is part of an 18-month USDA Regional Food System Partnership planning grant coordinated by the Alaska Food Policy Council. The next step will be part of an implementation grant to take the results of all of of the local/regional asset-mapping sessions and use them to build a 10-year state food security plan.

The Sitka Local Foods Network hosted one of the 12-14 regional nodes in this project, which included an asset-mapping workshop on Feb. 19. In Sitka, we hope to use some of the information and connections gathered in today’s workshop to improve our local food security. We also hope to use the information to possibly update the 2014 Sitka Community Food Assessment Indicators Report, which gave us a lot of baseline planning data that now is nearly a decade old.

ALFA, ASFT to host 2022 Spring Fishermen’s EXPO virtually on March 30

The Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA) and the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust (ASFT) are hosting a Spring Fishermen’s EXPO on Wednesday, March 30, to provide free educational workshops and training to new and experienced local fishermen. During this EXPO all the workshops and presentations will be offered virtually.

The EXPO event will be offered on an online platform so that all Alaskan fishermen and others that are interested are welcome to attend. Tools and links to attend the workshops will be provided prior to the event. 

Commercial and subsistence fishermen of all gear types will have the opportunity to attend free and interactive classes on bathymetry mapping updates; halibut catch sharing plan and fishery policy updates; large shark electronic monitoring project; skipper training for ALFA’s Crewmember Training Program; hear from representatives on Smart Buoys and PredictWind fishing vessel products; Skipper Science plans for 2022; Dangers, Health, and Near Misses AMSEA Round Table; and more.  Presenters include Daniel Joram from Nobeltec, Leann Fay from AMSEA, Keith Fuller postdoctoral researcher with the FAST lab at Alaska Pacific University, Kortney Opshaug (founder and CEO of Blue Ocean Gear), Lindsey Bloom and Hannah-Marie Garcia from the Skipper Science Partnership, Linda Behnken (executive director of ALFA), and others.

Attendees are welcome to participate in as many sessions as they are able. Raffle prizes are available for those that attend sessions. Thank you to Alaska Boats and Permits Inc. and Hames Corporation for their support in sponsoring this event. 

Please reach out to Natalie Sattler at program.director@alfafish.org or 907-738-1286 with any questions. Visit alfafish.org for a full schedule of events and to register. All presentations will provide time for questions.

This series is part of a push by ALFA and ASFT to provide resources and educational opportunities for fishermen, especially those who are just starting out in the industry. “Thanks to the support of our sponsors and ALFA’s membership, we are able to offer these workshops free and open to the public,” ALFA executive director Linda Behnken said.

ALFA is an alliance of small-boat, commercial fishermen that support sustainable fisheries and thriving coastal communities by involving fishermen in research, advocacy and conservation initiatives. 

ASFT is a non-profit dedicated to strengthening fishing communities and marine resources through research, education and economic opportunity.

Agenda released for the Alaska Food Festival and Conference scheduled for March 17-19

HOMER, Alaska (March 10, 2022) — The agenda has been released for the 2022 Alaska Food Festival and Conference, which is going virtual on Thursday through Saturday, March 17-19, this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s theme is “Everybody Eats: Nourishing Our Culture, Our Health, Our Future.”

This year’s agenda includes a variety of presentation topics, including a tribal youth track, a legislative update, the American Indian foods program, seaweed mariculture and wild harvest, sustaining traditional foods with science and technology, navigating the USDA for tribes, the Micro-Grants for Food Security program, and many others. These are just a small portion of the scheduled presentations, and the full agenda can be found at this link, https://whova.com/embedded/event/afpc_202203/?utc_source=ems.

Hosted by the Alaska Food Policy Council (AFPC), the Alaska Food Festival and Conference previously took place in Anchorage in 2014 and 2016, in Fairbanks in 2017, in Homer in 2019, and was virtual in 2020. This year, as in 2020, the conference was scheduled for Anchorage before going virtual due to COVID-19. The event takes place every 18 months.

In addition to the Alaska Food Policy Council, this event is co-sponsored by the Intertribal Agriculture Council and the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) Dietetics and Nutrition Program.

The four focus areas of this year’s conference are: Policy and Education, Production and Harvest, Culture and Community, and Business and Industry.

The goals of the conference and festival are to:

  1. increase awareness of Alaska food issues among the general population;
  2. provide training, resources, and networking opportunities to increase involvement in local food issues by community members and decision makers; and
  3. increase connections and build community between the public, Alaska food businesses, NGOs, governmental entities, tribal entities, and others to support local economic development and innovative solutions.

Past conferences have included presentations on food systems in Alaska, food security/insecurity, traditional foods, farmers markets, agriculture in Alaska, fisheries, food policy, food waste reduction, and more. The event opens with a movie, a tribal youth track for ages 10 through college (https://www.akfoodpolicycouncil.org/2022-festival-conference, scroll down for info), and a pre-conference workshop with Alaska Village Initiatives on working with Alaska Native groups on collaborations (this workshop is free but pre-registration is required by going to this link, https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYlce2trjIqGdPZ9XNt1x53SRm6jd3gQmRe). Other plans include holding an online auction (https://www.32auctions.com/AFPC2022) and a conference online swag shop (https://www.bonfire.com/store/alaska-food-policy-council/).

Before the conference, the movie “Food for the Rest of Us” will be shown at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 17, using Zoom. The screening and post-screening panel discussion are free, but registration is required by going to this link, https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0qdeChrT0tG9DzyKsjJA5NKuE49P3Rpzjb.

“Food for the Rest of Us”, https://www.foodfortherestofus.org/, is a feature film that presents four stories of people living life on their own terms, serving as leaders who are lending their voice to the underdog and leading a revolution to a better world, from the ground up. An Indigenous-owned, youth-run organic farm in Hawai’i, a Black urban grower in Kansas City who runs a land-farm at East High School, a female Kosher butcher in Colorado working with the queer community, and an Inuit community on the Arctic Coast that is adapting to climate change with a community garden in a small geodesic dome. A panel discussion with the director and producer will follow the film.

This year’s confirmed keynote speakers and featured guests include:

  • Janie Simms Hipp, USDA general counsel
  • Eva Dawn Burke, University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Rural and Community Development and The Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy
  • Helga Garcia-Garza, executive director of Agri-Cultura Network and La Cosecha CSA
  • Caroline Cox (director) and Tiffany Ayalik (producer), Film: “Food for the Rest of Us” (special guests)
  • Iris Sutton, Ice Wedge Art and Farm (conference artist)

In addition, the three Alaska Food Hero Awards will be presented during the conference. A list of past Alaska Food Hero Award winners can be found at, https://www.akfoodpolicycouncil.org/akfoodheroes.

Registration costs $40-$150, depending on the package, and you can register at this link, https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2022-alaska-food-festival-conference-tickets-232976558157. You also can purchase an Alaska Food Policy Council membership at that link. Thanks to the generosity of the Intertribal Agriculture Council and the Alaska Farmers Market Association, a limited number of registration fee scholarships are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and you can apply (by March 13) at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSf7U8nZPRg9zyK9TWGDOahsMgT2Cc58tEG4WrPDO64NMxTmrw/viewform.

More details about the 2022 Alaska Food Festival and Conference are available at this link, https://www.akfoodpolicycouncil.org/2022-festival-conference.

For more information about the conference and the Alaska Food Policy Council (https://www.akfoodpolicycouncil.org/), contact Robbi Mixon at (907) 235-4068, Ext. 23, or director@alaskafoodpolicycouncil.org.

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The Alaska Food Policy Council (https://www.akfoodpolicycouncil.org/) is a nonprofit organization whose diverse membership works to engage Alaskans to make positive changes for the state’s food system, and to create a healthier, more prosperous and more secure future for all.

The Intertribal Agriculture Council (https://www.indianag.org/) was founded in 1987 to pursue and promote the conservation, development and use of our agricultural resources for the betterment of our people. Land-based agricultural resources are vital to the economic and social welfare of many Native American and Alaskan Tribes. The harmonies of man, soil, water, air, vegetation and wildlife that collectively make-up the American Indian agriculture community, influence our emotional and spiritual well-being. The IAC has, over the last three decades, become recognized as the most respected voice within the Indian community and government circles on agricultural policies and programs in Indian country.

The University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) Dietetics and Nutrition Program (https://www.uaa.alaska.edu/academics/college-of-health/departments/school-of-allied-health/academics/dietetics-nutrition/) is a statewide education program that meets the growing needs of the dietetics and nutrition industry. This nationally accredited program trains entry-level, registered dietitian nutritionists, and community nutrition and nutrition science professionals throughout Alaska. Using an array of online and campus-based courses, the UAA Dietetics and nutrition program offers a minor in Nutrition, a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics, and a Master of Science in Dietetics.