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December 2015 Newsletter
Registration is Open!

Food Festival & Conference
February 26-28, 2016

 
Our inaugural festival in November 2014 was a huge success with over 300 guests.  We are looking forward to an even bigger and better event in February 2016! 

Reserve your ticket today!

Are you interested in presenting at our conference?  We would love to have you participate and our application remains open until THIS FRIDAY- click here for more details.

Want to be a vendor or sponsor? Sign up here.
 

Just want to come, listen and eat great food?  Find out how to register here. 

 

On December 1, the AFPC sent Governor Walker a letter outlining ten policies we think could help improve the Alaska food system:
  1. Establish a sub-cabinet on food security.
  2. Keep funding for agricultural research and technical support.
  3. Encourage state agencies to buy more Alaska Grown.
  4. Open state-owned agricultural land to innovative local food producers. 
  5. Support food storage infrastructure in rural communities. 
  6. Restore state support for Farm to School programs. 
  7. Develop a strategy to increase Alaska’s livestock production.
  8. Provide SNAP incentives to encourage participants to buy fresh, healthy and local produce. 
  9. Encourage schools, hospitals, long term care facilities, and other institutions to serve traditional Native foods, when appropriate. 
  10. Make sure that the Food Safety & Sanitation Program has sufficient resources to keep our food safe. 
You can find out more about why we chose these initiatives to highlight on our website

Now we are asking you to write to the Governor as well to reach out to Governor Walker and tell him what you care about - copy our whole letter or use the form we provide to write your own versionSo far the Governor has received 50 letters from concerned Alaskans around the state - add your voice to the chorus! 

And a huge THANK YOU to those of you who have already participated!
Audit of Alaska's Procurement Preference Statute Released
When the Alaska state government purchases fish or agricultural products, it is required to use Alaska Grown products when possible (as long as the Alaska product is no more than 7% more expensive).  Recently, the Division of Legislative Audit (DLA) released a report concluding that the preference is not accomplishing that objective, and recommending five changes that different entities can make to improve use of the procurement.   You can read the full audit including recommendations and responses from the various entities mentioned, here.

One reason the state does not buy more local is that, often, the local product is more than 7% more expensive. But some products are cheaper to buy within Alaska, especially once you factor in shipping costs, and those include green cabbage, carrots, romaine lettuce, and potatoes (see page 20 of the audit). 

However, government entities still don't buy those products local.  One reason is that many contract with third party vendors to do their food purchasing, and those vendors are not required to buy Alaskan. The auditors suggested that the state begin including a preference for Alaska grown in their contracts with these outside vendors, but the Department of Administration raised questions about whether they are allowed to do that under the law.  Representative Tarr is following up to get a legal opinion about whether this is true.

Other departments that received specific recommendations responded concurring with the recommendations and agreeing to take steps to follow them, which is a great step in the right direction.

After the report was released, Rep. Tarr spoke with stakeholders about the audit and is working to get follow-up questions answered  We look forward to reporting further developments to all of you!
Congratulations to the Alaskan recipients of USDA Local Foods, Local Places Grants for 2015!

The Local Foods, Local Places grant program funds projects that help "communities create walkable, healthy, economically vibrant neighborhoods through the development of local food systems." Five Alaska projects were funded for funding in 2015-2016: 
The Alaska Marine Conservation Council   (Community Supported Fisheries food hub project); the Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition  (planning for a food hub in Haines, AK); Cook Inletkeeper (online food hub platform for the southern Kenai Peninsula); Calypso Farm and Ecology Center (Farmers’ Market and Veggie Truck for a low income community in Ester, Alaska) and Homer Farmers Market (education and marketing campaign about local foods targeting low income and at-risk populations throughout the state). 
Your AFPC At Work: Food Hub Workshop
On October 13, the Alaska Food Policy Council (AFPC) and the Alaska Marine Conservation Council (AMCC) co-hosted a workshop on how to launch a food hub. The workshop was facilitated by the Wallace Foundation's Haile Johnston, who runs the Common Market food hub in Philadelphia, and about 31 producers, entrepeneurs, and potential non-profit and government partners attended the workshop.

Right now there are at least four communities in Alaska working on food hubs, or food hub like projects: in Anchorage the AMCC has funding to start a local seafood hub and local stakeholders are actively involved in discussing broader models; in the Kenai Peninsula, the Cook Inletkeeper is working on an online food hub model; Haines recently received a grant to do planning for a hub; and in Fairbanks, farmers are already doing it. Most of these projects were present for the food hub discussion, and we had a vibrant discussion about the possibilities for Alaska.  

The workshop consisted of several modules, including a basic understanding of the value chain, business models, transportation and logistics, working with farmers and producers, marketing, and financial viability. We also spent some time working in groups divided by our region (Anchorage, Interior, Kenai, or off road/rural) to discuss the best model for each type of community, which was valuable. 

 
Based on the feedback we received, the groups enjoyed the conversation but left wanting to continue working and building our ideas. Different communities are in different stages of planning their hubs, and we look forward to catching up on what is going on around the state!

If you are interested in learning more about a particular project, please let email us  and we will tell you who to contact!
 
Support the AFPC's work to improve our food system for the benefit of all Alaskans by choosing the AFPC to receive a small donation when you shop on Amazon this holiday season!
Copyright © *2015* Alaska Food Policy Council, All rights reserved.


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AKFoodPolicyCouncil@list.state.ak.us

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