Apr 10, 2020

FPAC seeks new Vice Chair


As FPAC's "year" comes to a close, it is time for our annual leadership transition. We are currently looking for a new Vice Chair to replace Marianne Cufone, who becomes Chair in September. Our current and outgoing Chair, Antonio Alonzo, has written a letter to FPAC members and partners asking for a new Vice Chair to step forward, or be nominated. If you are interested in this role, or learning more, please email Elisa Munoz. Thank you Antonio for your service to FPAC these many years!

Dear New Orleans Food Policy Committee,

I’m writing as the outgoing Chair of the Committee. The past year has been huge for me. While serving as Chair, I became the Executive Director of Fund 17 to expand opportunities for under-resourced entrepreneurs. I’ve been able to attend a number of conferences representing FPAC, which has also helped me to secure scholarship opportunities. The network and public policy experience I gained through FPAC has opened new doors for me in other areas of my life.

Outside of FPAC, my work has become highly focused on economic development and policy barriers for entrepreneurs. While Chair, Fund 17 and FPAC produced a report on barriers for food pop-ups and found that close to $1,000 and six permits were needed prior to having one fully permitted pop-up. This is a problem for low-income entrepreneurs and those wishing to test the market prior to investing in business expansion. It is also an example of public policy limiting the cultural expression and food security of our neighborhoods. Compare this to when New Orleans once subsidized food access city-wide through a public market system that was dissolved decades ago and sold to many of the supermarkets we are used to today. After a day in the market, itinerant food vendors would buy the surplus and ensure it was sold at lower cost around the city, including direct visits to homes of the elderly who struggle to transport themselves. The late Mr. Okra was perhaps the one vestige of this tradition we had left, largely due to policy barriers.

With the impact of COVID-19, food access has become a huge priority. Every working group in FPAC has a role to play. The food access working group is on the front lines of ensuring SNAP is available and food banks are stocked. The food recovery working group can expand efforts to capture and redistribute surplus food. The food production working group can make it easier for locals to grow and sell food, as well as direct a new wave of consumers avoiding the grocery to our local food delivery and farms. The food business working group can ensure our businesses have the resources and policy regime necessary to build food businesses and provide affordable, culturally appropriate food to their communities.

While my personal path deepens, FPAC has inspired me to launch a policy research initiative of my own that ultimately seeks to convene the wider business community to advance economic opportunity, through policy, for under-resourced entrepreneurs. My work with FPAC has allowed me to demonstrate my qualifications to potential funders. As I enter the last couple of months as Chair, I look forward to continuing to work in the next year as Chair Emeritus with our new incoming Chair, Marianne Cufone. Marianne has served as FPAC’s Vice-Chair over the past year and is the founder and Executive Director of the Recirculating Farms Coalition. She was instrumental in creating the Office of Urban and Innovative Agriculture in the last Farm Bill and has a vast background in local and national policy. She has been a huge asset to FPAC and instrumental in collaborating with us on grant opportunities.

With that said, it’s time we elect a new Vice-Chair. I am calling on members of FPAC to express their interest in this role. When I put my hat in for Vice-Chair two years ago, it was partly because I was nominated. Please also nominate one or more other potential Vice-Chairs. After the first year, the Vice-Chair will become the Chair.

The term “Chair” refers to the structure of FPAC as a civic advisory body. In addition to this structure, we are finalizing our nonprofit registration status and in the process of building a board. The next Chair and Vice-Chair will be instrumental in helping FPAC to launch its first Board of Directors.

 Very truly yours,

  Antonio

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Our work is made possible by the generous support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Humana Foundation.