Central Louisiana Local Food Working Group Celebrates First Full - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Central Louisiana Local Food Working Group Celebrates First Full Year

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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB News Channel 5) -- Legislative action, workplace guidelines and improved partnerships are just a few examples of what the Central Louisiana Local Food Working Group has accomplished since its inception in June 2013.

The mission of the working group is to engage stakeholders and the community in driving long-term changes to create a healthier community and economy through a vibrant local foods system throughout Central Louisiana.

The working group holds a number of early accomplishments to its name in the quest to carry out its mission. These first-year accomplishments include:

  • Improving connections and awareness of local food opportunities through partnerships with active Eat Local groups
  • Working directly with state legislators to help them extend the sunset date of ACT 330, supporting the purchasing of Louisiana-grown produce by local restaurants and caterers
  • Partnering with regional businesses to draft workplace guidelines that support local food
  • Working with regional grocery stores to improve access to locally-grown produce
  • Drafting a local food municipal ordinance template
  • Hosting a public meeting in August 2013 featuring Dr. Carrie Castille, Associate Commissioner, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry
  • Working with a consultant to develop a three-year roadmap to help guide the working group’s initiatives into the future

The working group has also designed and implemented a set of bylaws and solidified its members, which includes representation from seven different parishes and Eat Local groups. 

“The working group has made tremendous progress in just its first year,” says working group Chair and local farmer Anne Champney. “However our most important accomplishment is creating a foundation for future success.” The working group will continue to meet monthly for the foreseeable future.

The working group is part of the Central Louisiana Local Foods Initiative, which is funded by a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation Challenge Grant and The Rapides Foundation. The initiative aims to strengthen Central Louisiana’s local food economy, while also increasing access to fresh food for all the region’s residents.

“The working group is the force behind the Central Louisiana Local Foods Initiative,” notes John Cotton Dean, CLEDA’s regional food systems planner. “The group will continue to determine what the needs are in the region and how to best address them.”

The working group’s workplan includes four primary focus areas:

  • Improving Local Foods Access
  • Increasing Production of Local Foods
  • Increasing Local Foods Awareness
  • Improving Processing and Distribution

Contact Dean at jdean@cenla.org or call 318.441.3424 if you would like to be involved in any of the above working group focus areas.

“The Central Louisiana Local Food Working Group is an invaluable resource for the region’s local food economy” said Jim Clinton, CLEDA president and CEO. “As the working group gains more traction and continues to make progress, all agripreneurs in Central Louisiana will benefit.”

If you would like more information about the working group or the Central Louisiana Local Foods Initiative, visitfreshcentral.org or contact Dean at 318.441.3424 or by email at jdean@cenla.org.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation is building a healthier Louisiana through community outreach and charitable giving. In addition to the Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana, the Foundation has two signature programs: The Angel Award®, an annual recognition of outstanding Louisiana volunteers who improve the quality of life for at-risk children, and Smart Bodies®, a school-based program to prevent childhood obesity. Blue Cross also contributes nearly $2 million annually to various nonprofit organizations throughout the state that contribute to health, education and the overall quality of life in Louisiana communities. The Foundation is funded solely through Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana.

The Rapides Foundation is a philanthropic organization that develops initiatives and provides grants to organizations that share the Foundation’s mission to improve the health status of Central Louisiana. The Foundation’s service area consists of Allen, Avoyelles, Catahoula, Grant, LaSalle, Natchitoches, Rapides, Vernon and Winn parishes.

 

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