In July of 2011, the Henry P. Kendall Foundation launched its new regional food systems program. Since then, we have been actively partnering with the organizations, networks and leaders who are working on rebuilding a healthy food system in New England. The work and thinking of these leaders and other national experts has informed the formulation of a strategy for the Kendall Foundation’s grantmaking.
We are inspired by the New England Food Vision for 2060, articulated by regional thinkers and practitioners and released by Food Solutions New England in 2014. The vision puts a stake in the ground that by the year 2060, 50% of the food eaten here will be produced here, and done so in a way that supports healthy food for all, sustainable farming and fishing and thriving communities. We think there is real value in a shared vision that can serve as motivation and provide a shared direction for our collective efforts.
We look at the region and the food system as a whole, recognizing that many complementary strategies and tactics are required to create lasting change. Our aim is to work collaboratively with grantees, other funders and public and private sector partners toward this vision. We acknowledge that many inspiring examples exist in this region and we seek to complement these efforts in a way that leads to a well-coordinated and connected region.
In 2016, we published our reflections on our first five years and embarked on a strategic review that would inform a new five year strategic plan for 2018-2022. In November of 2017, with key stakeholder guidance, the HPKF board approved an updated 5-year plan with two focus areas, Farm to School, and Regional Movement Building.
Farm to School
Experience has demonstrated the impact of large-scale procurement of more regionally-sourced food by educational institutions. Schools all across the region, large and small, public and private, are pursuing farm to school programs in their dining halls and their curriculum. Moving beyond the trail blazers, HPKF’s goal is to influence colleges, universities, and K-12 districts across New England in ways that result in more regional food on menus, more engaged students, and a new food culture throughout the region.
Regional Movement Building
Creating large-scale change articulated in the New England Food Vision for 2060 requires a dramatic shift in understanding, preferences and culture. Much of the work will take place within each of the six states, but regional leadership will also be required, supported by strong and diverse networks that are aligned with the Vision.
To strengthen the food movement, more people need to see it as their movement. HPKF will focus on supporting efforts aimed at broadening and deepening the public’s understanding of and involvement with food systems change.
As a final note, these two areas of strategic focus are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, school communities represent as much as 30% of the region’s population. As students become active and engaged adults, they will play a key role in shaping the food culture of New England.