McAuliffe announced Nov. 20 the creation of the Commonwealth Council on Bridging the Nutritional Divide. The council will seek to achieve three major objectives, using a public-private approach and relying on the commonwealth’s vibrant agriculture sector. It will be chaired by first lady Dorothy McAuliffe, a longtime supporter of giving more Virginians, especially children and young adults, access to nutritious, affordable and locally sourced foods.
The council’s objectives will be to eliminate childhood hunger in Virginia by increasing participation in nutrition assistance programs; promote Virginia’s leading industry—agriculture—and increase access to affordable, healthy and local foods; and facilitate efficient and effective local initiatives related to community nutrition, food access and health strategies and programs.
“This is good news for Virginia agriculture and for the citizens of Virginia,” said Spencer Neale, director of commodity marketing for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation and chairman of the Virginia Food System Council. “All three objectives are areas where we can make a positive difference in Virginia. With the first lady leading the effort, the chances of really achieving meaningful results over the next three years are greatly enhanced.”
The council will develop a three-year plan to achieve its objectives and will consist of representatives from five different state agencies and a broad range of public- and private-sector stakeholders appointed by the governor.
“We are excited about the opportunity to work with the first lady and other stakeholders on this initiative,” said VFBF President Wayne F. Pryor. “Agriculture in Virginia is diverse, dynamic and cutting-edge, and our farmers understand the critical role that they, and the foods they produce, have in all these areas.”