St. Louis Food Policy Coalition Report
by Melissa Vatterott, Food and Farm Coordinator
Mission and Core Values
After several months of outreach, gap analysis, and policy research, the stakeholder group I’ve convened since April 2015 formalized last fall as the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition, or STLFPC. Our mission is to promote a thriving local food system that supports the health, community, environment, and economy of the Greater St. Louis area. We have established seven core values: community; education and empowerment; equity; health and nutrition; sustainability and environmental stewardship; local; and economy. We seek to foster policies and collaborative initiatives that support these core values with organizations and individuals within the one hundred mile radius of St. Louis, which we call the St. Louis Regional Foodshed.
Overview of STLFPC workgroups
Currently, STLFPC has four workgroups: marketing, policy, food hub, and healthy local food access. Individuals with relevant experience and capacity to foster a workgroup’s purpose and agenda are invited to meet with me to learn if there is a way to get involved.
The marketing workgroup assisted me in developing our STLFoodPolicy Twitter account and identifying what kind of content to share through this social media platform. Based on the ideas agreed upon by the workgroup members, I primarily use the Twitter to share local food and farm news articles and upcoming events. We plan to expand our social media presence to Facebook in the coming months. Organizations involved include Rise, EarthDance Farms, Greenhouse Venture, Green Dining Alliance, and Local Harvest Grocery and Catering.
The policy workgroup primarily provides insight on what policy changes would be useful and are needed to increase urban agriculture activities in the City of St. Louis. This workgroup has been supporting the Farm to Table Bill at the state level, creating a framework for public institutions to purchased ten percent of their food products from Missouri farmers by 2019. Last fall, we worked with a team of students in Washington University’s Sustainability Exchange Program, who assisted us in drafting a bill that would allow a greater number and variety of animals in the city in order to support urban agriculture! This workgroup also seeks to support more local policy initiatives around urban agriculture and local food access. Organizations involved include Operation Food Search, Sprouthood, Gateway Greening, University of Missouri Extension in St. Louis City, EarthDance Farms, and Wellnest Solutions.
The food hub workgroup is exploring what infrastructure exists to help farmers in the Foodshed who take care of our natural resources get their products to more markets. We are trying to identify what infrastructure is lacking that we could work to develop with stakeholders in the region. With the help of Washington University’s Sustainability Exchange program, we are working with a team of students to survey farmers and institutional purchasers about each group needs in order to see more local food in our region. Organizations involved include the University of Missouri-Extension Offices in St. Louis City and Jefferson County, Lincoln University Cooperative Extension, Gateway Greening’s City Seeds Farm, Senior Services Plus, Rise, Sprouthood, and Maplewood Richmond Heights’ Seed to Table Educators.
The healthy local food access workgroup seeks to bring stakeholders together who are working in communities with limited healthy food access in different ways to determine how we can work together to see increased access to and consumption of healthy locally grown food. This includes providing resources about vegetable gardening, education about farmers markets that provide dollar-matching of SNAP benefits up to $20/week, and ways to bring local farmers’ products to those communities. Organizations involved include Gateway Greening, Operation Food Search, Mercy Neighborhood Ministry, St. Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice, and the St. Louis MetroMarket.
Our Geographic Scope
To expand STLFPC’s reach and effectiveness, I am continuously striving to build relationships and collaborate with organizations throughout the Foodshed. Organizations currently involved in STLFPC are from the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County, and Jefferson County in Missouri and from Madison County in Illinois. Recently, I have met several people working for organizations in Illinois. This is very exciting, not only because much of the locally-produced food found at St. Louis farmers’ markets comes from Illinois but because, similar to MCE’s water work, we must bring people together regardless of state boundaries to effectively tackle a complex environmental issue. I have been making connections with individuals at the University of Illinois Extension for Madison, Monroe, and St. Clair Counties, the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, the Sierra Club Piasa Palisades Group, the East Side Health District, and John Wood Community College. If you know of an organization outside of the City of St. Louis or St. Louis County that align with two or more of our core values and you believe may be a good fit for STLFPC, please let me know or send that organization my contact information: [email protected] or (314) 727-0600, ext. 11.