Outline of hands around a bowl surrounded by food-related words

The Planning Team for the Rochester Food Policy Council announced the selection of its inaugural members.

This diverse group of individuals will lead efforts to create a healthier and more equitable Rochester food system. The planning team received more than 80 applications from Rochester residents who are passionate about the local food system, and after many interviews, selected the first 10 community members to serve on the Food Policy Council. These members reflect the diversity of Rochester and bring to the table a vast array of knowledge and experience.

The 10 council members include: Jasmine Chastine, Elizabeth Henderson, Mike Henry, Rosa Luciano, Josie McClary, Dr. Celia McIntosh, Nathaniel Mich, Laura Fox O’Sullivan, Ashley Smith, and Luis Zarate. In addition, there are three administrative members of the council from the primary organizing entities: Mike Bulger (Common Ground Health), Elizabeth Murphy (City of Rochester) and Julia Tedesco (Foodlink). Bios for each team member are listed on the council website: www.rocfoodpolicy.org.

“From our first public event at The Little Theatre, to the more than 80 individuals who applied to be members, I’ve been inspired by how many people are committed to creating a healthier and more fair food system,” said Bulger, who is the healthy communities coordinator at Common Ground Health. “I look forward to the Food Policy Council continuing the work of engaging with people and turning community energy into action.”

Food Policy Council members held their initial meeting on Nov. 15, and soon will elect the chair and vice chair of the council. Additional information on public involvement through the creation of subcommittees will be published in the coming months.

This announcement is the culmination of more than two years of collaborative planning and community engagement. The work was funded by the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge, and led by a planning team that comprised Rochester residents and representatives from the City of Rochester, Common Ground Health, and Foodlink. The Planning Team engaged the community through public events, Zoom meetings, online surveys, and outreach through libraries, Neighborhood Service Centers, and local events. Public input and feedback was a crucial component of the work to create the framework for the council and conduct an equitable application process.

“My involvement in the Food Policy Council has been a wonderful and purposeful experience. I have been able to meet and work with other community members to help effect change in my direct neighborhood and the City of Rochester as a whole,” said Candace Cabral, a resident leader and planning team member.

“My hope is for the Food Policy Council to remain sustainable and successful for generations to come; to establish equal, equitable, and affordable access to healthy foods no matter where a person lives; and to give the community hope, courage, and a way to voice our concerns and rally the support we need,” said Gildred Aponte a resident leader and planning team member.