INTERSECTIONS: ALIGNING AGRICULTURE, NUTRITION, HEALTH, AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Are you involved in agriculture, nutrition, health, or economic development in your personal or professional life?  Would you be interested in connecting and working with people and organizations throughout our region working on similar projects?  If you answered yes to these questions, you may be interested in an event being hosted on Monday, January 9, 2017 from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm at Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee.  The theme and title of the event is: Intersections: Aligning Agriculture, Nutrition, Health, and Economic Development.  There is still time to register and get involved.  Email gpatrick@asdevelop.org to register.

This event on January 9th is a follow up from the Foodsystems Connectivity Convening hosted October 2015 at Second Harvest.  Five working groups were created last year at the Connectivity Convening: 1. Food Production, Marketing, and Distribution; 2. Food Access; 3. Food and Health Systems; 4. Workforce Development and Education; and 5. Policy and Economic Development.  These working groups were each provided financial support to engage with their group and create and/or implement materials and projects they felt would have an impact in creating healthy agriculturally based systems.  These groups were also encouraged to find leverage points across groups that would facilitate greater outcomes.  The work of these groups continues to build momentum.

Therefore, on January 9th there will again be an opportunity to bring together players that are involved in agriculture, nutrition, health, and economic development in the northeast TN and southwest VA.  During this event, people will discuss opportunities around healthy farms, healthy food, public health, and healthy economies. Lead organizations on the planning team include: Virginia Department of Health, Rural Resources, Appalachian RC&D, East Tennessee State University, East Tennessee Foundation, Rural Support Partners, USDA, and Appalachian Sustainable Development.  Individuals from all sorts of organizations have engaged in these working groups.  We hope to deepen everyone’s impact by connecting organizations and projects to have a more deliberate and collaborative approach to creating a healthy region.

Our region of northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia has opportunities and challenges that can’t be addressed in isolation. They are part of interconnected systems, and demand strategies that build connections between farms, food, health, and economic development. Improving public health relies on healthy food demand and access for consumers; improving access requires training, better information, strategic coordination, and local production; more local production requires a workforce with the skills and resources to farm; and each of these strategies must be supported by responsive policy and economic development strategies. This understanding guides the approach of the Food Systems Connectivity Group. By working thoughtfully at the intersections of these systems across northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia, we aim to build a broad coalition of food and health actors working collectively to improve our region’s communities and economy. Join us on January 9th at Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee!  To register please email gpatrick@asdevelop.org