The Public Policy Institute (PPI) at Western Carolina University will host a public interest meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, July 30 in the Cardinal Room of the Western Carolina University Center, to determine community needs and support for a Far West North Carolina Local Food Policy Council. This new council will focus on planning and advocating for greater food security and stronger food economies in the seven western counties of North Carolina: Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Swain, Macon, Jackson and Haywood. In partnership with MANNA Food Bank, the Southwest Commission Region A, and local governments, the PPI will provide administrative support, research, and policy development for the council. Regional economic development agencies, planning personnel, tourism staff, farmers, processors, market directors, community nonprofit representatives, and food security agency representatives are especially encouraged to attend.
The impetus for this council arose from a forum held at WCU in spring 2012 regarding the causes and consequences of poverty in Western North Carolina. The session emphasized the need for a council such as this one to assist with guiding, coordinating, implementing, and funding food projects in the far west region. The project aims to bring together food providers, distribution networks, policy leaders, food security agencies, and economic advocates to provide vision, guidance and structure for food projects in the target region ranging from sustaining a local food economy to meeting the needs of food-insecure families in Western North Carolina.
Although there are several ways in which this council can be of use to farmers, distributors, and policy leaders in the region, the primary and immediate focus will be on providing food security solutions to families that address both urgent needs and prevention. Other potential areas of long-range consideration for the council will include grantwriting; policy and advocacy; processing and distribution; farm outreach, assistance and system integration; local solutions to food insecurity; funding and administration for food hub projects, gardens, and others; integrative marketing and shared resources; economic and tourism development shared among the region; and others.
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