If You Support Shared-Use Kitchens, You May Also Enjoy..

March 16th, 2010 comments 0

This past Friday, the second day of the recent Family Farmed Expo, was the Food Policy Summit. It was a sort of joint event between Family Farmed and the Chicago Food Policy Advisory Council (CFPAC), both great organizations. A late addition to the day’s working groups was a discussion panel titled “Creating Policies that Support and Expand Shared-Use Kitchens”.

If you had trouble finding it, you weren’t alone. The last-minute addition didn’t seem to be well advertised, and starting 30 minutes late didn’t help either (other than perhaps giving people time to find the room). Nonetheless, a good group of about 30 people stopped by for the panel with Kitchen Chicago owner Alexis Leverenz, Zina Murray of Logan Square Kitchen, and Jim Javenkoski, food scientist and local food system advocate.

The meeting covered a lot of ground regarding what’s been happening in the past month and a half since the “Kitchen Chicago incident.” It’s difficult to summarize in a short space, but Martha Bayne posted a good write-up in the Chicago Reader.  Topics ranged in scope: terminology (shared-use, contract, or incubator kitchen?); education and oversight of the health department; strategies for policy change (Is there a status quo? Should shared-use kitchens fit into existing policy, or is there a need for new policy?).  Each of the topics covered could certainly be an entry on its own, but here’s the biggest question: what’s next?

There’s no shortage of passion behind improving food policy at all levels, but there are also a lot of food policy movements going on right now (urban ag, backyard chickens, snout to tail, and farm to fork are just a few getting a lot of attention in the last few days). Throw in support for local economies & jobs, school lunches, and maybe the US obesity rate and its hard to know where to start, or sometimes where to stop in scope. They all inter-relate, and they all need to be addressed.

However, there seems to be a danger of splitting our collective voice and losing some organization.  Deciding what to focus on, and maintaining that focus while figuring out the best path forward will be the challenge.  These discussions are great, but the real work lies ahead.

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