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Rebekah Williams to Join HEAL School of Political Leadership

MAP's Youth Education Director Rebekah Williams has been selected for the HEAL Food Alliance 2017-2018 School of Political Leadership cohort.  This is HEAL's first ever cohort, which will support 10 talented individuals working to create inclusive, democratic food and farm systems.  Rebekah looks forward to this year, as she continues to work at MAP leading the effort to bring the Good Food Purchasing Program to Buffalo, while participating with HEAL to connect local food policy work and people to efforts going on around the country.

For the last five years, Rebekah has worked with youth and the community at MAP exploring connections between racial and economic injustices in food systems, incorporating passion for nature and the environment, and encouraging young people to speak up individually and collectively.  Her leadership style is to develop relationships with people on the ground, especially young people, and create platforms for them to bring attention to their own interests and experience.

Since 2013, Rebekah has represented MAP and Buffalo at the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG) It Takes a Region conference in Baltimore MD, Hartford CT, and Saratoga Springs NY.  At NESAWG, she has participated in the People of Color Caucus and is a co-founder of NESAWG's Youth Track, which has brought over 200 young people, ages 14-25, to the conference from food justice organizations throughout the northeast.

In 2015, Rebekah was on the team that brought the USDA Farm to School Planning Grant to Buffalo Public Schools, helping to establish the Buffalo Farm to School Initiative, the Farm to School Chef Challenge, and Taste Test Thursdays.  In 2015, she was a co-founder of a major food systems event called The People’s Food Movement, which is now a semi-annual event in Erie County that engages the public in having a say on policy issues in their own communities.  In 2013, Rebekah supported MAP youth in advocating and securing two seats for youth on the newly forming Food Policy Council for Buffalo & Erie County, and she continues to support the young members serving on the council today.

Rebekah is MAP's representative on the Crossroads Collective, building a coalition around the Good Food Purchasing Program, a comprehensive set of tools, technical support, and resources to support public institutions in shifting toward a procurement model that focuses on five values:
  1. Local Economies,
  2. Nutrition;
  3. A Valued Workforce;
  4. Environmental sustainability; and
  5. Animal Welfare.
Her work at the Crossroads Collective also involves building support for black and brown growers, and training the community in Movement Generation's Just Transition framework, philosophy, and the new economy.

Rebekah looks forward to developing new relationships and engaging in policy work with the HEAL Food Alliance and this year's SoPL cohort.  She is eager to connect with organizers, and farm and food systems workers nationwide.  She hopes the opportunity will be a catapult for efforts to bring the Good Food Purchasing Program to Buffalo.

In 2018, the HEAL School of Political Leadership (SoPL) sessions will take place in California, Ohio, Mississippi, Massachusetts, and an additional location that is to be determined.  To learn more about HEAL and the HEAL SoPL, visit http://healfoodalliance.org/.

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