The Executive Board of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Food Policy Council is comprised of knowledgeable, dedicated, and enthusiastic citizens representing varying interests and facets of the food system. Together, we work to identify the issues that must be addressed in order to strengthen our food community. In the summer of 2012, the Executive Board of the Charlotte- Mecklenburg Food Policy Council established an Experts Panel to assist in bringing forward ideas that relate to the purpose and mission of the organization. The Experts' Panel, together with the Executive Board, identified three major priorities:
1) Healthy Food Access
The concern about children’s access to healthy, local food has been voiced by multiple groups from across the county. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Food Policy Council is working to eradicate the current barriers to healthy food access for children and adults through a variety of community initiatives. Most recently, the CMFPC has partnered with Friendship Gardens, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, the Mecklenburg Fruit and Vegetable Coalition, and Mecklenburg Agricultural Extension. Funded by a grant from Burt's Bees, the CMFPC has created a Charlotte School Garden Network and is currently creating a Guide to School Gardens to be shared with schools throughout the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region as part of a project to bring more gardens to Charlotte area schools.
2) Knowledge Sharing and Relationship Building
The foundation of this focus area is to build relationships and to become a resource to City and County staff to help them address food system issues. We research and share models from other communities to help determine best practices and find workable solutions for our area. Fostering these relationships can help ensure that food system issues stay in focus.
An integral part of the CMFPC mission of knowledge sharing and relationship building is our Experts' Panel. The Experts' Panel is a group of individuals with a range of expertise related to the food system in and around the Charlotte area. The panel consists of academics, dieticians, clinicians, entrepreneurs, as well as advocates and representatives from the health department and the local school system. These 20 individuals work in and around Charlotte on a variety of projects related to agriculture, food systems, nutrition education and food access.
3) Public Policy Advocacy - CONNECT Our Future
CONNECT Our Future is a vision in which communities, counties, businesses, educators, non-profits and other organizations work together to grow jobs and the economy, improve quality of life and control the cost of government. The Councils of Government have secured a $4.9 million Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Sustainable Communities Grant to develop a regional growth framework that will help to identify an implementable strategic framework with performance metrics for this vision. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Food Policy Council plays an active role in this grant activity.