By Peter Allison, Executive Director

Posted March 9, 2020

Events, Tools

Innovation is in the Air

Kelp to campus. Nose to tail dining. Turning surplus produce into sustainable products. These were some of the innovative project themes presented at the Boston College gathering on March 3, 2020, showcasing the ten New England Food Vision Prize award winners from 2018 and 2019. The Prize, hosted by the Henry P. Kendall Foundation, is about to launch its third round, providing up to six $250,000 awards “for food service leaders on New England’s college and university campuses to advance their big ideas.”

The gathering gave the teams a chance to share their progress to date - and describe the challenges they have faced - implementing their bold strategies to overcome barriers in the supply chain. It also provided an opportunity for campus food system leaders to think about other project idea and strategies to scale ongoing efforts to create a just and sustainable food system in New England. Tania Taranovski, FINE’s Director of Programs, and I appreciated the opportunity to participate in the day, along with eighty food service directors and staff, campus sustainability and corporate giving officials, and key project partners.  

FINE was asked to set the stage for the day with an update on the New England Food Vision, and to frame the critical issues facing our food system and the farm to institution supply chain in particular. Equity, climate, the dairy crisis, sustainable seafood, tracking and traceability. These are some of the enormous issues that are intertwined in our collective work as we head into this critical decade that will define our food system and society for generations to come. 

We noted that institutions are leading the way - the percent of food that colleges and universities are buying from New England farmers and fishermen is 50% above that of other markets in our region. Institutions are also anchors in our communities, major employers, educators, and service providers; with such great influence they have great opportunity and responsibility to lead. 

We concluded with an invitation from FINE to help campuses develop project ideas, find partners, provide background information, measure progress, and tell stories. And we mean it - call or email us, and sign up for our newsletter, webinars, and listservs. You can access our wealth of reports, metrics, case studies, and more on our website, which will soon feature a searchable database.

We appreciate the important role of the New England Food Vision Prize in generating big ideas and infusing significant resources at this critical time, and we look forward to joining all network partners on the path to transform the food system. 

Read the NEFVP call for Letters of Intent

Join the Informational Webinar on April 15, 2020

Find Resources from FINE and partners (PDF)