In the fall of 2016, three food councils hosted Candidate Meet & Greet Forums as opportunities for candidates and elected officials to talk with community members about food and farm issues before the upcoming election. Candidates and community members both responded positively to the idea. Over the course of the three events, more than 200 community members and 19 candidates or local officials attended.
These events offered many opportunities for food councils, including:
- Raising awareness of the food council and its work in the community
- Engaging local officials and decision makers
- Informing community members and local officials of current food and farm issues
- Developing new partnerships with like-minded organizations
Food councils are great entities to host these bipartisan events and to help elevate the discussion and community engagement around food system opportunities and concerns. Community Food Strategies, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, and the Plate of the Union were all excited to help co-host these events with the food councils.
Each event was unique in location, time of day, and partners, and was adapted to fit their community. Moderators asked a series of questions to the candidates and community members were also invited to ask them questions.
We encourage other food councils to consider hosting this type of event for your community. Community Food Strategies is finalizing a Candidate Forum toolkit based on these experiences to support your work. We are happy to support your council and answer questions if you’re interested in hosting similar events.
Below are the agendas for each of the Candidate Meet & Greet Forums: