Colleen Matts, MSU Center for Regional Food Systems and MFIN Co-Lead
As the new year gets rolling, MFIN is going through some changes. First, we must say goodbye to MFIN co-founder and co-lead from the Ecology Center, Hillary Bisnett. Her vision, action-oriented style, tireless energy and passion for this work will be greatly missed, and we wish her well in her future endeavors with Health Care Without Harm at the national level. We also say goodbye to Alyson Oslin, a trusty staff member and then contractor with the Ecology Center who developed many of our communication platforms and processes you still see today. A big thank you goes to Nicki Milgrom for holding up the Ecology Center partnership throughout these changes. In the near future, Michaelle Rehmann will also step down from her temporary role as Outreach Subcommittee Chair. We can always count on Michaelle to jump right in and run with farm to institution work, and she did not disappoint.
We also thank former MFIN Advisory Committee members Stephanie Ksionsyk from HoneeBear Canning for representing the food processor perspective, and Bob Reich of US Foods who brought a full-service distributor voice to our work. Both stepped down from this role for 2016 after two years of service. Appreciation goes to Gina Keilen from MSU Residential and Hospitality Services for her year of service on the committee, as well as congratulations as Gina is now out on maternity leave!
Despite these many changes, the MFIN Team is expanding for the year ahead.
We welcome Lindsey Scalera to the co-lead role through Ecology Center. Many of you may already know Lindsey from her work developing and coordinating Michigan Voices for Good Food Policy, a strategic, multi-year campaign aimed at uniting Michigan grassroots and key constituency voices around federal agriculture and food system policy. Lindsey is an awesome storyteller and photographer and a dedicated and energetic organizer. We are lucky to have her. (And we’re glad we kept her in Michigan!) She will also take on the Outreach Subcommittee Chair role until we find a more permanent replacement. (Be in touch if you’re interested and want to learn more about this role!)
We are happy to share that the MFIN Advisory Committee is growing to include representatives from early childhood programs, food service management, and senior care/living facilities; Amanda Gallaher from the Association for Child Development, Janine Oberstadt from Creative Dining Services, and Brian Rosso from American House Senior Living are all joining the committee in 2016. Warm welcomes to go Eric Pearson of Pearson Foods to fill the food processor seat on the committee, and Keith Soster of the University of Michigan who will represent colleges and universities. We greatly appreciate our returning advisory committee members for their deeply committed service to MFIN.
Finally, MFIN’s Leadership Team is expanding to include field partners, many representing the supply chain side of the farm to institution equation. We expect these partners will bring broader perspective and additional partnerships as we seek to leverage more resources to accomplish our collective goals.
Welcome to our new field partners:
- Rachel Bair from Kalamazoo Valley Community College
- Noel Bielaczyc from MSU Center for Regional Food Systems and the Michigan Food Hub Network and Livestock Work Group
- Devita Davison from FoodLab Detroit
- Becky Henne with MSU Extension’s Community Food Systems work group and Health and Nutrition Institute
- Jen Silveri from the Natural Resources Conversation Service in Eaton County and a Council member of Michigan Food and Farming Systems (MIFFS)
- Tyler Vuillemot, Hoophouses for Health Program Manager with the Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA)
These field partners will surely be an important, complementary leadership force along with our critical, long-term partners at the Michigan Departments of Education, Agriculture and Rural Development, and Health and Human Services.
You can see our full, all-star team here: MFIN Leadership Team. We have been happy and humbled to see the level of interest and support in MFIN and Cultivate Michigan, and we are so grateful for the invaluable contributions of time, energy and resources our advisory committee members and management and leadership teams bring to this important work. We can certainly get farther faster to help institutions source 20% of their foods from Michigan by 2020 and help farmers profitably supply to those markets when we work together, and we look forward to a great year ahead.