December 8, 2020
IFSL Program Director Discusses Sustainable Solutions with National Dairy Council
Nourish Dialogue Dinners resulted in thoughtful discussions that uncovered a hopeful perspective
For an industry as vast as the one that produces the world’s milk and cheese, there are many options and ideas about improvements to ensure it continues to help the food system sustainably feed billions worldwide for years to come. The Nourish Dinner Dialogues highlighted that a greater understanding provides the potential for solutions that can lead to a flourishing future with healthy people living on a healthy planet.
In 2019, the National Dairy Council collaborated with local dairy councils to launch a year-long Nourish Dialogue Dinner series. The hosted 25 small group dinners attended by nearly 300 stakeholders. Representatives across the food system, in fields of agriculture, retail, policy makers, researchers and educators, producers, and more, focused on conversation and insights to advance sustainable food systems. The vision was to deepen understanding, build relationships, and ignite momentum for greater impact together.
Dinners took place coast-to-coast and resulted in an engaging exchange of ideas and relationship building. Analysis was done on the themes and topics that emerged from the dinner conversations, and three main calls to action were identified. Set the Record Straight, Embrace Comprehensive Sustainability and Be Solutions Oriented.
Nourish Dinner calls to action were highlighted at the 2020 virtual Dairy Sustainability Alliance Fall Meeting event which featured discussions led by Dr. Jennifer van de Ligt - director of University of Minnesota’s Integrated Food Systems Leadership (IFSL) program and the Food Protection and Defense Institute. Dr. van de Ligt works with food producers and manufacturers to analyze and understand the vulnerabilities of our complex food system. She uses her expertise and learnings from her interactions as she leads the IFSL program mission to prepare food system leaders to feed the future.
As Dr. van de Ligt shared at this year’s Dairy Sustainability Alliance Fall Meeting event, the IFSL program addresses both the social and economic factors of providing an equitable and just food system for all. The program explores the entire food system from farm to fork through courses addressing production and processing, regulation and policy, food security and safety, and the business of food. Throughout the 14-month online program, the cohort explores many aspects, such as demographics of the current food workforce, food deserts, access to food assistance, production and distribution of culturally appropriate foods, and more. The IFSL program is uniquely designed to meet the needs of early to mid-career professionals through meeting the students where they are, being adaptive to their needs, and providing flexibility while maintaining academic rigor. The program leverages the individual expertise students bring to the program to extend the formal coursework through the use of large and small group projects where there is an ability to more fully explore issues of interest.
Listen here to Dr. van de Ligt speak at the Dairy Sustainability Alliance Fall Meeting and to hear insights from the other food system leaders.
The National Dairy Council’s full report from the Nourish Dialogue Dinner can be found here, which highlights grassroots efforts to improve community health and well-being, including examples in farming and food production, food security and access, food waste and recycling, and educating and empowering the next generation of food systems leaders.
Like the IFSL program, the Nourish Dialogue Dinners resulted in thoughtful discussions that uncovered a hopeful perspective — a greater understanding provides the potential for solutions that can lead to a flourishing future with healthy people living on a healthy planet.
Integrated Food Systems Leadership (IFSL) Program
Designed for working professionals, the IFSL program is a unique graduate certificate program that fosters leadership, collaboration, and innovation across the food system. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Download a program brochure or schedule a consultation call for more information.