Applications are being accepted for the first-ever Louisiana Food Fellows program, a unique opportunity for people who want to take on leadership roles in the local foods movement.

Participants will attend four evening workshops beginning Sept. 17 that will develop their skills and increase their understanding of the local foods system. After completing the training, Louisiana Food Fellows will be qualified to lead local foods movements in their communities, Central Louisiana and beyond.

“This statewide program is a first of its kind in Louisiana. We’re looking for an elite group of people who truly want to make a difference and take on leadership roles,” said John Cotton Dean, Director of Regional Innovation for the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance. “Participants will learn how to turn their motivation into action by gaining the resources needed to help drive local food policy and ultimately increase people’s access to food that is produced and grown locally.”

The Louisiana Food Fellows Program builds upon the momentum of the Central Louisiana Local Foods Initiative, a community effort that aims to strengthen Central Louisiana’s local foods economy while increasing access to fresh foods for all residents of the region. The initiative was created in 2012 with a Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana Grant from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation and matching funding from The Rapides Foundation. Louisiana Food Fellows is being led by CLEDA.

The goal of Louisiana Food Fellows is to build stronger communities through local food. Food Fellows will become connected with existing organizations and councils, and will also be able to develop and lead their own local food movements.

“We are looking for two types of participants: people who are already involved in the movement and who want to expand their knowledge, or people who are interested in local foods and want to become connected with existing organizations,” Dean said. “Class size is limited for this elite group.”

“Louisiana Food Fellows will develop change agents throughout the state, and particularly in Central Louisiana, who will carry the local food movement into the future,” adds CLEDA President and CEO Jim Clinton,

Once selected for the program, participants will attend four, three-hour sessions taught by nationally recognized experts. Workshop topics include an overview of the food system, grassroots organizing, food policy development and next steps.

To apply for this free opportunity, visit FreshCentral.org or contact Dean at 318-441-3424. Applications are due on Sept. 4. The first class begins Thursday, Sept. 17, and will be from 5:30-8:30 p.m. The following three classes will occur on the evenings of October 1, October 15, and October 29. All classes will be held in Alexandria. Louisiana Food Fellows is funded by a philanthropic investment from Keller Enterprises, LLC.