Food Systems Connectivity Convening

The Food Systems Connectivity Convening conference, supported by a Rural Community Development Initiative Grant from USDA Rural Development, will allow participants from northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia to:

  • Share their points of impact in the regional food system.
  • Connect with other professionals, resources, and projects that can advance your work.
  • Identify potential  collaborative opportunities;  and
  • Begin a process to create a shared vision for the regional food system that improves the health and economic outlook our region


The meeting will be held:

Thursday October 1, 2015
Registration between 8:30am – 9:00am
Conference concludes at 4:00pm

 The location is:

Second Harvest Food Bank
1020 Jericho Drive
Kingsport, TN 37663

This work is supported by a Rural Community Development Initiative Grant from USDA Rural Development.  We are grateful to be part of a significant regional award funding similar objectives across five Appalachian states, coordinated by the Central Appalachian Network (CAN) and the Food Systems Working Group of the Appalachia Funders Network.

We expect 80-100 participants from the public, private, and non-profit sectors across northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia.

The discussions will focus on one or more of the following five areas:

1. Food Access:  Improving access to healthy, fresh, and local food options for all members of our community

  • Interested groups:  community gardens, food banks, food pantries, growers, public health, transportation, NGOs, Department of Human Services, schools

2. Food Production, Marketing, and Distribution: Connecting growers to local and regional markets for their products

  • Interested groups:  growers, buyers of food, agricultural professionals, NGOs, government entities

3. Food and Health Systems: Promoting and increasing access to locally grown, healthy food to healthcare recipients

  • Interested groups:  hospital foundations, public health, clinics, nursing homes, retirement communities, accountable care organizations

4. Policy and Economic DevelopmentCreating and advocating for better policies to support our regional food system and economy

  • Interested groups:  : economic development boards, chamber of commerce, state and federal entities, politicians and/or staff, schools and other organizations with food regulations to promote locally-grown food

5. Workforce Development and Education: Creating opportunities and training for an entrepreneurship-minded food and agriculture workforce

  • Interested groups:  high schools, vocational, higher education, workforce investment boards, economic development, chambers of commerce, NGOs who are training young people, reentry programs

Please RSVP by Tuesday Sept. 15.

Follow this link for registration.


Draft Agenda for October 1:

8:30-9:00 Registration
9:00-9:30 Welcome and Introductions
9:30-10:00 Keynote Speaker: Randy Wykoff Dean of ETSU College of Public Health
10:00-11:30 Session 1–Discussions based on five working groups
11:30-11:45 Break
11:45-12:30 Session 2–Discussions based on five working groups
12:30-1:30 Lunch and a chance to network
1:30-2:45 Session 3–Discussions based on five working groups
2:45-3:30 Plenary and Next Steps
3:30-4:00 Closing

We hope you can attend.  If you have any questions, please contact the person who invited you or email Alexis Close at the Appalachian RC&D Council.

The Visioning Planning Team:

Alexis Close and Emily Bidgood, Appalachian RCD Council
Kathlyn Terry, Appalachian Sustainable Development
Sally Causey, Rural Resources
Trudy Hughes, East Tennessee Foundation
Deb Slawson and Randy Wykoff, ETSU College of Public Health
Melody Counts, VA Department of Health
Tom Dierolf and Andrew Crosson, Rural Support Partners