The New England State Food System Planners Partnership, a network of food system leaders from all six New England states, has launched the “New England Feeding New England: Cultivating A Reliable Food Supply” project. The project will bring together organizations, businesses, and state agencies working to build a more sustainable food system from around New England to develop a plan to strengthen the viability and resilience of the region’s food economy. The planning process will explore policy and investment needs, with a goal of increasing the amount of food that is both produced and consumed in New England from 10 percent to 35 percent in the next 15 years.
New England plays an important role in, and is reliant upon, the global food system. But in the face of uncertainties, whether because of climate change or the sudden disruptions of a global pandemic, the ability to produce food in the region and provide food to New England residents has become more critical than ever. The region will need more resilient and reliable food supply chains that reduce the risk of food insecurity, allow it to navigate disruptions, and centers the voices and needs of the most marginalized communities who are particularly vulnerable due to systemic burdens.
“We are going to be working to set milestones for local food production, harvesting and processing, and distribution infrastructure that we can achieve throughout New England,” says Ellen Kahler, executive director of Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund which administers the Vermont Farm to Plate Network, a primary participant in the project. “We’ve seen how effective setting targets can be in the clean energy sector. We’d like to build out something similar in the region in the farm, food and fisheries sector. This project will be a big step toward building a resilient future in New England.”
The “New England Feeding New England: Cultivating A Reliable Food Supply” project will help decision-makers in New England make a significant impact in supporting increased food production and ensuring food access for all residents. These needs and interests will be identified through a collaborative process involving state decision makers, local food producers, and community-based food security and food justice organizations that will launch in 2021.
“This project is so important,” said Amanda Beal, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. “Each state has a unique role to play in ensuring that New England can feed its residents in the event of disruptions to its food supply chain.”