The Mississippi Food Policy Council (MFPC) is pleased to announce the passage of House Bill 535, a key piece of legislation in the movement to provide Mississippians with access to healthy, farm fresh foods. This bill, which was signed into law by Governor Phil Bryant yesterday, allows local county and municipal governments to donate money to farmers markets.
“The Mississippi Food Policy Council applauds Representative Toby Barker and Governor Bryant for taking another important step in ensuring that all Mississippians have access to healthy, locally grown food,” said Roy Mitchell, chair of the Mississippi Food Policy Council. “The Mississippi Food Policy Council’s focus is to always advocate for food and farm policies that build healthy communities, and this legislation is vital to advancing that mission.”
The bill, sponsored by Representative Toby Barker of Hattiesburg, was written based on several of the recommendations proposed by the Mississippi Food Policy Council during the meetings of the legislatively-created Healthy Foods Advisory Committee in 2011. “With the signing of HB 535, local communities will be more empowered to take ownership of the health of their communities,” said Barker. “I hope and expect that we will see more local certified farmers markets throughout the state. I appreciate the hard work of the MFPC and all the individuals who helped make this law a reality.”
According to the Harvard Law Mississippi Delta Project, in addition to farmers markets increasing access to healthy foods, the markets also keep food dollars in the state. Approximately 1.5 million a year is spent at farmers markets in Mississippi, and the farmers that benefit from these markets in turn support local businesses and keep money in the local economy.
“This is a win-win for Mississippi. Not only does it improve the health of Mississippians, but it also improves our state and local economies,” said Mitchell.
Our next meeting will be held on Friday, April 13, 2012 in Jackson.
The meeting will discuss legal and policy issues facing farmers markets in Mississippi. Special guest Darlene Wolnik will join us. Darlene is a nationally-known expert on local food systems and farmers markets. She works as a consultant for Market Umbrella in New Orleans and serves as President of the Board for the Community Food Security Coalition. We are excited to have Darlene join us!
Here is Darlene’s bio: Darlene Wolnik is a long time consumer community organizer, retail designer and “retail anthropologist”. Since 2001, she has focused on farmers markets and food systems while based in New Orleans LA. She worked for 9.5 years at marketumbrella.org creating and running their direct marketing outlets and designing their ground-breaking marketshare project, which builds resources for public markets everywhere. Since 2011, she has worked as an independent researcher and analyst for market organizations and provides technical assistance to markets and food systems throughout North America. She has also published pieces on New Orleans culture and is working on a tree inventory of the French Quarter. She serves as the Board President of the Community Food Security Coalition.
At this meeting and some of our upcoming meetings, we are excited to have some MFPC members sponsor our meetings by providing lunch. We will also get to hear from some of our members and partners about the work their organizations are doing around food policy in Mississippi.
The MFPC will hold its next public meeting on Friday, January 20, 2012. The meeting will present the MFPC’s policy agenda for the 2012 legislative session, with a focus on encouraging farm to school programs in Mississippi. We will talk about the benefits and barriers to farm to school in Mississippi as well as some programmatic and policy changes that could be beneficial. For more information about proposed legislation that could help promote farm to school, please visit our recent legislative recommendations that were presented to the Legislative Task Force on Healthy Food Access: In Depth Report: Mississippi Farm-to-School Legislative Recommendations
Please join the Mississippi Food Policy Council as it hosts a roundtable discussion featuring Mayor Joel Gill and Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, candidates for Commissioner of Agriculture.
Brooke Smith and Judy Belue will also present on WHY Hunger and Delta Fresh Foods’ vision for an FM/EBT incentive program statewide.
Friday, October 14, 2011
9:30a.m. – 2:00p.m.
MSU Social Science Research Center
153 Mississippi Parkway
Please RSVP to Debbie Smith at email@example.com or call 601-353-0845 by October 11th if you would like to attend this meeting.