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January-February 2016 Newsletter
Agenda Now Available!

Food Festival & Conference
February 26-28, 2016

This year's speakers include Craig Fleener, Governor Walker's advisor on the Arctic, and Anchorage mayor Ethan Berkowitz.

The rest of our agenda is available on our website and while it is difficult for us to pick highlights, we'll try!

Friday sessions include Amy Pettit of the Alaska Farmland Trust on a new program connecting aspiring farmers with land, Melissa Chlupack of NANA about advances in getting traditional foods into institutions since the Farm Bill made it possible last year, and from local food entrepeneurs Evie Witten, SJ Klein, and Meg Zaletel about their experiences with starting small businesses in Alaska.

On Saturday, we will have workshops on fermenting foods, keeping chickens, growing your own mushrooms and more.  We will also have a conversation about ways Alaskans and Canadians can collaborate to fight issues of food security that face both of us.

And on Sunday we will feature a food tour of Anchorage that includes stops at some of your favorite businesses - a complete schedule will be available soon.

There is still time to become a vendor or sponsor! Sign up here
Register today!

New Resolution Encourages Alaskans to Reduce Food Waste.
Fight food wasteOn Wednesday, Rep. Geran Tarr (D- Anchorage) introduced a resolution "encouraging schools and businesses to reduce, recover and recycle food waste." The resolution will not bind the legislature to any action, but it shows that businesses and schools have the legislature's support and may set the stage for future efforts.   At the press conference announcing the resolution. Rep. Tarr said she is excited to collaborate with organizations around the state to address this issue and looks forward to continuing the conversation over the coming year.

More than 70 billion pounds of food is wasted in the United States every year.  Rep. Tarr explained that this will be "the Alaska version" of the national effort, announced last year by Secretary of Agricultrue Tom Vilsack, to reduce food waste by 50% by the year 2030. 

The Food Bank of Alaska annually recovers 5 million pounds of food that would otherwise be thrown away, but Cara Durr, Senior Manager for Public Engagement and AFPC Governing Board member, said the Food Bank is excited to get access to more of that wasted food.  "We hear from different retailers and farmers that sometimes it's just more expensive to donate the food than to throw it out.  We want to make sure we are making a path to allowing people to easily donate ... When we have so many hungry people - we have 105,000 hungry people in Alaska - we need to be doing all we can to minimize that number."  

Darren Snyder, of the Cooperative Extension Service in Juneau and the AFPC, also talked about a new composting project at Harborview Elementary School in Juneau to compost cafeteria waste.  Sara Truitt of the Southeast Alaska Food Bank and Sarra Khlifi of the Alaska Food Coalition also spoke about their support of the board.

Read the Text of the HCR-18 Resolution here.

Interested in learning more about food waste and composting?  Soil scientist Jodie Anderson will lead a workshop about setting up a home composting system at the AFPC Food Festival on February 27.  Register today!
Your AFPC At Work: The Alaska Food Coalition in Juneau
This week, AFPC Board members Victoria Briggs, Danny Consenstein, Cara Durr, Nick Moe and Darren Snyder all attended the annual meeting of the Alaska Food Coalition ("AFC") in Juneau.  While we were in town, we met with legislators from all over the state to talk about the AFPC's work and invite them to the conference.  Cara, Darren and former AFPC VISTA and current AFC manager Sarra Khlifi all had the opportunity to be there when Geran Tarr announced her new initiative on food waste (see main story). 

The AFC is a statewide group of over 120 non-profit, faith-based and state agencies.  The Alaska Food Coalition’s goals are to support these organizations, to strengthen and coordinate public and private food and nutrition assistance programs, and to educate policy makers about Alaskan food needs.  The two day Annual Meeting gives organizations working on food security across our state a chance to learn from each others' experiences,  share war stories, and most importantly approach the legislature with one voice about hunger issues. This year the AFC focused their efforts on supporting a provision in SB 91 / HB 205 Anti-Recidivism bill that removes a lifetime ban on food stamps for felons convicted of drug-related crimes.  More information on the legislation and the AFC's work can be found in this fact sheet.

Other news:
- The AFPC presented on food issues at the Alaska Public Health Association's Annual Health Summit.

- Also at the the Annual Health Summit, Governing Board member Danny Consenstein received the Alaska Community Service for Health award.  Congratulations Danny!
Congratulations to Palmer on being named a Local Foods, Local Places partner community!
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." Grow Palmer will receive technical assistance through the program to support building a trail system as well as growing edible parks and garden beds in downtown Palmer.  Grow Palmer will also use the funds to foster coordination among organizations working on Palmer's local food economy.  Visit Grow Palmer's Facebook page and website to learn more about their plans for building a stronger, healthier local food system in Palmer. 
Buying your Valentines on Amazon?  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 by using Amazon Smile!
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