Carolina Food Summit opens conversation on hunger, other issues

Calling all foodies — the first annual Carolina Food Summit begins on Wednesday. 

The summit will bring influential members of the North Carolina food community together to discuss important food-related issues and promote health and sustainability in the state. 

Nation Hahn, lead organizer of Carolina Food Summit, said the program has put together a powerful lineup of events. 

“We hope we’ve done a good job of pulling together a diverse group in an attempt to weigh topics that might otherwise go unheard,” he said. “It’s powerful when you can bring people together from every walk of life.”

He said he is excited to give people a chance to share, take action and create change for the future.

“We all play a role,” he said.

The summit will kick off with a storytelling event in Gerrard Hall, where local chefs and farmers from different food backgrounds will discuss the role of food in their lives. The summit continues on Thursday with events at Rock Quarry Farm.

“I think the program is so strong,” said Marcie Cohen Ferris, UNC professor and co-chair of UNC Food For All, a sponsor of the event. “I really love the community voices that are coming together.” 

Ferris said the symposium will deal with food-related issues such as hunger, food justice and food entrepreneurship. She said the summit hopes to foster increased conversation about a state food policy and committee in North Carolina.

“It’s really important to have someone that’s on staff all day thinking about issues such as hunger and affordable, nutritious food access for all citizens,” Ferris said.

She said the event has a lot to offer students aside from learning about the uniqueness and importance of North Carolina's food culture. She said it is a great opportunity to network and establish connections with the speakers and members of the audience, as over 40 chefs, writers, nonprofit leaders and experts will be present.

“I want them to know how vibrant the food community is in North Carolina and what an exciting career and professional opportunity exists within food-related issues," Ferris said. "And this is a fantastic, easy-to-get-to, great opportunity to meet leaders in these worlds."

The Terra Vita Food and Drink Festival starts the same day as the Carolina Food Summit and includes dinners, workshops and other events around Chapel Hill. Terra Vita is also helping to sponsor the summit. 

“We are always interested in all of those issues that relate to sustainability and food,” Colleen Minton, co-founder and director of Terra Vita, said. “We’re always looking for meaningful ways to connect with the community." 

Ferris said the summit is hoping to approach the conversations from a fun and interactive angle.

“That’s the point of this — to come together and work to break that traditional conference model and really engage and think through important questions about our North Carolina food world,” she said.

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