• Alaska Food Resource Working Group to hold inaugural meeting Nov. 4 in Anchorage

(The following is a press release from the Alaska Food Policy Council. Sitka Local Foods Network Board President Lisa Sadleir-Hart is a member of the Alaska Food Policy Council’s governing board.)

Alaska Food Resource Working Group to hold inaugural meeting in Anchorage

Statewide call-to-action on food resource development

AlaskaFoodPolicyCouncilLogoANCHORAGE, Alaska (Oct. 31) – Alaskans spend approximately $2.5 billion dollars on food each year, but only an estimated 5 percent of the food Alaskans buy is produced locally. The Alaska Food Resource Working Group (AFRWG) is tasked with changing that statistic and building a strong, resilient statewide food economy. The AFRWG will hold its inaugural meeting from 10 a.m. until noon on Monday, Nov. 4, in Room 602 of the Robert B. Atwood Building, located at 550 West 7th Avenue in Anchorage.

On June 28, 2013, Gov. Sean Parnell signed legislation calling for the creation of the Alaska Food Resource Working Group (AFRWG) under Administrative Order 265, with the goal of building Alaska’s food economy. As a response to House Concurrent Resolution 1, sponsored by Rep. Bill Stoltze, the Governor signed the administrative order to establish a state agency work group focused on recommending policies and measures to increase the purchase and consumption of local wild seafood and farm products.

The AFRWG will be composed of eight (8) state agency commissioners or designees responsible for the development, oversight, and marketing of locally grown and harvested foods. Increasing collaboration between state and local agencies, the University of Alaska, federal agencies, regional corporations, nonprofit organizations, and the Alaska Food Policy Council (AFPC). Danny Consenstein, Alaska Food Policy Council Governing Board Member, will serve as a representative on behalf of the AFPC.

“[AO 265] recognizes the importance to all Alaskans of developing a secure food system that can provide jobs, support healthy communities, and increase food security to feed the hungry and insulate us from potential disruptions along the food supply chain,” said Lisa Sadleir-Hart (Sitka), Governing Board Member of the Alaska Food Policy Council.

The Alaska Food Policy Council (AFPC) is an independent statewide organization with the vision of a healthy, secure food system that feeds all Alaskans. Over 150 representatives from federal and state agencies, tribal entities, university programs, farmers, fisheries, food systems businesses, and health and hunger agencies serve on the AFPC to determine food policy opportunities to ensure a healthy, self-reliant, and prosperous Alaskan food system. A member of the AFPC Governing Board will serve on the AFRWG to represent the broader group of stakeholders on the Alaska Food Policy Council.

“The Alaska Food Policy Council really believes that the group created by this resolution will ultimately help to both bring Alaska’s rich food resources to market and address issues of access to healthy, nutritious, adequate supplies of food for all Alaskans,” declared Mary Sullivan of the Food Bank of Alaska and Alaska Food Policy Council Legislative Workgroup Chair.

By instituting programs and adopting regulations supporting a vibrant food economy in Alaska, the Alaska State Legislature and the Governor are facilitating momentous steps toward a food secure state. HCR1 and Administrative Order 265 demonstrate the commitment of Alaska’s government to the health, safety, welfare, and overall economic and social well-being of Alaska residents.

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The Alaska Food Policy Council is an independent, statewide organization with a vision for a food secure, healthy Alaska. For more information about the Alaska Food Policy Council, please contact Danny Consenstein by phone at (907) 761-7738 or by email at daniel.consenstein@ak.usda.gov.

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• Gov. Parnell signs executive order creating the Alaska Food Resource Working Group

AlaskaFoodPolicyCouncilLogoThe following is a note sent to members of the Alaska Food Policy Council listserv by Diane Peck, MPH, RD, a public health nutritionist with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Obesity Prevention and Control Program. Diane also is one of the lead contacts for the Alaska Food Policy Council.

Last Friday (June 28, 2013), at the Palmer Farmers Market, Gov. Sean Parnell signed Administrative Order No. 265 (http://gov.state.ak.us/admin-orders/265.html) to establish the Alaska Food Resource Working Group (AFRWG) to recommend policies and measures to increase the purchase and consumption of local wild seafood and farm products. This is a bit different than HCR 01. The AFRWG is composed of eight state agency commissioners or their designee. “The AFRWG shall collaborate with the Alaska Food Policy Council . . . and shall invite a member of the AFPC governing board to represent the AFPC at scheduled meetings.”

The goals of the group are:

  • Develop a mission statement that promotes increased use of locally grown and harvested foods within state and local agencies, institutions, and schools;
  • Identify factors that might discourage or prevent locally harvested and produced food from being purchased by federal, state and local agencies, institutions, and schools;
  • Review existing or proposed programs, policies, statutes, and regulations that impact the state’s food system and recommend to policymakers methods to improve coordination and implementation;
  • Identify research needed to support and encourage increased consumption and production of local foods within the state; and
  • Engage with the public to seek additional input on ways to promote the above-listed goals.

Lots of legislators and several commissioners were at the signing.  The governor said this elevates the group to “sub-cabinet” status.

To learn more about the Alaska Food Policy Council, go to its website or like its Facebook page. Sitka Local Foods Network board president Lisa Sadleir-Hart represents Sitka on the Alaska Food Policy Council.

• Alaska Food Policy Council press release about the executive order