County Accepts Grant for Food Policy Work

Washtenaw County commissioners have voted to accept a $20,000 capacity-building grant from the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation for work on the Washtenaw food policy council. The action took place at the Aug. 7, 2013 meeting of the county board of commissioners.

The grant will pay for training of food council members, a “foodshed mapping” project, and development of an educational and public outreach effort. The grant will be administered by a staff member of the county’s public health department, who has a seat on the council. The department will provide a $15,571 in-kind match for the grant.

The food policy council was created by the county board on March 21, 2012. Most of its members – including Rabhi – were appointed on June 6, 2012, when the county board also approved the council’s bylaws. [.pdf of food policy council bylaws] The council aims to support local small and mid-sized farmers by fostering policies that encourage local food purchasing and production. Council activities might include: recommending policy changes at the local, state and national levels; providing a forum for discussing food issues; encouraging coordination among different sectors of the local food system; evaluating, educating, and influencing policy; and launching or supporting programs and services that address local food needs.

County board chair Yousef Rabhi, who also serves on the food policy council, had informed the board on March 6, 2013 that the county would be applying for this grant. At that meeting, commissioner Ronnie Peterson had expressed interest in having a broader discussion to develop a process for seeking funds for projects that other commissioners might want to bring forward. That discussion has not yet occurred.

This brief was filed from the boardroom of the county administration building at 220 N. Main St. in Ann Arbor. A more detailed report will follow: [link]