Working for a Healthy and Sustainable National Food NetworkRATIONALE
As part of its mission to promote sustainable, environmentally sound, and economically just agriculture practices, Winrock's Wallace Center works with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Food and Society Initiative to expand the sustainable and community-based food systems (SCBFS) movement. The momentum of SCBFS coupled with powerful trends under way in the market place (in consumer health and policy arenas) have the potential to create significant and lasting change in how America feeds itself.
An important part of this goal involves restoring a healthy food and farming system that provides opportunities for medium-scale farmers. The market for sustainably produced fruits, vegetables, root crops, grains, and livestock is limited only by a reliable supply. The Wallace Center expects that its work with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation will expand the ability of medium-scale farms to access larger and more diverse markets, such as institutional purchasing by hospitals, school districts, universities; retail chains, and restaurant chains. At this scale, sustainable food and farming systems can have widespread impact for a larger number of farmers and furnish healthy and fresh food to more families and school children, benefiting many more urban and rural communities.
The Wallace Center plans to implement strategies that support a more environmentally sound and health-promoting food system that distributes benefits in a more just manner, aiming to bring 10 percent of the food system in alignment with this vision within the next five years. This work will focus on the development of models and better knowledge of market-based change and social enterprise; the creation of a support network for sustainable food and farming systems organizations; convening an expanded set of stakeholders and networking to foster partnerships, collaborations, and greater impact; facilitating engagement with a diversity of funders to expand support for this work; and developing measurable indicators to build the credibility of and a strong business case for SCBFS.
The Wallace Center will investigate business strategies and develop models of food and farming enterprises that support community-based enterprise and market opportunities that return significant benefits to farmers and communities. Specific activities include building a support network of experts and resources that can assist farmers, other entrepreneurs, and organizations in becoming more successful in social enterprise for food and farming systems, and creating an advisory committee with representation from the private sector, foundations, universities, and non-profits to set strategies and goals.
The Wallace Center will provide leadership for the Food and Society Networking Conference, the premier event that builds capacity among organizations serving farmers and communities, introduces innovative strategies and ideas, and links grantees to public and private partners and new sources of support.
For sustainable, community-based models to enjoy widespread use, as well as acceptance by policymakers, we need to deepen our ability to measure impact on communities, on providing a range of ecosystem services, and on improving access to healthy food by all sectors of society. To reach that goal, the Wallace Center will develop a set of indicators to build a stronger case (economic, social, and environmental) for SCBFS, such as refining and articulating what SCBFSs are, testing indicators in several communities and evaluating their effectiveness and value, and determining a national baseline for the current level of food system alignment with SCBFS. We anticipate this work will result in a stronger business and social-impact case for SCBFS.