Wilmington College to host Food Symposium March 31st

Kathleen A. Merrigan, who was selected by TIME magazine in 2010 as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World,” will highlight the link between the agriculture community and consumer as the keynote speaker at Wilmington College’s second annual Food Symposium March 31.

The day-long event will feature the theme “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food: Improving Access to Safe and Healthy Food.”

Merrigan is deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She helped develop the USDA’s organic labeling rules while head of the Agricultural Marketing Service from 1999 to 2001.

She has a Ph.D. in environmental planning from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and worked at Tufts University as its director of the Agriculture, Food and Environment Program.

Merrigan, whose presentation title is “The Critical Connection between Farmer and Consumer,” will speak at 7:30 p.m. She will highlight the efforts of the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative and will explore how agriculture policy-makers are “integral” to issues ranging from climate change to national security.

The day’s activities will start at 1 p.m. with a presentation on “Redesigning Our Food System: The Benefits and Challenges of Creating a Local Food Economy” by Ken Meter, president of Cross Roads Resource Center.

Meter is a global leader in planning and evaluation for food systems initiatives. The Minneapolis-based Crossroads Resource Center works with communities and their allies to foster democracy and local self-determination. It specializes in devising new tools communities can use to create a more sustainable future.

At 3 p.m., a panel will discuss the topic “The Reality of Creating a Sustainable and Viable Local Food Economy: Views from the Home Front.”

Rebecca Singer, vice president and director of agricultural programs with the Center for Innovative Food Technologies (CIFT), will serve as moderator of a panel comprised of a local food producer, a local food distributor and a chef from a local restaurant.

All programs will be in Hugh G. Heiland Theatre, located in the Oscar Boyd Cultural Arts Center.

Exhibits by CIFT and WC’s Grow Food, Grow Hope are planned to complement the programs.

Also, WC faculty members Corey Cockerill, assistant professor of communications, and Cathy Pitzer, assistant professor of social and political studies, will present a display highlighting their respective courses in environmental sociology and rural sociology as part of the College’s academic offerings in sustainable agriculture.

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