History of the Elkhart County Food Council

The Elkhart County Food Council emerged from the Elkhart County Foodshed Initiative.  In 2014, Purdue University selected Elkhart County as one of only two Indiana counties for this pilot program with the goal of strengthening local food systems.

The Elkhart County Food Shed Initiative assessed and convened stakeholders involved in local food networks related to issues and topics that cover the full food shed spectrum including healthy soil, sustainable agriculture, food access, education and a healthy community.  A grant was then obtained to conduct an economic study by Ken Meter including Elkhart County and the surrounding seven county regions.

Food network stakeholders were then interviewed to explore what the greatest need was for them to be successful.  The overwhelming need was to promote opportunities to connect with other stakeholders.  A mission and vision were defined.

Research showed that a Food Council model could be most effective.  Purdue Local Foods Coordinator Jodee Ellett was instrumental as we moved forward with this model.   Community thought leaders were convened to condense seven areas of focus that we had identified down to three.  These three focus areas led to defined Core Values and objectives.

In May of 2017, the Food Council officially kicked off with a well-attended event at the Matterhorn in Elkhart, featuring Ken Meter as guest speaker along with thirteen local vendors. Monthly meetings occurred with a defined topic and guest.  These meetings included an open time encouraging community stakeholder connections.  Interns have provided logistical help at times; however it has proven difficult to maintain momentum without a defined coordinator. Consistent leadership and funding have been identified as priorities to provide direction and sustainability. 

ECFC is working to foster collaboration with St. Joe and Marshall Counties.  A Regional Food Council could create efficiencies for the individual Food Policy and Access Councils in our counties.  The Elkhart County Food Council is involved in statewide Food Council collaborations as well.

 

Core Leadership Over Time

2014 — Elkhart County Foodshed Initiative

  • Dale Hess (Academia)

  • Kurt Bullard (Farmer)

  • Mike Yoder (Policy/Govt)

  • Phil Metzler (Community Organizer)

  • Phyllis Miller (Health)

 

2015 — Transition to Food Council model

  • John Sherck (Farmer)

  • Jon Zirkle (Academia)

  • Katie Janzen (Seed to Feed)

  • Kurt Bullard (Farmer)

  • Mike Yoder (Policy / Govt)

  • Natasha Kauffman (Communications)

  • Phil Metzler (Community Organizer)

  • Phyllis Miller (Health)

  • Twila Albrecht (Intern)

 

2016

  • Janet Katz (Community Organizer)

  • Jeff Burbrink (Purdue Extension)

  • Jesseca Chatman (Public Health)

  • John Sherck (Farmer)

  • Jon Zirkle (Academia)

  • Mark Mikel (Pantry)

  • Melanie Sizemore (WICC)

  • Phyllis Miller (Health/Leadership)

  • Suzy Weirick (Policy/Govt)

 

2017

  • Anne Thiel (Naturopath)

  • Dan Nofziger (Health Dept)

  • Goshen College Interns

  • Jeff Burbrink (Purdue Extension)

  • Jesseca Chapman (Public Health)

  • Jon Zirkle (Academia)

  • Kyle Hannon (Chamber)

  • Mark Mikel (Pantry)

  • Melanie Sizemore (WICC)

  • Mike Yoder (Policy/Govt)

  • Morgan Short (Seed to Feed)

  • Natasha Kauffman (Communications)

  • Paul Steury (Environment)

  • Phyllis Miller (Health/Leadership)

  • Rick Zeeff (Blue Zone, Beacon Health)

  • Sherry Wenger (Nursing)

  • Suzy Weirick (Policy/Govt)