The New England State Food Systems Planners Partnership (The Partnership) announces the recent hire of Sarah Axe as the New England Feeding New England (NEFNE) project manager to help increase the amount of food consumed in New England that is produced in New England to 30% by 2030.

Sarah Axe, New England Feeding New England Project Manager
Sarah Axe, New England Feeding New England Project Manager

The Partnership is composed of six leading NGOs (Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, Maine Food Strategy, the New Hampshire Food Alliance, the Massachusetts Food System Collaborative, Connecticut Food System Alliance, and the Rhode Island Food Policy Council) responsible for supporting the development and implementation of their state’s food system plan, and is part of the Food Solutions New England (FSNE) regional network. The Partnership recently launched the New England Feeding New England Project, bringing together businesses, organizations, community leaders, and state agencies working to build a more sustainable food system across New England and to develop a plan to strengthen the viability and resilience of the region’s food economy.

The planning process will develop production milestones, identify policy opportunities, and recommend investments that can expand and fortify the region’s food supply and distribution systems to ensure the availability of adequate, affordable, socially, and culturally appropriate products under a variety of rapidly changing climate, environmental, and public health conditions. The goal is to increase the amount of food that is produced and consumed in the region so that by 2030, 30% of the food consumed in New England is produced within New England.

Axe is responsible for implementing and overseeing the New England Feeding New England project. She previously worked as a consultant to public and private entities working on food systems projects, such as the Good Food Purchasing Program and Double Up Food Bucks. Prior to consulting, she worked in the City of Austin’s Public Health Department as the Food Access Coordinator, where she managed a portfolio of healthy food access initiatives. Axe holds a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs from the University of Texas LBJ School of Public Policy.

“Having just moved back to New England from living in Austin, TX for 10 years, I am excited to put my program management, strategic analysis, and relationship building skills to work in this region and focus on this important food security project,” said Axe. “As we saw from the crop devastation in Texas due to recent climate change induced freezing weather last winter, and the food supply chain issues it caused, each region of the U.S. needs to be more self-reliant for a greater percentage of its own food supplies. Doing so will make us less vulnerable and more nimble to respond to climate change and pandemic caused food supply disruptions.”

Axe said the NEFNE project is currently looking for farm and food systems researchers who bring a strong equity lens to their research, who reflect the geographic, age, gender, racial, and ethnic diversity that make up our region, and who are interested in being part of a team that will explore how New England can meet 30% of its food needs within the region over the next 10 years.

“We are so excited to add Sarah to the NEFNE project team,” said Ellen Kahler, executive director of the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund (VSJF), which administers Axe’s employment on behalf of The Partnership. “While her work will focus on the entire New England region and expanding consumption and production of our regionally produced food supply, this work will also help us in achieving many of the Priority Strategies developed as part of the Vermont Agriculture and Food System Strategic Plan 2021-2030.”

In February 2021, VSJF and the Vermont Farm to Plate Network released the Vermont Agriculture and Food System Strategic Plan 2021-2030. The Plan contains a vision for Vermont’s food system in 2030, 15 strategic goals with 87 objectives, and 34 priority strategies (recommendations for action). It is based on a series of 54 food system product, market, and issue briefs highlighting current conditions, bottlenecks and gaps, opportunities, and recommendations. Among the briefs is the Food Security Issue Brief, which recommends the creation of a food security plan and greater emphasis on a regional food supply, both goals of the NEFNE project.

To learn more about NEFNE and the project’s mission, visit nefoodsystemplanners.org.

About the New England Food System Planners Partnership:

The New England Food System Planners Partnership comprises six statewide organizations including Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, Maine Food Strategy, New Hampshire Food Alliance, Massachusetts Food System Collaborative, Connecticut Food System Alliance, and Rhode Island Food Policy Council, who each work to strengthen their state’s food system. The project was launched through a public-private partnership with funding from The John Merck Fund, the Henry P. Kendall Foundation, and the USDA Regional Food System Partnership grant program. Funding for this project was made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service [grant agreement ID 6000016070]. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA.