Second Virginia Food Security Summit to Be Held Dec. 5-6 at U.Va.

December 01, 2011

UPDATED Dec. 1: Kathleen Merrigan, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will give the opening talk, "Accomplishments in Advancing America's Food System," on Dec. 5, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., in the Jefferson Scholars Foundation Hall. Media is invited to attend this talk and other summit sessions.

December 1, 2011 — The second Food Security Summit, "Connecting Our Farms, Food, Health and Environment," will be held Dec. 5 and 6 at the University of Virginia. The summit is expected to launch the Virginia Farm-to-Table Plan, the first statewide strategic food security plan.

The event will showcase innovators in sustainable food initiatives and provides a forum for national and state leaders to discuss food trends. Participants hope to develop ideas and actions for increasing access to healthy, nutritious food in Virginia, organizers said.

Farmers, producers, representatives of non-profits, government officials, entrepreneurs, students and concerned citizens are encouraged to attend.

The summit kicks off Dec. 5 with a talk, "Accomplishments in Advancing America's Food System," by Kathleen Merrigan, deputy secretary of the U.S. Agriculture Department, followed by a "crystal ball roundtable" on national food system trends. The session will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in Jefferson Scholars Foundation Hall, 112 Clarke Court.

Roundtable participants are scheduled to include Fred Kirschenmann of Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Ames, Iowa, and Kirschenmann Family Farms, an award-winning organic farm; Ken Meter of Crossroads Resource Center of Minneapolis; Renard Turner of Vanguard Ranch, a sustainable goat and organic produce farm in Gordonsville; and Heidi L. Hertz, obesity prevention coordinator of the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth. The session will be moderated by Tanya Denckla Cobb, associate director of U.Va.'s Institute for Environmental Negotiation.

A reception follows at 7:30 p.m.

Events continue on Dec. 6 at Alumni Hall at 211 Emmet St.

• 9 a.m.: Welcome by Virginia Del. Tony Wilt (R-Broadway)

• 9:25 a.m.: Presentation of the Virginia Statewide Farm to Table Plan by Eric Bendfeldt, community visibility specialist, Virginia Cooperative Extension and founding member and coordinator of the Virginia Food System Council, followed by a workshop about implementing the plan to strengthen local, regional and statewide food systems. Participants will discuss the plan and develop ideas for implementation.

• Noon: Lunch and Roundtable Discussion with Jewel Hairston, dean of the Virginia State University School of Agriculture; Fred Kirschenmann, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture; Ken Meter, Crossroads Resource Center; Spencer Neale, community marketing specialist, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation; and Renard Turner, Vanguard. The session will be moderated by Jeffrey Plank, associate vice president in the U.Va. Office of the Vice President for Research.

• 1:30 p.m.: State of the State: Showcasing Food System Innovation Across Virginia
The session will be moderated by Kim Niewolny of Virginia Tech's Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition.

Presentations will include "Innovation in Schools, Health & Food," with Andrea Early, school nutrition program director, Harrisonburg Public Schools, and "Innovative Lunchroom Design for Improving Youth Choice in Healthy Food," with Dina Sorenson, VMDO Architects, Charlottesville and Buckingham County.

A session devoted to "Innovation in Food Distribution" includes "Innovation in Local Distribution and Institutional Access" with Emily Manley, Local Food Hub, Charlottesville; "Innovation in Virtual Online Distribution," with Molly Harris, LuLus Local Food, Richmond; and "Innovation in Local Food Distribution and Increasing Access," with Mark Lily, founder, Farm to Family, Richmond.

A session on "Innovation in Food Entrepreneurship and Business" includes "Innovation in Niche Business Marketing," with Francis Ngoh, Rock Run Creek Farm, Goldvein; "Innovation in Using Business for Social Justice," with Stephen Kendall, procurement manager, D.C. Central Kitchen: Nutritional Lab in Washington; and "Innovation in Corporate Sourcing from Local Food Suppliers," with Phil Petrilli, Chipotle Mexican Grill's regional director for the Mid-Atlantic region.

• 3:15 p.m.: Closing Remarks: Next Steps for the Farm-to-Table Plan by Eric Bendfeldy and Tanya Denckla Cobb.

A reception will follow.

The registration fee is $55 for all events, $45 for Dec. 6 only, and $15 for Dec. 5 only. Scholarships are available. For information and to register, visit here.

The event is hosted by the University of Virginia, the U.Va. Food Collaborative, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, Virginia Food System Council, Virginia State University School of Agriculture, Virginia Tech, Washington & Lee University and the Piedmont Environmental Council.

Media Contact

Jane Ford

Senior News Officer U.Va. Media Relations