In 2012, a group of regional thought-leaders articulated that while extraordinary work was being done to address components of the Chesapeake Bay food system, it was often siloed, with little to no interaction, resulting in inefficiencies & slow progress toward sustainability & equity.
They agreed that a holistic approach is required to effect lasting transformation. These thought-leaders conceived of a regional network to provide a framework for connection, alignment, & collaborative action across the foodshed, based on the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The idea for the Chesapeake Foodshed Network (CFN) was born.
After securing funds, Network management, & initial visioning, the CFN hosted the first annual Chesapeake Region Food System Summit in 2016. Over 100 representatives from Washington, D.C. & 6 Chesapeake Bay states, from across food system sectors gathered to talk about challenges facing the region’s food system, consider a regional vision, & review preliminary findings of an assessment of existing food system work conducted by Arabella Advisors.
Findings from the 2016 Chesapeake Region Food System Summit indicated:
- Strong readiness for action & watershed-scale collaboration
- Readiness to move forward a food system vision centered on equity, inclusion, & the region’s cultural identity
- Resounding interest & enthusiasm for the following food system focus areas:
- Equity & Inclusion
- Food Waste & Recovery
- Farm to Institution
- with additional cross-cutting interest in Workforce Development & Food Policy
These focus areas have become the current CFN Priority Areas & form the basis for Work Groups, Action Teams, & other regional initiatives.
“Our theory is that a regional vision that is broad, inclusive, and ambitious will help to coalesce the extraordinary work happening in little pockets around our region, align much needed resources, and accelerate progress towards a more just, sustainable, and healthy food system.”
The Good Food For All report identifies cross-cutting opportunities that support Summit findings:
- Addressing structural barriers to creating an equitable food system
- Strengthening advocacy capacity of food system stakeholders
- Improving value chain infrastructure & regional coordination of food systems
- Leveraging opportunities to improve public health by engaging schools & health care organizations in regional food initiatives
- Opening mainstream & institutional markets