Date: December 8, 2015
St. Louis, MO: Missouri Foundation for Health (MFH) has awarded Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE) a 23-month $120,000 advocacy grant to lead the new St. Louis Food Policy Coalition (STLFPC).
Where food comes from, how it is grown, and the relationship between health and the environment are important concepts to MCE. MCE’s Food and Farm Coordinator Melissa Vatterott is raising awareness about the connections between agriculture, public health, and the environment. As the coordinating agency for the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition, MCE will advocate for and advance policies that will address gaps in the St. Louis region’s capacity to deliver healthy, fresh, sustainable, and accessible local food, with a specific emphasis on targeting communities with limited access to such food. Missouri Foundation for Health’s policy portfolio prioritizes “increasing health equity for all Missourians,” which is something Vatterott anticipates the work of STLFPC will foster.
After the release of MCE’s St. Louis Regional Food Study a year ago, Vatterott conducted outreach to stakeholders for the first four months of 2015, bringing groups together to develop a set of policy initiatives and collaborative projects to address the food system needs of the St. Louis region.
“To effectively advocate for the health, environmental, social justice, and economic needs of the entire St. Louis region, it’s important to include organizations throughout the 100 mile radius of St. Louis,” Vatterott says.
Such a group has existed in St. Louis before, the St. Louis Food Policy Council, which began in 2010 and closed in 2012. The new group formed as a coalition in contrast to the former council in order to emphasize the collaboration of new stakeholders and new priorities, such as emphasizing local production within the food system.
Mary Bolling, Nutrition Program Associate at MU Extension and steering committee member of STLFPC explains, “Supporting our local farmers through STLFPC works to support improved health, lesson the environmental impact, and contribute to the local economy. By eating with the seasons, we are eating foods when they are most flavorful, most abundant, and least expensive. Locally grown food is often tastier and more nutrient dense because it is allowed to ripen longer due to the fact that it doesn't have to travel thousands of miles before arriving at the store.”
For more information, see the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition webpage (www.moenvironment.org/stlfoodpolicy).