Words by Madison Wilde
With the controversial GMO labeling bill, food politics has become a part of dinner table discussion. Despite its recent rise in attention, GMO’s are one among many issues being debated in the realm of food politics and the food justice movement. From production to waste disposal and all steps in-between, there are countless variables to consider. One large problem, often ignored simply out of lack of awareness, is the prevalence of food insecurity. In 2014, 3.5 million Floridians experienced food insecurity. Food insecurity is geographically represented in food deserts, or areas with limited access to healthy and affordable food. These deserts are widespread throughout America, and most commonly found in low-income areas. Consciousness of these problems has motivated many to make a change, and has even inspired a Florida Food Policy Council (FLFPC).
The FLFPC is a statewide council aiming to represent, anticipate, and advocate for the food needs of Florida. Their inaugural meeting was held in Ft. Meyers this past April. This Saturday, July 16th, their second meeting will take place at 9:30am in FAMU’s Center for Viticulture and Small Fruit. A continuation of the first meeting, Saturday’s goal is to research local community concerns. Head chair of the FLFPC, Rachel Shapiro, describes the council as being in its infancy stage. The FLFPC is carefully crafting a solid foundation early on by analyzing all regions of Florida. Shapiro explained, “[The FLFPC] wants to have as varied a representation of the entire state as possible…The different areas of the state can be quite different in their needs and strengths, what we’re looking for is overlap.” To accurately identify overlap, future meetings will cover remaining regions—a September gathering is to be held in Orlando and eventually ones in the southeast and northeast.
The meeting on Saturday will be hosted by Rachel Shapiro and Bakari McClendon of Tallahassee’s Uniquely Qualified Consulting + Research LLC. At this meeting, community members will have the chance to contribute their voice to foundational research and learn how to get involved with the council. Shapiro shared that the council wants to make itself, “really grassroots and member driven.” All members have the opportunity to join any of the council’s three committees—organizational development, policy and issues, and communication. Level of involvement with the council is solely up to the individual.
An annual membership is required to attend the event on Saturday, but membership is open to anyone interested as the council aims to represent the population’s rich diversity. Becoming a FLFPC member costs $25, or $10 for students, and can be purchased on the event’s page. The event will be catered by Tallahassee local Chef Shac. This meal, which includes gluten-free and vegan options, will be $10 and must be bought in advance.