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News Advisory
RI Department of Environmental Management
235 Promenade Street, Providence, RI 02908
(401) 222-2771 TDD/(401) 222-4462
Date: Monday, October 24, 2011


10 a.m.
Location: Governor's State Room, RI State House
Event: Launch of New RI Food Policy Council and Summary of the RI Food Assessment to Take Place at National Food Day Event at State House

For Release:

October 20, 2011
Contact: Gail Mastrati 222-4700 ext. 2402


PROVIDENCE - Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit will join First Lady Stephanie Chafee; Department of Health Director Michael Fine, MD; Senator Susan Sosnowski; Henry Herrera, MD, general manager for Dig Deep Farms & Produce, a project of the Alameda County Deputy Sheriffs Activities League; and others to launch the RI Food Policy Council and release a summary of the RI Food Assessment on Food Day — Monday, October 24.

The 10 a.m. State House event is planned to focus attention on the importance of ensuring a healthy, affordable, sustainable, and locally-grown food supply. Promoting healthy diets and increasing access to fresh, safe, and affordable food is critical to improving residents' overall health, and benefits low-income populations in particular.

"The State of Rhode Island possesses a rich local food culture that supports and promotes the health and well-being of Rhode Island communities and the local economy," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "Strengthening our food system and increasing access to healthy and affordable food will take creativity, dedication, and collaboration among all Rhode Islanders. I look forward to working with the RI Food Policy Council and other stakeholders to advocate for improvements to our local food system that ensure its sustainability."

"Available, affordable, and locally-grown fresh fruits and vegetables help Rhode Islanders stay healthy," said Director of Health Michael Fine, MD. "A healthier diet combined with more physical activity, will help Rhode Islanders reduce their risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer."

Senator Susan Sosnowski, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Agriculture said, "As we continue to address the health and food needs for all the citizens of Rhode Island, it is essential that we foster locally produced, sustainable food sources that promote economic vitality and protect farmers for generations to come."

"Opportunities for Action," a summary of the soon-to-be completed RI Food Assessment which is a comprehensive report on the current state of the food system in Rhode Island, will be released at the event. The Food Assessment lays the groundwork for the RI Food Policy Council, which will work to create partnerships, develop policies, and advocate for improvements to the local food system that increase and expand its capacity, viability, and sustainability. Some highlights of the full report that will be released in December are as follows:
  • Nearly one in seven RI households has difficulty providing enough food for their families.
  • Just over 15 percent of Rhode Islanders are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps.
  • RI has 46 farmers' markets, and about half accept SNAP benefits.
  • On average, 25,525 Rhode Islanders participated in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) each month during 2010.
  • Sixty-two percent of RI adults are either overweight or obese, and only 30 percent of RI adults consume the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
  • There is an incredible breadth of food system research, activities, and innovation in RI, including remarkable growth in the number of new farms and direct sales from farmers to consumers. The state has progressive, well-established community gardens and community gardening resources. All school districts in the state serve some local food.
  • RI farms are diversifying both the range of foods they produce, and the range of marketing channels they employ.
Following the State House event, the RI Food Policy Council will host a community presentation and discussion entitled "Come Talk About Food!" The event will take place from 4 p.m. to 6 pm at the URI Providence campus located at 80 Washington Street in Providence. Karp Resources will present their findings on the current state of the food system in Rhode Island. The public will have an opportunity to discuss the RI Food Assessment findings and share their ideas for making RI's food system stronger, sustainable, and more equitable.

The launch of the 15-member RI Food Policy Council is the culmination of a year-long planning process made possible by funding from the van Beuren Charitable Foundation and the Rhode Island Foundation. The goal of the RI Food Policy Council is to increase and strengthen the capacity and sustainability of our local food system so that everyone, especially low-income populations in the state, can have access to locally-raised healthy, safe, affordable, and culturally-acceptable food.

Members of the RI Food Policy Council include representatives from DEM (Ken Ayars), RI Department of Health (Michael Fine, MD and Randi Belhumeur), RI Department of Administration (Kelly Mahoney), Southside Community Land Trust (Katherine Brown), Grow Smart RI (Sheila Brush), Farm Fresh RI (Noah Fulmer), Brown University Institute for Community Health Promotion (Gemma Gorham), URI Feinstein Center for a Hunger Free America (Kathleen Gorman), African Alliance of RI (Julius Kolawole), RI School of Design Enrique Martinez), RI Resource Recovery Corporation (Krystal Noiseaux), URI Nutrition and Food Sciences Department (Lori Pivarnik), Environmental Justice League of RI (Amelia Rose), and the RI Community Food Bank (Andrew Schiff).

National Food Day is sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. More than 1,500 events are planned from coast to coast in homes, schools, universities, parks, and in Times Square. For information on additional Food Day events scheduled in Rhode Island, visit and search for events by zip code.


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rev. 10/20/11