by Toni Tileva
The Montgomery County Food Council (MCFC) hosted a two-part Transforming Food Systems through Advocacy: Community Leadership in Policy Change series this October, and we were happy to be one of the sponsors. This two-part series aimed to equip nonprofit and community partners with actionable strategies to engage elected officials on key food policy issues at the municipal, county, and state levels.
Session One: Highlighted the role of elected officials in food systems policy change, and included:
- Michael J. Wilson, Director, Maryland Hunger Solutions
- Delegate Julie Palakovich Carr, Maryland House of Delegates, District 17
- Councilmember Craig Rice, Montgomery County Council, District 2
- Mayor Jud Ashman, City of Gaithersburg
Moderated by: Evelyn Kelly, Program Director, Institute for Public Health Innovation
Session Two: Focused on the critical role of community advocates in transforming systems through policy change and featured:
- Patricia Drumming, Executive Director, Rainbow Community Development Center
- Manny Hidalgo, Executive Director, Shepherd’s Table
- Ben Parry, CEO, Compost Crew
Moderated by: Vanessa Pierre, Founder, Homestead Hustle & Healing
Our GM, Mike Houston, offered the following remarks:
TPSS supports the Montgomery County Food Council and their work including policy advocacy and policy education efforts because in 2021 those who hope for a resilient, sustainable and just food system cannot simply wait for progress. We have to get involved and make that progress a reality.
As a cooperative business, the members of TPSS have a democratic say in the operations of the store. We all support our favorite businesses with our dollars, our attention and our time, and more and more my generation and the next demands that those businesses reflect our values.
In the last 12 months, the Co-op has testified before a local Public Safety task force advocating for access to response personnel that do not carry service weapons. We joined sign-on letters of businesses advocating for stricter Federal Clean Energy standards. We wrote letters and made phone calls to support a state bill creating the Maryland Food System Resiliency Council. That bill passed and will help lead to greater coordination and cooperation within our local food system. I have seen positive impact of policy advocacy in our food system at the local, regional and national level and I hope attending today’s event inspires all of you to engage in that work in ways big and small.
Every voice counts, and with the challenges that we face, we need each and every voice. Thank you to today’s speakers, panelists, and moderator for your dedication to making our county and state a great place to live and do business.