The Maricopa County Food System Coalition celebrated its two-year anniversary with an open house on March 23 at the Burton Barr Library, Pulliam Auditorium.
About 60 people attended the commemorative event, held 9-11:30 a.m., recognizing the efforts of MarCo supporting and growing an equitable, healthy, sustainable and thriving food system in Maricopa County, according to a press release.
During the open house, MarCo received a donation from the Neighborhood Initiatives and The Original Chop Shop community program that awards funds to organizations working to improve community health.
The open house highlighted MarCo’s accomplishments such as the completion of the regional Community Food Assessment, a comprehensive study that measured Maricopa County’s food system assets and needs in order to guide the coalition’s strategic planning, education initiatives and engagement with key stakeholders regarding food issues, the release said.
Those who attended the open house tasted dishes by Chef Aaron Chamberlin, head chef and co-owner of St. Francis Restaurant and Phoenix Public Market Café. He also conversed with Paris Masek, of Sun-Produce Co-Op, about their efforts to purchase locally-grown food, the release said, acknowledging ongoing collaborations between restaurants and growers, and increasing availability of healthy food in neighborhoods where residents are more than a mile away from a “healthy food retail outlet.”
Attendees participated in a policy discussion about efforts to ease restrictions on community food gardens; learn about new community programs; and fundraising opportunities. Last October, MarCo co-hosted Phoenix Food Day with the City of Phoenix in which thousands of people learned about growing and cooking healthy food. Phoenix Food Day featured special farmers market vendors, a food fitness challenge, cooking and gardening demonstrations plus other fun activities.
Founded by members representing more than 80 organizations, including Vitalyst Health Foundation, MarCo is an independent, volunteer community organization advocating for the regeneration and advancement of the local food system in Maricopa County.
The organization represents a broad cross section of industries, from agriculture, health, access, processing, distribution, community and government. Members are committed to exchange ideas and experiences in order to learn best practices from each other and to work together.
To learn more about MarCo, go to marcofoodcoalition.org.