Healthy Local Foods Initiatives
Food is at the center of our daily lives, and agriculture and food production are major driving forces in the state's economy. Supporting Arizona food entrepreneurs, farmers, ranchers, and others in the local food industry is an important part of our mission in fostering food-based community economic development and expanding access to affordable, fresh and local foods in both urban and rural areas. Our portfolio of foods initiatives demonstrates the connection between food, health, community and the environment, as well as fosters new opportunities for Arizona farmers, ranchers and food artisans.
Good Food Finder AZ
In 2015, the Local First Arizona Foundation launched an improved version of Good Food Finder AZ. Now featuring over 700 individual listings of where to find good food, Good Food Finder is Arizona’s most comprehensive online directory of local food.
This year’s improvements:
- Uses GPS to pinpoint exact location and narrow search to as close as within a five mile radius
- Business owners can now take control of their own listings and make updates themselves
- Sales outlets for local food now have a home on GFF. Farmers markets, CSAs, food hubs and restaurants that practice local sourcing can all now be listed
- The site’s design has been completely reconfigured, and it is now much faster, visually appealing and better organized
- New content and tools have been added to the Resource pages
Food & Farm Finance Forum
This year’s Food & Farm Finance Forum was held in historic Clarkdale in the Verde Valley. 132 farmers and producers, chefs and other local food buyers, economic development entities, local food system advocates, and students convened for two days to change the way our desert state feeds itself. This year’s focus was on marketing and outreach, food aggregation and distribution, and access to capital and business development with an overall emphasis on building food hubs and collaboration.
- 100% of forum attendees reported gaining valuable networking and coalition building opportunities
- Arizona food producers and entrepreneurs connected with organizations that are specifically interested in funding sustainable food enterprises
Farmer + Chef Connection
In 2015, Local First Arizona Foundation took full ownership of the Arizona Farmer+Chef Connection, an annual event with the mission of building wholesale business relationships between food producers and buyers. The Farmer+Chef Connection has grown from being an intimate event to one that reached over 400 attendees of all kinds this year. Just over 50% of attendees were represented by buyers looking to set up direct wholesale purchase accounts with Arizona’s food producers. Additionally, buyers who attended this year depicted a wide array of those looking to procure closer to home, ranging from locally-owned restaurants like Mama’s Hawaiian Bar-B-Cue to large-scale purchasers such as Costco, Fry’s, Aramark and Panda Express.
Local First Arizona staff participate in food policy groups across the state to network with other food system advocates and local policy officials in order to affect change to increase access to healthy local foods in our community.
- Maricopa County Food System Coalition
- City of Tucson Commission for Food Security, Heritage and Economics
- Yavapai Food Policy Council
- Flagstaff Food Link
- Arizona School Garden Network
- Arizona Farm to School Advisory Council
- Arizona Hunger Leadership Council
- University of Arizona Center for Regional Food Studies
- Arizona Young Farmers Coalition
- Healthy Local Food System Working Group