Working together to create a healthier food system
In recent years, the Meyer Memorial Trust, Kaiser Permanente Northwest and the Northwest Health Foundation have made substantial philanthropic investments in food systems work. While the approach and focus of each funder has been unique, we all share a vision of a food system that is healthier, more equitable, sustainable and economically robust. We agreed that we could achieve more of an impact by collaborating with each other and our respective grantees to pursue this vision.
In September 2011, the three organizations submitted a proposal to the national Convergence Partnership (a collaboration of seven national funders and the CDC) that would allow them to work more collaboratively on food systems. This proposal was funded in November 2011. The resulting pooled fund at Northwest Health Foundation allowed the three funders to both expand the communities and constituents engaged in food systems issues, and to convene all of our partners to identify opportunities for collective impact.
On November 13, 2012, the Regional Convergence Partners, in cooperation with the Oregon Public Health Institute convened nearly 100 of their partners to:
1. Identify policy priorities that allow our grantees to achieve our shared vision of a healthier, more equitable, sustainable and economically robust food system, and build support for advocacy on those priorities;
2. Identify new opportunities for collaboration within and across our respective grantee cohorts by expanding networks and building new relationships; and
3. Increase knowledge and understanding of sustainable agriculture and health frameworks and language.
Participants represented a diverse range of sectors, from agriculture to public health, education, local planning officials, food businesses, Tribes, farm workers and anti-hunger advocates. The Regional Convergence Partnership food systems summit proved to be a valuable experience, according to the strong response we received after the event from our partners in the field:
- Participants identified 110 potential policy solutions to improve the food system, prioritized 21 and voted for the top five;
- 95% of participants said that they met someone new with whom they’d like to work in the future;
- 84% learned something new and about policy solutions that they did not know before;
- 80% learned about challenges faced by others working in the food system
- 87% took ideas or resources home that they can use in their work;and
- 72% believed the meeting was very worthwhile of their time (highest score).
We deeply appreciate the 77 people who completed the online survey, including 31 thoughtful pages of open-ended comments about how we can most effectively build a regional movement for a healthy, equitable, sustainable and economically vibrant food system. We have posted a four-page “Key Insights” memo that summarizes the outcomes of the summit, as well as the challenges and potential solutions identified by a diverse range of participants. We have also posted the full list of policy priorities that were identified, the notes from all six breakout sessions, and the quantitative and qualitative results of the post-summit survey.
We look forward to continuing to build a more inclusive and effective movement, and will share our plans to build on the momentum generated at the summit shortly. Convergence_Summit_Key_Insight_Memo_12-6-12.pdf