DRIVING CHANGE: 2018 CENTRAL FLORIDA FOOD SYSTEM TOUR

H. Wooten, UF/IFAS Extension Seminole County, Sanford, FL, L. Felter, UF/IFAS Extension, Regional Specialized Agent, Apopka, FL, R. Tyson, UF/IFAS Extension Orange County, Orlando, FL, and C. Glatting, UF/IFAS Extension Orange County, Orlando, FL

Situation: The global population is expected to increase from 7 to 9.5 billion by 2050. Agriculture uses 38% of Earth’s surface. Florida produces the second highest vegetable value in the United States. Agriculture is the state’s second largest industry. Enough food is produced to feed every person, yet 1 billion go hungry. The situation is an issue of the food system including production, processing, distribution, and waste.
Methods: In Spring 2018, UF/IFAS Extension and Good Food Central Florida, a food policy council, presented the 2018 Central Florida Food System Tour. Participants included Congressmen and community leaders travelling by bus and learning in the field. The tour featured food system experts, and visited large rural farms, smaller urban operations, processors, distributors, educators, and included a striking display of food waste.
Results: The tour included 40 participants and 7 educators. Post program evaluations (n= 40) indicated knowledge increase in the following elements of the food system: 100% in production, 85% in processing, 85% in distribution, 90% in waste, and 100% in education and outreach. Additionally, 95% increased knowledge about the significance of agriculture in Florida, 98% identified barriers in the local food system, and 80% identified economic development opportunities related to the local food system.
Conclusion: A tour of the local food system targeting community leaders is an effective educational approach. Networking cultivated relationships and new opportunities within the Central Florida Food System.   Exposing challenges and successes from production, processing, distribution, and waste creates opportunities for real solutions, from small to large scale, urban to rural.

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