La Crosse County Farm-to-School Coordinator
La Crosse, Wisconsin
Josh began working on food and nutrition issues in 1999 as an intern with the Berkeley Farmers' Market, and served as the first coordinator of Farm Fresh Choice, a program based out of that market and designed to make high-quality, locally grown, fresh produce available and affordable for residents of limited-income Berkeley neighborhoods. The program is essentially a Community-Supported Agriculture program based on wholesale (as opposed to retail) purchasing from local farmers. After completing graduate study in U.S. agriculture and nutrition policy, and food systems at UC Berkeley, Josh began as an analyst for University of California Cooperative Extension, Alameda County. There, he worked with community-based organizations and local governmental agencies to design and improve programs focused on increasing access to, and consumption of, high-quality fruits and vegetables in limited-income neighborhoods. Josh has since left UCCE and relocated to the Upper Midwest, but remains interested in developing policies and programs that create direct connections between growers and consumers—especially at the community level—as a method of improving diet and reducing diet-related health disparities among at-risk and limited-income populations. His primary focus is on creating economic relationships and new business models that do not easily fit within current mainstream retail food markets and that provide economic livelihood for growers while eliminating cost as a barrier for consumers. Examples of the kinds of projects Josh tries to promote include extending the capacity of farmers markets through coordinated, bulk purchasing; developing new wholesale direct markets and cooperative distribution networks that serve small- and medium-scale growers; developing business plans for school districts to implement Farm to School cafeteria programs while decreasing cost:revenue ratios; and creating community-based height-of-season food preservation programs.