2010 Central Oregon Needs Assessment
In 2010, a Central Oregon Food Needs Assessment was developed by regional organizations to address hunger and food insecurity, retail sales and distribution of local food, and food production. In the fall, a Food Summit was held with the keynote speaker and author Mark Winne who recommended forming a Food Policy Council.
2012 Central Oregon Food Policy Council
The enthusiasm that grew from the Food Summit and from the already snowballing local food movement resulted in the creation of the Central Oregon Food Policy Council. In general, Food Policy Councils are formal organizations that bring together stakeholders from diverse food-related sectors to examine how the food system is operating and to develop policy recommendations on how to improve it. With the good graces of many wise and strong willed citizens, a strategic plan was developed and a 13-member board was appointed to form the new non-profit organization in 2012. The Board of Directors represents farmers and ranchers, food businesses, hunger relief, public health, land-use, local government, university, and the community-at-large.
Our accomplishments included the publication of the annual Food & Farm Directory, analysis of land-use policies with regards to farming practices in the tri-county region, the hosting of numerous conferences and workshops to educate farmers and retailers supporting local food, and participation in Project Connect where we provided those at-risk or currently homeless fresh food from local farmers. As our place in the community grew so did our focus, which slowly moved away from policy and towards programmatic work.
High Desert Food & Farm Alliance
The new name, High Desert Food & Farm Alliance, was developed to better reflect our work and constituents. The mission and goals were re-defined our new core values include Access, Agriculture and Action. We are a community based food system organization that no longer focuses on policy work; rather the needs of the community in accessing and providing healthy food.
In 2015 we hired our first employee, which was a big step as it meant that we were finally able to increase our capacity to provide services to the region. We now run food access programs including Cooking Matters, Seed to Supper, Food Recovery, and support our farmers and ranchers through a variety of avenues including publishing over 40 farmer profiles, and distributing a 32-page, full color Food & Farm Directory. Our Board of Directors is made up of up to 13 citizen-based volunteers representing various food system sectors and three counties.