Food Systems Initiative gets renewed

Food Systems Initiative gets renewed

The UVM Food Systems Initiative is getting revamped after six years.


The initiative began in 2010 as a five-year transdisciplinary research initiative and UVM was one of the first universities in the country to have such extensive research on food systems, according to Alison Nihart, Real Food Working Group Staff Advisor.


“Six years ago food systems was really new territory and research we’ve conducted has shown that other universities really see UVM as a leader, we’ve really set the bar,” Nihart said.


The Initiative office is working on setting a new vision statement, mission statement and five new goals for the coming years, according to Director Doug Lantagne.


“We see this as a good time to do some reflection and planning for the future,” Nihart said.


Additionally, Director Lantagne is stepping down in June.


“I took the job on as a temporary two year job, part-time, but it sort of turned into four years,” Lantagne said. “I think Director needs to be a full-time faculty position and with the strategic directions process taking place this year I think the timing all makes sense.”


The process of looking for a new director should begin in the fall once the Initiative’s new objectives are finalized, according to Lantagne.


The source of funding for the Food Systems Initiative will be changing, as well.  


The start-up funds from the university are ending this year. However, Sodexo gave a gift that will fund the Food Systems Initiative for the next three to five years.


“We’ll also be looking for other organizations interested in giving gifts over the next few years,” said Lantagne.


On April 28 the Food Systems Initiative will be holding a public forum to present the draft of its new objectives.


“We’re looking for opinion, reactions and input from students and community members,” Nihart said.


After further tweaking, the objectives will be presented again at the Fifth Annual Food Systems Summit held at UVM on June 14 and 15, and then finalized in the fall.


Lantagne said some of his main concerns include working campus-wide on diversifying food systems curriculum and keeping UVM a global leader in food systems.

UVM offers a food systems minor, a master’s and a PhD. An undergraduate major in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is awaiting approval in May, Provost Rosowsky said.