Introducing OCFSN’s New Member Services Coordinator

This is Lauren Johnson, your new Member Services Coordinator. I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with some of you in the past, and I’m so excited to be back in Oregon as OCFSN’s RARE Americorps.

Some of you may remember me from the conversations I led with several of the working groups last year. We talked about how public policy could help them further their goals as a working group. I also attended this past year’s Convening to share some of what I learned during those conversations.

Here’s a some more about me: I got a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, but my heart was always with food and farming, so I often explored those themes in my research. After college, I spent the winter farming in Costa Rica, and then came to Oregon for a RARE (Resource Assistance for Rural Environments) Americorps service position in Wallowa County in 2014. My job was to engage with different facets of the County’s local food system, from health care to farmers markets to schools to community gardening programs. I loved it. During that year, I had the opportunity to attend OCFSN’s first annual convening. I remember feeling so energized being surrounded by all of these incredible people and organizations working at the forefront of community food systems development. Not only were they implementing what was then fairly new and innovative programming to support community food systems, but they were also engaged in a difficult conversation about how to make that work more impactful. After another year of traveling in India, Nepal, the Netherlands, and Spain, I earned my graduate degree in Environmental Studies at the University of Montana and focused on food systems policy.

I chose to come back to Oregon to take the Member Services Coordinator position because I love interacting with this group of people. You do incredible work, and I’m so excited to support you.

Have a very happy fall,

Lauren Johnson
OCFSN Member Services Coordinator
[email protected]

Five Lessons for Communicating about Food Systems

Over the past year, the Oregon Community Food Systems Network has been working with Full Focus Communications on how to communicate about complex concepts (food systems work and collaborative networks) in a simple and compelling manner.

Full Focus Communications also conducted trainings for OCFSN members and local community stakeholders in the Portland Metro area, North East Oregon, and Southern Oregon.

Here are a few key lessons from those trainings.

Lesson 1: Start with purpose.

Effective messaging comes when an organization has clarity and unity around its purpose—the reason it exists. As you create or adopt messages for your organization, return to purpose — or as the Full Focus team says, “know the why.” Tell your audience why you commit to the work, how you go about doing the work, and what your programs or products are, in that order. Get specific and be inspiring.

As an example: Oregon Food Bank is motivated by the belief that all people deserve reliable access to healthy food (the why). Staff are addressing short term needs while building long-term resilience (the how). In practice, this looks like supplying food pantries, teaching gardening and cooking skill-building classes, advocating for fair policies, and organizing community food systems (the what).

What are the “why,” “how,” and “what” for your organization? Get clear on what drives your work, and consider that a brief, direct statement will be more powerful than a longer, overly detailed one.

Lesson 2: Identify your target audience.

Are you talking to long-time community members? Policy-makers? Business leaders? Your kids?

Your audience’s values and interests should determine the content and emotion of your messaging.

As an example, Rogue Farm Corps works both with new and retiring farmers, and applies distinct messaging strategies focused on their separate circumstances, needs and motivations.

Consider your specific audience, the message that will best reach them, the channels you will use to engage them (events? emails? personal contacts?), and then devise a strategy. Depending on your target audience, both the content of your message and the way you deliver it may significantly vary.

Lesson 3: Evoke feeling and emotions.

Messages that pull on heartstrings move people to action. People may not hear appeals to logic and practicality without a personal connection or an emotional response to your issues. So speak to the values and aspirations of your audience members. Perhaps your audience wants to raise children in the region and ensure their family legacy. Use sensory, descriptive language so that your audience can easily picture the outcome you suggest.

Be as specific as possible and refrain from using jargon.  In particular, use phrases like “food system” sparingly. Try more descriptive language like “all the people who grow, sell, prepare and eat food.” It’s longer, but also easier to understand. Jargon may be appropriate if you are communicating with people in the nonprofit or academic fields, and even then, ensure you have a common understanding.

Lesson 4: Empathize with your audience.

Try to understand the perspective of your audience, and any challenges or conflicts they may experience. Imagine receiving this message yourself. What would stop you from responding?

If your audience consists of time-strapped parents you are hoping will volunteer for a program or event, how can you streamline your message so it’s immediately clear what you are asking and make it as easy as possible for them to plug in?Extend this empathy beyond your communications into the actual ask as well.

Lesson 5: Focus on solutions.

Describing the problems you face reinforces feelings of powerlessness. Full Focus found that people agree on problems and values, but may not think change is possible. Focus on solutions so that they are inspired to join your cause. One solution that Full Focus highlights: a resilient, diverse network.

OCFSN organizations target different food systems issues, operate different programs, work in different sectors, and live in different regions. What members have in common is a dedication to community resilience, connection and stewardship.

Take time to learn more about other OCFSN members and the efforts they are leading around the state. Be curious about what audiences and messages you may have in common. Profiles and contact information for members are posted to the OCFSN website. OCFSN members are more effective when we recognize and support each other.

To support OCFSN, the Full Focus team generated a set of resources for OCFSN members, including a Guiding Framework for OCFSN communications, and OCFSN messaging platform with suggestions for talking about the network, and a Food Systems messaging platform for talking about farm and food issues. These documents can be found in the Member Resources page.

Community Food Systems at the Legislature: OCFSN member reports from the 2017 legislative session

Anya Moucha and the OCFSN Policy Working Group

For some OCFSN members, policy and advocacy are at the heart of what they do. For others, it can be hard to know where to start. To help the rest of us learn what this work looks like, we asked four OCFSN members to share their experience at the Oregon Legislature this year: Nellie McAdams, Rogue Farm Corps; Megan Kemple, Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Network; Ivan Maluski, Friends of Family Farmers; and Phillip Kennedy-Wong, Oregon Food Bank.

Were you active at the Legislature this session? Share your experience.  

Nellie McAdams, Rogue Farm Corps

From her start as a legislative assistant, Nellie McAdams has been active at the state legislature since 2008. Now, in her role as Rogue Farm Corps’ Farm Preservation Program Director, McAdams helps the organization advocate for policies that promote farmland succession and access by beginning farmers, and preserve farmland for future generations.

In this last session, McAdams primarily worked on HB 3249, also known as the Oregon Agricultural Heritage Program. OAHP funds farm succession, a study of Oregon’s estate tax, and voluntary conservation programs that help with farm succession, like working lands easements. Similar bills had been in the works for six years. The current version was developed by diverse stakeholders over the last two years and was vetted through seven listening sessions around the state.

Ultimately, the program received nearly $200,000 to establish the program’s commission and rules, but unfortunately it was not allotted enough funding for project implementation. Supporters will be looking for this funding in future legislative sessions.

McAdams also worked with fellow OCFSN member organization 1,000 Friends of Oregon to oppose two bills that promised to erode land use policies in Oregon: SB 432 and SB 644. While SB 432 died, SB 644 passed, allowing mining as an outright use on farmland in Eastern Oregon counties.

Stakeholders pose in front of a tractor in support of the Oregon Agricultural Heritage Program.
OAHP Lobby Day in June 2017. Photo courtesy of Nellie McAdams.

“Oregon currently has a model land use system, and we need to be diligent to prevent it from being weakened. 1,000 Friends of Oregon serves a critical role as the state’s leading advocate for this program” noted McAdams.

But McAdams pointed out that the work isn’t over. “The programs we create are only as good as the outcomes we can demonstrate to the legislature in the next session. We need to continue to make the case for the money to be allocated to these programs in future sessions.”

The legislature can be overwhelming, and knowing what bills to track can be time consuming, but as McAdams noted “the beauty of a network is that everyone plays a different role. There are many ways that organizations can support legislation, from social media to submitting testimony.”

Megan Kemple, Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Network

The Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Network (OFSSGN) has been involved in advocating for state legislative policy since 2007. Megan Kemple, the Director of OFSSGN, noted that this year required extra involvement from the OFSSGN because the organization took the lead for most of the session this year, a role that Upstream Public Health has played in the past. The OFSSGN’s priority was to pass and maintain funding for Oregon’s Farm to School Bill (HB 2038).

Funding for the bill was unclear for most of the session. In the last days of the session, the bill passed both the House and Senate unanimously with full funding!

The bill allocates $4.5 million (the same amount as last session) for schools to purchase Oregon grown and processed foods and for food, agriculture, and garden based education. The intent of the program is to increase school districts’ purchases of Oregon grown and processed products, and so this round, the bill was strengthened with an amendment which does not allow schools to use these grant funds to purchase products they were purchasing prior to participating in the grant program, with some exceptions.

“The legislature heard from us loud and clear, with personal stories from all over the state, that this program is valued by Oregonians and makes a difference for our kids, farmers and communities!” said Kemple. “Support from our partner organizations and stakeholders was critical.”

Kemple will now begin working on supporting the Oregon Department of Education with implementing the policy, which has some new rules. She believes it’s important that the legislature continues to fund the Farm to School Grant Program into the future.

Ivan Maluski, Friends of Family Farmers

Each legislative session, Friends of Family Farmers (FoFF) tracks or works on numerous farm and food related bills. This session, some of the group’s priority bills were successful, while others were met with mixed results.

A bill to allow on-farm production and sales of hard cider and new agritourism opportunities on farms with at least 15 acres of apple or pear orchards (SB 677), was passed into law. And HB 3116, a bill to allow the farm-direct sales of ‘ungraded’ eggs or under consignment at farmers markets as long as they are properly labeled was also passed into law.

Two students hold up a sign in support of HB 2038.
‘Family Farms Mean Business’ rally in April of 2017. Photo by Megan Kemple.

Friends of Family Farmers also worked in support of the Farm to School bill, which got $4.5 million for the next biennium, a big win in Oregon’s very tough funding climate this year.

However, other bills were less successful.

The Oregon State University Statewide Public Service Programs, which include Extension and Agricultural Experiment Stations important for farmers of various types, needed $9.4 million to maintain current service levels. In the end, these programs received $5.6 million, a shortfall which OSU believes could result in the loss of seventeen full time positions.

Another top priority for Friends of Family Farmers was a beginning farmer tax credit bill (HB 2085), intended to encourage landowners to enter long term leases with beginning farmers and to help with farm succession.

But in an effort to save the state money, the final ‘omnibus’ tax credit bill the Legislature passed actually eliminated or curtailed a number of existing tax credits instead of adding new ones. One legislator remarked it was a rare tax credit bill that actually generated revenue for the state instead of reducing it.

To find money for the beginning farmer tax credit and other programs, Friends of Family Farmers pushed to reform or eliminate a manure digester tax credit that primarily goes to the state’s largest dairy farm, linking continued funding for this credit to the need for better regulation of air emissions from the state’s largest dairies. While another FoFF priority bill to create an air emissions program for large dairies died in committee, the ‘bovine manure tax credit’ was allowed to stay in place until the end of 2021, with a cap set at $10 million per biennium.

Looking back on the session, FoFF’s Maluski said it is frustrating to think that the state could budget $10 million per biennium for manure management aimed primarily at helping the state’s largest dairy operation, but that more wasn’t done to help out beginning farmers.

But, he noted, “we’ll be back again with the beginning farmer tax credit proposal, and if the state’s budget situation turns around, I’ll be much more optimistic about its future prospects.”

Phillip Kennedy-Wong, Oregon Food Bank

In its mission to end hunger, Oregon Food Bank doesn’t just distribute food to local agencies across the state, it also addresses the root causes of hunger through policy advocacy.

Phillip Kennedy-Wong is an advocate for Oregon Food Bank at the state legislature.  For the last six years, he has lobbied on legislation that is part of the food bank’s broader effort to root out hunger. This involves tracking a diverse set of issues such as food systems, affordable housing, healthcare access, welfare programs, transportation access to jobs and services, and other inequities that lead to food insecurity.

This particular session in light of declining state revenue, Oregon Food Bank focused on securing funds for basic food services. Oregon’s economy improved over the past few years, but personal income growth is not keeping up with the cost of living and thus has not translated into greater food security. The number of Oregonians relying on food assistance remain at recession-levels. The Oregon Hunger Response Fund is a critical state program to Oregon’s network of 20 regional food banks’ ability to distribute food cost-effectively.

Oregon Food Bank educated lawmakers about how the state’s affordable housing crisis has led to higher food insecurity. In addition to more funds to the Emergency Housing Account/State Homeless Assistance Program for the 2017-19 biennium, the Oregon Legislature increased the state’s investment in the Oregon Hunger Response Fund to $4.2 million.

Oregon Food Bank believes the Legislature must understand that addressing systemic inequities is critical and necessary to root out the causes of hunger, specifically for those stigmatized by race, class, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, geography and other devices that deter people from meeting their basic needs to live.

Thanks to our OCFSN colleagues for sharing their experiences during the session. If you have a story to share about your organization’s efforts and experience at the Legislature this year, please let us know.

What does it take to scale up to wholesale?

In 1990, Steve and Suzi Fry started farming on a handful of acres in the Rogue Valley. Now, over 25 years later, their operation has expanded to over 90 acres of vegetable, flowers, and berries being grown across the region.

As their acreage increased, the farm reached capacity for their washing and packing house. When the family began to look into options to improve their infrastructure, they realized that this was a growing problem for many people in the wholesale market who wanted to grow their business. With this in mind, the family started to think about developments that would not only help their farm, but also the larger local farm community.

The Fry Family Farm Food Hub is a recently completed a 1.2 million dollar project to develop an on-farm produce-washing and sorting line, cooler and freezer space, loading dock, commercial kitchen, and retail space. Family members Ashley and Amber Fry stressed the importance of planning to determine the appropriate design, capacities, and scale of the facility to ensure full utilization.

This farm was one of the stops on a recent tour hosted by OCFSN’s “Wholesale Market Development” committee. Participants learned about opportunities and challenges for farmers trying to scale from direct to wholesale markets, and for distributors and retailers trying to source more local products.

Tour stops included two local farms (Fry Family Farm and Wandering Roots Farm), two handling facilities (Fry Family Farm Food Hub and Naumes, Inc.) and one retail store (Cartwright’s Valley Meat Company).

Panel discussions were also held with wholesale distributors (Charlie’s Produce, Organically Grown Company, and Rogue Natural Foods), retail food buyers (Ashland Food Co-op, Natural Grocers, and Ray’s Marketplace), and farmers exploring wholesale markets (Blue Fox Farms, Rainshadow Organics, and Shasta View Inc.)
Speakers on the distributor and retail panels affirmed that there is growing consumer demand for local products, but it can be challenging finding the right fit for both buyers and farm suppliers. As Mike Nuebeck from Organically Grown Company said:

“Selling to wholesale is the graduate school of farming. The requirements are the highest and the returns are the lowest. You have to have skills to make it work.”

Issues of concern raised by panelists included the quality of produce, consistent supply, meeting requirements for food safety, and the importance of cosmetic appearance. Sarahlee Lawrence, from Rainshadow Organics, noted that it is a real struggle to have enough “perfect” produce. On average, this is only 20% of their total crop.

Farmers noted the importance of telling their story and using websites and social media to enable a connection with the end buyer, even with distribution.

Both farmers and food processors also called out increasing challenges in meeting labor needs.

Local organizers for the tour included THRIVE and Rogue Valley Farm to School. Support for the event came from Meyer Memorial Trust and the Corvallis Environmental Center.

Tracy Harding of Rogue Valley Farm to School, a recent graduate of the Food Hub Management certificate program at the University of Vermont, put together the following list of resources for people interested in learning more about food hubs:

The Role of Food Hubs in Local Food Marketing
Running a Food Hub: Lessons Learned from the Field
Running a Food Hub: A Business Operations Guide
Food Hubs – Solving Local: Small-Farm Aggregators Scale Up With Larger Buyers
USDA Food Value Chains Creating Shared Value to Enhance Marketing Success
Fresh Connections: The Pilot Season of a Rural Food Hub
Best Practices Guidebook: Food Hub Vendor Manual
Best Practices Guidebook: Food Hub Grower Manual
Sacramento Region Food Hub Feasibility Analysis
Building Successful Food Hubs: A Business Planning Guide for Aggregating and Processing Local Food in Illinois
Running a Food Hub: Assessing Financial Viability

Wallowa County participates in FEAST program developed by Oregon Food Bank

Food systems are complex and are composed of considerations in health, nutrition, food insecurity, production, distribution, and economic opportunities. In Wallowa County, a community of less than 8,000 people, members of the Wallowa County Food System Council have been looking into how these factors interact in their region and have been working since 2011 to create an equitable, local food system that promotes economic development, community development, and sustainable agriculture.

Noticing there were gaps in the system and wanting to bring the community together to address these gaps, the Wallowa County Food System Council applied to participate in FEAST (Food, Education, Agriculture, Solutions, Together), a program of Oregon Food Bank that helps communities mobilize around improving their local food systems. This spring, Tracy Gagnon, a Community Food Systems Developer with the Oregon Food Bank will be conducting twelve FEAST events in eight other communities around the state. This model has been used for eight years in nearly 100 communities across Oregon.

On Saturday, March 4th, forty-five people from around Wallowa County devoted their Saturday to discussing ways to improve the food system of the county. In attendance were local producers, ranchers, government officials, small business owners, nonprofit staff, community volunteers, and interested citizens. Through a series of facilitated conversations, they visualized their ideal community food system and brainstormed strategies and projects to achieve this vision.


In the afternoon, participants sorted themselves into five working groups to have deeper conversations -about some of their proposed strategies. These topic groups included education, youth, Farmer’s Market growth, resource sharing, and economic development projects.

The scale of the strategies proposed by these groups varied widely. The economic development group’s discussion developing a regional brand for marketing and supporting value-added products by building a regional food hub. Meanwhile the Farmer’s Market group proposed establishing a collaborative booth, allowing individuals to sell small amounts of their produce with the hope that they will eventually be able to grow into a booth of their own.

This year, for the first time, communities that participate in FEAST will also be awarded $4,000 to help kick start their ideas and bring them into fruition. In Wallowa County, the first $1,000 of this grant was awarded to the Enterprise Head Start Garden Expansion and to the Magic Garden Day Camp at a follow up event on March 8th.

According to Tracy Gagnon, the hope is that the conversations started at these events turn into continued work. In fact, the Wallowa County Food System Council grew out of the region’s first FEAST event, held back in 2011.

The Oregon Food Bank is a backbone support organization of OCFSN. OCFSN members, Ann Bloom of Oregon State Extension of Wallowa County and Sara Miller of Northeast Oregon Economic Development District helped organize the FEAST along with other local partners.  Miller is currently serving as chair of OCFSN’s Leadership Team. OCFSN’s Member Services Coordinator, Anya Moucha, was also in attendance at the FEAST.

“It was a wonderful event to witness,” said Moucha, “Not only were there a number of OCFSN member organizations in the room, but the community raised a few key issues that we’ve been trying to tackle as a network, including wholesale market development.”

The event was sponsored by Oregon State University Extension, the Magic Garden Project, Wallowa County Food System Council, and the Northeast Oregon Economic Development District (NEOEDD).


Become a Sponsor for OCFSN’s 2017 Convening!

On April 18th and 19th, OCFSN will host the 2017 Convening, an annual, invitation-only event that brings together community leaders from around the state to network, share information, participate in workshops and trainings, and advance common goals for positive food systems change. Held at the Oregon Garden in Silverton, this event is expected to draw an audience of 80-100 non-profit, business, and agency leaders.

OCFSN is a collaborative of 40 nonprofit organizations and allies dedicated to strengthening local and regional food systems to deliver better economic, social, health and environmental outcomes across the state. We’re working to develop proactive strategies to make Oregon the national model for food systems development.

Please considering supporting this informative event. As a sponsor of the OCFSN Convening, you can show your support for strengthening local and regional food systems, and your company will be seen by dozens of community leaders from around the state.


Presenting Sponsor – $25,000
(1 available)
Opportunity to speak during the opening plenary.
Full-page ad on back cover of conference program.
Name and logo on center stage signage.
Public thanks by organizers from the stage.
4 conference registrations.
Banner on OCFSN website.

Platinum Sponsor – $10,000
Full-page ad in conference program.
Name and logo on event signage.
Public thanks by organizers from the stage.
2 conference registrations.
Banner on OCFSN website.

Gold Sponsor – $5,000
½ page ad in conference program.
Name and logo on event signage.
Public thanks by organizers from the stage.
2 conference registrations.
Banner on OCFSN website.

Silver Sponsor – $2,500
¼ page ad in conference program.
Name and logo on event signage.
1 conference registration.
Banner on OCFSN website.

Copper Sponsor – $1,000
1 conference registration.
Name and logo in conference program.
Name and logo on OCFSN website.

Friend – $500
Name and logo in conference program.
Name and logo on OCFSN website.

Supporter – $100
Name in conference program.
Name on OCFSN website.


Make a Statement Now!
The 2017 Oregon Community Food Systems Convening will be the site of some of the most important conversations held on farm and food issues all year. Don’t miss out on your chance to support and be part of the conversation as we continue to define our shared vision, strategies and goals for Oregon.

For more information, download the 2017 Convening – Sponsorship Information Sheet.

Please contact Matthew Buck if you have questions or to confirm your sponsorship:

Phone: 503-267-4667
E-mail: [email protected]

OCFSN welcomes new RARE volunteer.

Anya Moucha is the new RARE volunteer for OCFSN. Anya will be based out of the Oregon Food Bank office in North Portland. She will help coordinate the work of OCFSN’s project teams, organize trainings for member organizations, and build public support for local and regional food systems through outreach and education.

Originally from Wisconsin, she has a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies and Environmental Policy from the University of Minnesota and has previously worked for the Bayfield Regional Conservancy, the Institute on the Environment, and Ensia Magazine. Last year, she served as a RARE Americorps member with the St. Helens Economic Development Corporation. She enjoys pottery, cooking, and snowshoeing.

New study reveals Oregon’s farmland is in increasingly older hands.

In the next 20 years, 64% of Oregon’s farmland (up to 10.45 million acres) is expected to change hands, according to a recent research study by Oregon State University, Portland State University, and Rogue Farm Corps.

The study found that the average age of farmer in Oregon is edging towards 60 and the vast majority of Oregon farmers and ranchers likely do not have a thorough plan for passing on their farm business and assets to the next generation. Thus, it is unclear who will farm and steward this land into the future.

Moreover, beginning and young farmers find it harder and harder to access farmland, with dramatically increasing farmland prices – averaging $30,000 per acre in Clackamas County, for example. One reason that farmland prices might be escalating is increasing demand from non-farming farmland purchasers, including investment companies and “lifestyle” rural residents.


“With 84 percent of Oregon farms and ranches being sole proprietorships, we’re concerned that many farms do not have thorough succession plans. It begs the question of how this land will transition and the impact that will have on future generations,” said Nellie McAdams, farm preservation program director of Rogue Farm Corps.

There is no doubt that the stakes are high when it comes to the potential loss of Oregon’s farmland. Agriculture directly accounts for four percent of the state’s employment and indirectly accounts for 14 percent. Twenty percent of Oregon’s agricultural products remain in the state, supplying local food systems and providing food security. Agricultural business owners contribute to their rural economies and communities. And the open space and associated fish and wildlife habitat that agricultural lands provide support important environmental, scenic, and lifestyle benefits for the entire state.

The Future of Oregon’s Agricultural Land” delves into issues of farmland tenure and the likely results for Oregon’s economy, food systems, and rural communities. The report also identifies important avenues for further research and also educational and policy tools that will help Oregon farmers with succession planning and assist beginning farmers in securing land. Examples include working lands easements, farming-savvy succession counselors, and other strategies. The report emphasizes that planning ahead for farmland transition, and focusing on access by diverse farmers, is key to making sure land remains used for agricultural purposes.


Researchers drew upon data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), interviews with several dozen farmers, realtors, and other stakeholders, and a pilot study of tax records in four Oregon counties to examine trends in farmland transfers.

Read the report and executive summary on OSU’s website for more information, and contact Nellie McAdams, Farm Preservation Program Director at Rogue Farm Corps, for more information: [email protected]

2016 Culture of Health Prize Winner: Columbia Gorge Region Veggie Rx Program


The Columbia Gorge Region is a winner of the 2016 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Prize. One of the community’s successful initiatives is a “Veggie Rx” program. Veggie Rx is administered by OCFSN Member organization Gorge Grown Food Network and was developed in partnership with Lauren Kraemer of Oregon State University Extension’s Family & Community Health (FCH) program. The Veggie Rx program “prioritizes food not just theoretically or through nutritional advice, but on the ground by screening patients for their food needs,” says Sarah Sullivan, executive director of Gorge Grown. Veggie Rx is a unique program to feed the food insecure. It grew out of a needs assessment by the region’s Coordinated Care Organization that deemed Food Insecurity as a top issue along with a Community Food Assessment that determined 1 in 3 people in the Gorge worry about where their food comes from, and 1 in 5 miss meals regularly.

Issue Overview

According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 1990 no state had an obesity rate greater than 15%. Just 15 years later, however, 5 states had obesity rates between 20% and 25%, and the remaining 45 states all had rates over 25%.

Studies have shown that being overweight or obese poses risks for health problems including type 2 diabetes, high blood cholesterol, hypertension and stroke, asthma, and certain forms of cancer. The National Center for Weight & Wellness at George Washington University has estimated that obesity-related medical costs now total over $300 billion.

Local and community food systems advocates are now promoting affordable access to fresh fruits and vegetables in an effort to shift diets away from highly processed, high-fat and high-sugar foods.

Veggie Rx programs empower doctors and nurses to offer vouchers for purchases of fresh fruits and vegetables to patients who are experiencing specific diet related health concerns or food insecurity. Some programs also offer nutrition counseling and cooking skills education to help patients develop healthier eating habits.

About the Program

The mission of Gorge Grown is to build a resilient and inclusive regional Food System that improves the health and well-being of the community. In 2014, 40 organizations worked together to identify the top health needs in the region through a Community Health Needs Assessment.  Through this work, the top two needs identified by community members in the Social Determinants of Health category were food insecurity and affordable housing.

Gorge Grown’s Veggie Rx program is a fruit and vegetable prescription program designed to address food insecurity and increase intake of fresh produce. The program empowers health care and social services providers to ‘prescribe’ vouchers to community members who screen positive for food insecurity.

Citizens are screened by 40 participating health care and social service providers. If they suffer from hunger, they are given a packet of vouchers worth $30 for one month to redeem at any one of 30 local groceries, farms stands, or farmers markets. This provides direct access to healthy, local produce to those that need it most while strengthening the economy by keeping dollars local.

The program has fed more than 6,500 people in just one year with an emphasis on pregnant mothers, children younger than 10, diabetics and the elderly. Recipients have embraced the idea: at senior centers, the redemption rate has been as high as 98 percent. Funding support has come from local hospitals and clinics, as well as private sources, with efforts underway to raise additional public and private funds to expand and sustain a larger base of users. The Veggie Rx program has been a tool for linking farmers with local consumers, and participants have experienced an improvement in diet, nutrition, physical health, mental health, and financial health. Additional information about Gorge Grown’s Veggie Rx program can be found here.


About the Award

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), whose mission is “to improve the health and health care of all Americans,” has selected seven communities to receive the 2016 RWJF Culture of Health Prize (#cutlureofhealthprize). The winning communities were chosen from a group of nearly 200 applicants and are being honored for their efforts to ensure all residents have the opportunity to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives.

Each winner will receive a $25,000 cash prize, join a network of Prize-winning communities, and share their inspiring stories of challenges met, successes achieved, and lessons learned with other communities building a Culture of Health across the country. More information about the 2016 RWJF Culture of Health Prize for Veggie Rx in the Columbia River Gorge can be found here.


Sponsors sought for 2017 Oregon Community Food Systems Convening.

The Oregon Community Food Systems Convening is a two-day event that brings advocates, organizers, and service providers from throughout the state to Corvallis each February to share information, participate in workshops and trainings, and advance common goals for positive food systems change.

The 2017 Convening will mark the 6th time this event has been held. The 2012-2016 Convenings were made possible by Meyer Memorial Trust. Starting this year, OCFSN is opening the door for other sponsors to show their support for stronger local and regional food systems.

We are pleased to acknowledge the Harbourton Foundation as our first Platinum Sponsor for 2017.

Sponsorship opportunities include:

Presenting Sponsor

(1 only)

$25,000 ·      Opportunity to speak during opening plenary.

·      Full-page ad on back cover of conference program.

·      Name and logo on center stage signage.

·      Public thanks by organizers.

·      4 conference registrations.

·      Banner on OCFSN website.



$10,000 ·      Full-page ad in conference program.

·      Name and logo on event signage.

·      Public thanks by organizers.

·      2 conference registrations.

·      Banner on OCFSN website.

Gold Sponsor $5,000 ·      Public thanks by organizers.

·      2 conference registrations.

·      1/2 page ad in conference program.

·      Banner on OCFSN website.

Silver Sponsor $2,500 ·      1 conference registration.

·      1/4 page ad in conference program.

·      Name and logo on OCFSN website.

Copper Sponsor $1,000 ·      1 conference registration.

·      Name and logo in conference program.

·      Name and logo on OCFSN website.

Friend $500 ·      Name and logo in conference program.

·      Name and logo on OCFSN website.

Supporter $100 ·      Name in conference program.

·      Name on OCFSN website.

The 2017 Oregon Community Food Systems Convening will be the site of some of the most important conversations held on farm and food issues all year. Don’t miss out on your chance to support and be part of the conversation as we continue to define our shared vision, strategies and goals for Oregon.

Please e-mail call Matthew Buck at 503-267-4667 or e-mail [email protected] if you have questions about sponsorship of the 2017 Oregon Community Food Systems Convening.