Louisiana Food Access Summit set for Nov. 7 in Baton Rouge

BATON ROUGE – Several Louisiana organizations concerned with food production and distribution have planned a Food Access Summit Nov. 7 at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center. The purpose is to promote communication among these various groups.

The summit is from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and will include sessions on developing local food policy councils, initiating farm-to-school programs, and implementing a hunger-free Louisiana plan, according to Annrose Guarino, LSU AgCenter nutritionist and one of the summit organizers.

“We hope to strengthen connections between agriculture and communities and make fresh and nutritious foods available to more people,” Guarino said.

Guest speakers will include Mike Strain, commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry; Bill Ludwig, a U.S. Department of Agriculture regional administrator from Dallas, Texas; Rep. Scott Simon, the Louisiana legislator who sponsored the legislation establishing a state Sustainable Local Food Policy Council; and Paul Coreil, LSU AgCenter vice chancellor.

Guarino said about 300 people across the state are expected to attend, including farmers, nonprofit organizations, policy makers and school officials.

Other topics to be covered include establishing school and community gardens, food stamps and farmers markets, and utilization of local foods in school lunch programs.

More information about the summit and the food policy council legislation is at www.LSUAgCenter.com. Click on Food & Health and then Health. Registration is $26, Guarino said. The link to registration is in the document titled “Louisiana Food Access Summit.”

The other conference coordinators include Cindy Greenstein, executive director of the Louisiana Food Bank Association; Michael Kantor, with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana; and Adrienne R. Rathert, with the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

Other sponsoring organizations include Share Our Strength, the Baton Rouge Mayor’s Office, Big River Economic and Agricultural Development Alliance, FFA, Greater New Orleans Foundation and MarketUmbrella.

The contacts for more information about the conference are Greenstein at 225-308-2038 or cgreenstein@lafba.org, Kantor at 504-729-6351 or mkantor@secondharvest.org, and Guarino at 985-785-4473 or aguarino@agcenter.lsu.edu.

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