LEWISTON, March 23, 2016 – A crowd gathered this afternoon, at the Lewiston Public Library to celebrate the release of Lewiston-Auburn’s first Community Food Charter. The Lewiston-Auburn Community Food Charter was launched by the Good Food Council of Lewiston-Auburn (GFCLA) as a way to highlight L-A’s community food values and build support for a more sustainable local food system. To mark the occasion, Dr. Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, 2016 Justice for Women lecturer and global leader in sustainable farming and the fight to end food insecurity, spoke about the critical role that agriculture and food play in the overall well-being of a community and its economy.
Karen Bolduc, Chair of the GFCLA, explained the purpose of the Food Charter. “A Food Charter is a values statement that helps set the stage for local food policy; it is a way to ground our community decisions and actions in set of principles about good food,” said Bolduc.
Bolduc explained that the Food Charter is on the GFCLA website where community members are encouraged to endorse the one-page Charter to show their commitment to improving the local food system.
A food system includes all processes and infrastructure involved in feeding a population — from growing food, to waste management, and everything in between. The GFCLA believes that farmers, consumers, and communities can partner to create a more locally-based food and agriculture economy. The Charter asks endorsers to support efforts that honor L-A’s rich agricultural history, increase access to ‘good food’ for all, and preserve use of working farm land. Endorsers will be publicly displayed on the GFCLA website.
The L-A Community Food Charter is the first Food Charter in the State.
“The L-A Food Charter makes the important connections between sustainable farming practices, healthy food access and thriving economic communities and it’s important to articulate these principles and put them down on paper,” offered U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree in a statement provided to the GFCLA.
“This Charter brings ‘good food’ to the heart a thriving Lewiston-Auburn community,” said Dr. Sibanda. “It also recognizes that all our food comes from somewhere and that where it comes from how it’s produced matters.” Dr. Sibanda is visiting Maine as part of the annual Justice for Women Lecture Series, presented by the University of Maine School of Law, and is highlighting important local efforts, like the Lewiston-Auburn Community Food Charter. She is CEO of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network and is a leading voice in the “Farming First” global campaign to promote sustainable agricultural development.
The Food Charter has garnered early support from several local residents, businesses, farms, and organizations including Bates Dining, St. Mary’s Health System, Central Maine Medical Center, and 4 Season Farm Market. Attendees took advantage of the opportunity to endorse the Food Charter while at the event as well.
On hand to share thoughts about their endorsement of the Food Charter was Erica Dostie of Austin Associates, an Auburn-based accounting firm. “As a company we are committed to educating our employees about local sustainable agriculture. One example of this commitment is that we offer a Farm to Business program in which fresh local vegetables are delivered to our office weekly. Our employees support local farmers, learn about local produce, and provide healthier meals for themselves and their families. We think it’s a great start!” said Dostie.
Catherine Lee, founder of the Justice for Women Lecture Series, emceed the event. “A thriving and sustainable food system is not only good for women, but for all of us — in Lewiston/Auburn, in Maine, in the US, and across the globe. I am happy to join the Council today as they take this important step in my hometown,” said Lee, a Lewiston native.
Those interested in learning more about the Food Charter are invited to visit the GFCLA website at goodfood4la.org.