With the passage of the Community Food Security Act, USDA will be authorized
to provide $1 million in grants in Fiscal Year 1996, (ending September 30) to
community food security projects. We are hoping that USDA will release
Requests for Proposals (RFPs) by late spring or early summer. This means that
the program design and planning process should begin now in order to turn in
effective proposals by the summer or fall.
In upcoming months, the Coalition will be acting as an informal clearinghouse
for proposals in two ways. First, we hope to provide USDA with input as to
the needs of community organizations with regards to the RFP process. Second,
we plan to work with community organizations in developing the best possible
To recap the relevant language of the Act, it authorizes a competitive
grants-program that would make " assistance available to support community
food security projects designed to meet the food needs of low income people,
increase the self-reliance of communities in providing for their own food
needs, and promote comprehensive, inclusive, and future-oriented solutions to
local food, farm, and nutrition problems." Preference will be given to
projects that "develop linkages between two or more sectors of the food
system; support the development of entrepreneurial solutions to local food
problems; develop innovative linkages between the for-profit and non food
sectors; or encourage long-term planning activities and multi-system
Organizations interested in participating in the first round of grants for
1996 are requested to contact the Coalition office. We would like to hear
your program ideas as well as ways in which we can be of service to you in
developing your proposals. It is up to all of us to make the national CFS
Program as successful as possible. If you would like a copy of the CFS Act
to assist you in your program planning, feel free to contact our office. CFS
Coalition office: PO Box 209, Venice, CA 90294. 310-822-5410 (Tel and Fax).
FUTURE DIRECTIONS FOR THE COALITION
Kate Fitzgerald, Sustainable Food Center
On February 8, in Philadelphia, a core group of 30 supporters from across the
country met to plan a strategy for the Coalition's activities for the next
eighteen months. This group included representatives from a wide
cross-section of the food system, including anti-hunger, food banking,
sustainable agriculture, environmental, and community development
organizations. Ensconced in the luxurious trappings of the Marriott
Convention Center, graciously provided free of charge by the Public Markets
Conference, the group had the pleasure of reflecting on the past year's
successes- a rare commodity for progressives in 1996.
During the morning session, a packed room with 50 or 60 persons, many of
them working on food and agriculture issues in and around Philadelphia,
participated in a public forum entitled Community Food Security: Past,
Present, and Future. Reports were presented on the concept and politics of
community food security, the status of the Community Food Security Act, and
the accomlishments of the CFS Coalition. Speakers in the second panel that
morning focused on regional food security organizing efforts in New York
City, California, Austin, Los Angeles, and Rochester, NY.
After lunch, the core group returned, rolled up their sleeves and got their
hands dirty in planning for the next year's activities. To briefly describe a
very productive five hours of intensive discussion, the group reached
consensus on the following five goals for the next year and a half:
* Gain the passage and successful implementation of the Community Food
* Provide technical assistance, both generally and related to the CFSA, to
the public on community food security related issues. This goal contemplates
the development of a clearinghouse.
* Gain greater visibility for community food security among the public;
* Support the development of local and regional food security coalitions and
* Develop practical materials including manuals that will allow communities
to analyze their own food systems.
These goals will necessitate an increased level of funding for the Coalition
as well as the greater participation of grassroots groups. A $100,000 budget
for the next 12-18 months was proposed. The group also expressed interest in
holding a national convention in Summer, 1997. This would mean a larger
In other decisions made by the group, it voted to increase the number of
persons on the Steering Committee from six to an unspecified number.
Nominations were to be requested, with the steering committee to choose from
applicants. A task force or committee structure was also adopted which will
actively engage more members in the Coalition's work, and reduce the burden
on the Steering Committee (If you would like to volunteer for a committee,
please contact the Coalition office). The group voted to institute membership
dues as a fundraising mechanism and to increase members' "ownership" and
commitment to the Coalition.
The next six months will be very important as the Community Food Security Act
is translated into a permanent program within USDA and the first round of
grants are made. The Coalition has a solid track record and must make the
most out of this opportunity. Now is the time for Coalition members to take
an active part in building the organization and to help us build real food
security in our communities.
COALITION TO BECOME A MEMBERSHIP ORGANIZATION
At the Community Food Security Coalition's planning meeting in Philadelphia
in early February, attendees voted to make the Coalition a membership
organization. This decision was made in part to obtain a greater involvement
and commitment from the multiple grassroots organizations and individuals who
support the aims of the Coalition, as well as to assist the Coalition in
maintaining its financial viability. A membership committee was formed and
has formulated the following proposal. Please note the differentiation
between voting organizations and non-voting individuals. This proposal aims
to maintain the current structure of the Coalition as a network of other
coalitions and organizations. Three categories are proposed:
* Small Organizations.
This term is loosely defined as a group having less than a $100,000 annual
budget, or with three staff persons or less. The organization itself will
have significant flexibility in determining whether it would like to be
considered a small or large group. It will receive a copy of the newsletter
and have one vote at future national conventions on major policy issues and
steering committee members. Annual dues are set at $35.
* Large Organizations.
Large groups are loosely defined as having more than a $100,000 annual
budget, or having four or more staff. They will receive a copy of the
newsletter as well as have two votes. Annual dues would be $75.
Individuals interested in aiding the Coalition can sign on as supporters but
not as voting members. Supporters will receive the newsletter. Annual dues
would be $25. Dues for low income persons, students, or seniors are
open-ended, to be determined by each individual.
Individuals are encouraged to join existing organizations if they would like
to have a greater voice in the Coalition, or to form a chapter of the
Coalition with a mimumum of four other persons (five persons or more), which
will be considered then as a small organization.
We would like you feedback on this proposal no later than May 15. We will
then revise the proposal in accordance with comments received, and plan to
begin a membership drive shortly thereafter. Please send, fax or e-mail your
comments to the Coalition office at: PO Box 209, Venice, CA 90294.
310-822-5410 (Fax and Tel). email@example.com