Since 2012, the CFSA has been a recognized statewide voice for a fairer and more just food system for all Connecticut residents. It has also effectively represented Connecticut in the regional Food Solutions New England work.
Following the release of a white paper by Melissa Spear and Jiff Martin titled “Farms, Food, and Jobs,” a small design team formed to explore the possibility of a statewide food system network in 2012. They hosted the first Connecticut Food System Alliance Gathering in December 2012 where the original vision and values were developed. The design team (“Network Support Team”) continued to arrange the network meetings and facilitate the work. The vision and values were adopted in May 2013.
In summer 2014, the Network Support Team reorganized itself into the Steering Committee and hired a part-time Coordinator with support from the Henry P. Kendall Foundation; at this time the CFSA also began to develop Sub-networks including Farm to School, School Gardens, Food Waste, Mobile Markets, and Youth and Food Justice. These highly focused Sub-networks enabled diverse stakeholders to communicate on issues they shared in common across geographic and sector boundaries.
In December 2015, the CFSA launched its mini-grant program, which supports community food projects with grants of up to $1,000. Since then, the CFSA has supported five local projects totaling $4,500 with plans to increase the amount of mini-grants available in 2017.
From 2013 to 2016, the CFSA hosted 8 network meetings or Gatherings with dedicated themes, including food justice and labor justice, as well as more generalized Gatherings. The CFSA has intentionally moved these meetings around the State, including in Bridgeport, New London, Hartford, and New Haven to highlight local work and engage local residents at each event.
Now, under guidance from the Transitional Steering Committee, the CFSA is transitioning in 2017 into an “Alignment Network,” one in which individuals and organizations collectively identify shared vision, goals, and measurements to bring about a more just food system.