In recent weeks, I’ve written to you several times about momentum in the food movement. The urgency of food system transformation is gaining ground—gaining visibility and support like never before—and we have to meet the moment. We can’t miss this opportunity, I’ve said.
As we look forward to 2023, we can’t just talk about the momentum of the food movement. We need to act upon it. How do we meet the moment? How do we avoid squandering our chance to protect our climate and feed our communities?
This is our challenge over the coming year, and we can only tackle these questions with your support. I hope you’ll look at our plans for 2023 in this note and then join Food Tank as a member to support the growing food movement.
Food Tank is in an unprecedented position to support the growing global movement toward food and agriculture systems change. We’ll continue to engage our vast networks and push for change to increase our impact in these spaces, and we’re grateful for your support.
Our 2023 strategy continues to build on our core philosophy, filling critical gaps in seven issue areas not yet adequately addressed by the food movement.
Here’s a snapshot of what you can expect from us in the coming year:
1. Engaging U.S. Policymakers and Policy
Our perspective on this issue: Food Tank fosters meaningful educational programming for policymakers and staff on food and agriculture issues. In the coming year, we strongly believe that the food movement is uniquely positioned for bipartisan cooperation in the current political environment—where many other issues face stalemate in a divided Congress.
Where we were this year: In 2022, we hosted dialogues and made policy recommendations in the lead-up to the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health; played a critical role in educating policymakers and coalition building around the Food Donation Improvement Act which is now awaiting President Biden’s signature after passing in the U.S. House and Senate; and much, much more.
What we’re planning for the coming year: In 2023, we expect to host a record amount of programming on Capitol Hill. Food Tank is looking forward to discussions around hunger in higher education, the release of a new policy report on the intersection of food and technology, forums on the blue food economy, and the coordination of an event to recognize the wisdom of Indigenous foodways. Plus, the Farm Bill is once again up for discussion this year, and we’re planning events around regenerative agriculture in light of this important legislation that sets U.S. food policy for the next five years.
2. Engaging Global Decision-Makers
Our perspective on this issue: Thanks to an incredible coalition of partners, food and agriculture are finally receiving long-overdue recognition as critical solutions to the climate crisis. Food Tank is seeing historic momentum on an international scale, including the first-ever Adaptation and Agriculture Day at the U.N. Climate Change Conference, or COP27, in Egypt, and the prominence of four pavilions focused entirely on food and ag systems.
Where we were this year: In 2022, Food Tank was the only organization that curated official programming across all four of these pavilions at COP27, where we bought together more than three dozen panels that featured nearly 150 speakers.
What we’re planning for the coming year: Food and agriculture systems receive only 3 percent of climate finance but constitute more than 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions—so there’s plenty of work ahead. In 2023, Food Tank’s strategy focuses on broadening year-round educational programming for U.N.-level negotiators. We are also planning a series of events in the lead-up and during NYC Climate Week and the U.N. General Assembly and a substantial growth in our engagement, impact, and footprint on the ground at COP28, in Dubai.
3. Engaging the Private Sector and Food Business
Our perspective on this issue: Through Food Tank’s influential network of Chief Sustainability Officers from more than 150 food businesses, we convene top sustainability executives every month to discuss trends, review case studies, learn from guest speakers and one another, and identify opportunities to act as a coalition. The network is invite-only with no membership fees or dues—to ensure a level playing field—and participating companies range from the world’s largest food brands to some of the most impactful mission-driven businesses.
Where we were this year: In 2022, our CSO coalition has helped Food Tank keep a finger on the pulse of sustainability opportunities within the private sector, which bolsters our partnerships and our ability to showcase best practices. Some examples: We co-curated the Niman Ranch annual Hog Farmer Appreciation Summit in Des Moines; collaborated with Bowery Farming on programming supporting urban agroecology; worked with Google to host a major conference in Chicago on the pitfalls and opportunities at the intersection of food and technology; joined forces with Compass Group and WeightWatchers to highlight ways to reduce food loss and waste.
What we’re planning for the coming year: In 2023, we’re expanding this group to include more global stakeholders. We plan to welcome sustainability leaders from the world’s 50 largest food companies along with 10 innovative, small-scale, mission-driven brands from each continent.
4. Engaging Educational Leaders and Academic Research
Our perspective on this issue: Building partnerships with academic institutions is essential in the effort toward food system change. These relationships help young people discover how their talents and passions can transform the food system; the inspiring youth I’ve met this year have all given me immense hope for the next generation of food leaders. At the same time, these vital academic partnerships help folks of all ages and careers, from farmers to food workers to eaters, understand their relationship with food in new ways and stay on the cutting edge of research.
Where we were this year: In 2022, we launched a peer network of faculty and department directors that meets bi-monthly and represents disciplines including food, nutrition, and environmental studies, as well as nursing and medicine, marketing, anthropology, labor, religious studies, and much more. In this network, we’ve actively sought to include voices from a wide range of institutions, including land-grant universities, liberal arts colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, tribal colleges, and community colleges. Food Tank has also partnered on events with key academic institutions such as The Ohio State University, North Carolina State University, University of Illinois-Chicago, Spelman College, the University of the District of Columbia, and more.
What we’re planning for the coming year: In 2023, we plan to grow the group to include academic stakeholders representing all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The group will engage campaigns to address hunger in higher education, amplify sustainability best practices, and host academic dialogue to highlight new research. Food Tank will also continue to partner with academic institutions to host Summits around the country, including our recently-announced events with the University of Washington, New York University, and Huston-Tillotson University, an HBCU in Austin.
5. Engaging Audiences Through Film, Theater, and Culture
Our perspective on this issue: Food Tank has always invested energy in elevating food and agriculture issues in entertainment. We learn about the world through the media we consume, the books we read, the movies and plays we watch. Food is connected to everything—which is why the food movement can be so powerful—and we find both joy and growth in sharing food in cultural spaces.
Where we were this year: In 2022, Food Tank partnered with Little Herds and The Cook’s Nook to host eight days of official programming at the SXSW festival plus film screenings, which featured more than 150 speakers. We also co-curated programming at other critical events including Expo East, GreenBiz’s The Verge, the Edible Institute, the World Food Prize, and the U.N. COP27 conference, where we co-hosted screenings of the forthcoming film “Food 2050” alongside The Rockefeller Foundation and Media RED.
What we’re planning for the coming year: Following the success of our 2021 climate-themed original musical “WeCameToDance”—which sold out a three-week run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland—we’re excited to announce a new production commissioned to be performed at SXSW 2023. Called “Little Peasants,” the original production is an immersive theatrical journey behind closed doors of a food-worker unionizing campaign. Additionally, Food Tank will be at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, where we’ll curate three days of educational programming and film screenings, including events alongside celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern’s new docuseries “Hope In The Water.” We’re also planning educational food-related screenings in conjunction with the 2023 Seattle Film Festival, and much more.
6. Engaging Readers and Listeners via News and Publishing
Our perspective on this issue: One of the most important ways we reach millions of readers—and highlight stories of hope and success in food and agricultural systems—is through original research, articles, and perspectives we publish regularly on our website and in your podcast feeds.
Where we were this year: In 2022, we’ve continued to amplify our editorial work through our Apple Podcasts chart-ranking show “Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg.” Additionally, Food Tank’s recently revamped newsletter reaches more than 170,000 food stakeholders every week—with engagement having more than doubled since last year—and our social media engagement tops 1 million followers across all platforms.
What we’re planning for the coming year: In 2023, we will continue to shine a light on best practices, showcase food system opportunities and trends, and break stories around agriculture other media outlets aren’t covering. To amplify this work, we’ll continue to expand our existing partnerships with major media organizations including Forbes, InterPress Service, and many others, while also continuing to engage with food and agricultural journalists to moderate our events and lead discussions with our working groups. In the coming year, we also plan to begin hosting “Food Talk LIVE” recordings of our podcast, revamp our website, and much more.
7. Engaging Grassroots Membership
Our perspective on this issue: Food Tank’s work is only possible because of our global network of members who support our work to push for food system transformation. Folks know their own communities best, and our movement is infinitely stronger when we’re guided by locally rooted perspectives. That’s why we’re proud to be a member-driven organization.
Where we were this year: In 2022, Food Tank began regular members-only webinars with luminary guest speakers including Marion Nestle, Chloe Sorvino, and others. These opportunities will continue—and expand—in 2023.
What we’re planning for the coming year: Food Tank members will see a revamped membership program, annual renewal surprise gifts, and exclusive member networking events in Chicago, Washington DC, and New York City starting in Spring 2023.
In short, as we go into 2023—we are only as strong as you and the broader food movement. Food systems are the key ingredient to solving all of our most pressing societal challenges, and Food Tank is committed to acting on the momentum of the food movement.
If you’re in this fight with us, please join Food Tank by CLICKING HERE. We have several membership levels to fit what you’re looking for, and we’re hopeful and grateful to continue this important work alongside you.
Together, we can achieve anything. Together, we’ll build a more sustainable food system.
Articles like the one you just read are made possible through the generosity of Food Tank members. Can we please count on you to be part of our growing movement? Become a member today by clicking here.
Photo courtesy of Markus Spiske, Unsplash