The City of Saint Paul announced on June 14, 2010 the formation of a new joint Saint Paul – Ramsey County Food and Nutrition Commission. The Commission is designed to be a forum for public and private stakeholders to assess the operation of local food systems. They will suggest policies, share information and develop strategies to increase access to affordable and nutritious foods. The Commission will create an action plan for a sustainable system that increases production, distribution and consumption of healthy, local food.
The Commission will discuss topics such as hunger, nutrition, food-related illness, community and backyard gardening, farmers markets, culturally-specific food availability, transportation for distributing and obtaining food, food access and security and environmental concerns related to food systems.
According to Saint Paul City Councilmember Russ Stark, “The Food and Nutrition Commission will be a great way to elevate the level of discussion and planning for a strong local food system in the City. Non-profits and community members are doing lots of good work already to improve access to local food and the Commission will help identify ways for the City to support this work.”
The Commission is comprised of fourteen local food and nutrition experts, seven appointed by the City of Saint Paul and seven appointed by Ramsey county. The members appointed by the City of Saint Paul are:
• Metric Giles, an urban gardener and member of the Rondo community;
• Berne Hesse, a union organizer for the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 789.
• Becky Meyer, a community developer focusing on food issues with the East Side Neighborhood Development Company;
• Helene Murray, director of the University of Minnesota’s Institute for Sustainable Agriculture;
• Lynne Rossetto Kasper, host of public radio’s “The Splendid Table,” cooking teacher, and cookbook author;
• Leonard Russo, proprietor of Heartland Restaurant; and
• Hai Truong, proprietor of Ngon Vietnamese Bistro.
The members appointed by Ramsey County are:
• Diane Dodge, founding member of the Minnesota Food and Justice Alliance and Growing Food and Justice;
• Nadja Berneche, an urban farmer and community service learning coordinator for Metropolitan State University;
• Linda Litrell, founding member of the Sustainable Agriculture Study Group at the University of Minnesota;
• Katie Koecher, a scientific relations professional for the University of Minnesota’s Food Science and Nutrition department;
• Seth Kuhl-Stennes, a volunteer with the Minnesota Project’s Fruit of the City program, Celeste’s Dream Community Garden, and Gardening Matters;
• Colleen Schlieper, an urban farmer focusing on vegetable and egg production; and
• Robert Schuneman, Chief Operating Officer for Swanson Meats, Inc.