Central Louisiana Local Foods Working Group Meeting Scheduled

CLEDAAlexandria, LA, – The recently convened Central Louisiana Local Foods Working Group will be hosting its second meeting on Tuesday, July 9th at 11:00 am. A regional food policy council organized by the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance (CLEDA), the Working Group’s role is to engage Central Louisiana in driving long-term changes to create a healthier region and more vibrant local foods economy. The meeting will take place at CLEDA’s office at 1118 Third Street in downtown Alexandria.

“The Food Policy Council will give structure and stability to our efforts to build a business model for getting fresh local food to the residents of Central Louisiana,” said Jim Clinton, CLEDA president and CEO. “There’s a double-win for Central Louisiana—we will eat better and the region’s economy will be more diversified and vibrant.”

Creating a regional food policy council that works towards improving the access, supply and distribution of locally grown food is one of the five key objectives of the Central Louisiana Local Foods Initiative, a CLEDA project made possible by grants from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation’s Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana grant program and The Rapides Foundation.

The Central Louisiana Local Foods Working Group is comprised of thirteen members representing both the geographic and economic diversity of the region’s local foods economy. These members include:

• Lee Weeks, Rapides Parish

• Paul and Nicole Lyles, Avoyelles Parish

• Amanda Franko-Tobin, Natchitoches Parish

• Kira Davidson, Rapides Parish

• Amanda White, Grant Parish

• Lee Jones, Rapides Parish

• Lori Spangler, Winn Parish

• Clifford Moller, Rapides Parish

• Sondra Redmon, Catahoula Parish

• Randalle Moore, Rapides Parish

• Jayne Wright-Valez, Rapides Parish

• Anne Champney, Vernon Parish

“Across the country, food policy councils are a primary element of vibrant local foods economies,” said John Cotton Dean, CLEDA’s regional food systems planner. “The Central Louisiana Local Foods Working Group will serve as a resource and help guide positive long-term economic change based on local food access and production throughout the region.”

The idea of a regional working group is the result of the Sustainable Local Food Policy Council Report, presented to the Louisiana State Legislature in January of 2012. The report’s first recommendation was the creation of regional food policy task forces.

Since February, a series of “Eat Local” events have been engaging communities throughout nine Central Louisiana parishes. Focusing on local foods production and access, these discussions have created a grassroots, community-based approach for which the Working Group will build upon and be directed by.

To learn more about the Central Louisiana Local Foods Working Group and CLEDA’s Local Foods Initiative, go to www.facebook.com/cenlalocalfoods, or contact John Cotton Dean at 318-441-3424 or jdean@cenla.org.