Home » Events » Policy to Practice: How COVID has Catalyzed Local Food Systems for a Just and Sustainable Future

Policy to Practice: How COVID has Catalyzed Local Food Systems for a Just and Sustainable Future

April 15th, 2021
2:30PM to 3:45PM
Zoom - information to be emailed
Grantmaker, Philanthropic Advisor
Event type:
Best practices
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Base fee:

COVID-19 caused significant and at times disastrous disruption to the food system in the Commonwealth, overwhelming emergency food systems.  The five panelists - all deeply involved in healthy local food - rolled up their sleeves and got creative during COVID.  From farm to family, food entrepreneur to senior center, they tackled the challenges of COVID-19 and catalyzed new solutions to food insecurity while addressing critical issues of economic development, job creation, health disparities and more. Philanthropy can play a significant role in both short-term and longer-term outcomes.  Join us for a unique and timely panel linking innovative programs to the critical need for legislative and regulatory change that will secure a more just, equitable food system for all.  

Zoom information will be sent via email in advance of the session.

Our Moderator and Panelists include:

Ruth Goldman, Consulting Program Officer, Merck Family Fund (moderator)

Ruth’s 30 career spans the environmental, youth development and experiential education fields, both in the philanthropic and non-profit worlds.  Her consulting practice focuses on critical environmental issues including climate change, food systems, green infrastructure, sustainable communities, and the role of urban youth in the emerging green economy.  Ruth is the Consulting Program Officer at the Merck Family Fund for the Urban Agriculture and Youth Leadership program, a position she has held since 2011.  Prior to this, she held contracts with the Barr Foundation and The Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities as well as numerous non-profits.  Ruth holds a BA in Comparative Religion and Education from Dartmouth College and an M.Ed. from the University of Toronto.  In 2014, she was elected to the School Committee in Newton, MA and now serves as Chair.

Jen Faigel, Founder & Executive Director, Commonwealth Kitchen

Jen founded Crop Circle Kitchen in 2009 as Boston’s only non-profit food business incubator.  In 2014, she became Executive Director, and the organization changed its name to Commonwealth Kitchen in 2015. With a background in real estate and economic development, Jen was the lead consultant for the $15 million Pearl project, which is now home to CWK's flagship kitchen operation.



Erin Mcaleer, President & CEO, Project Bread

Erin is the President and CEO of Project Bread. Recently named by the Boston Globe as the 2020 “Bostonian of the Year,'' for her leadership fighting hunger throughout the pandemic, Erin’s background in health and human services and her public policy expertise have informed Project Bread’s person-centered approach to ending food insecurity in Massachusetts both before and during the crisis.


Maria Moreira, Founder & Executive Director, World Farmers

Maria has been mentoring farmers since 1984.  She has started several small businesses and managed her family’s dairy farm for 25 years.  She directed the marketing for the Ethnic Crops and Beginning Farmer programs at UMass for 10 years, and is responsible for helping new farmers sell over $5 million of ethnic produce in the past five years.


Liz Wills O’Gilvie, Chair, Springfield Food Policy Council

Liz serves as the director of the Springfield Food Policy Council and the board chair of the youth driven, urban agriculture organization, Gardening The Community.  Liz was the driving force behind the amendment of Springfield Public School’s Wellness plan that included institutionalizing salad bars in every school, the STEM aligned school garden program and the district’s’ efforts to increase fresh food access in school food through the development of the $22 million Culinary and Nutrition Center and its local procurement policy


Winton Pitcoff, Director, MA Food System Collaborative

Winton is the founding Director of the MA Food System Collaborative and was project manager for the development of the MA Local Food System Plan in 2015.  He is also Coordinator of the MA Maple Producers Association and consults on food and agriculture policy across Massachusetts.



Panelists' Organization Snapshots:

Commonwealth Kitchen is building a new food economy grounded in racial, social and economic justice by strengthening the capacity, connections, and collective power of diverse entrepreneurs to start and grow successful food businesses.  

Project Bread shines a spotlight on the injustice that 1 in 5 households in Massachusetts are currently unable to afford enough to eat –the percentage being even higher for BIPOC individuals – and focuses on connecting people and communities with reliable food resources.  Mission statement: Project Bread connects people and communities in Massachusetts to reliable sources of food while advocating for policies that make food more accessible—so that no one goes hungry.

World Farmers supports small farmers in sustainable agricultural production and marketing practices to connect culturally relevant produce to viable markets through mentoring, training and hands-on assistance, most prominently at the Flats Mentor Farm in Lancaster, MA.  

Springfield Food Policy Council advocates for, designs and works to develop a robust, accessible, affordable and culturally appropriate food system in the City of Springfield with urban agriculture at its’ center. 

The MA Food System Collaborative was created to promote, monitor, and facilitate implementation of the MA Local Food System Action Plan. 

Registration type: 
Normal registration

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