A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, but it also involves the second, third, fourth, and many more steps. Here are some thoughts and ideas about the issues and practicalities of working together to grow the Oklahoma Food network. Economics
If our organization is not economically viable, we will only be a passing fad. How can we make our concept economically viable? The organization will only be as strong as its customer and producer members. How can the organization contribute to the economic security and the quality of life of customers and producers? What products are not currently available through our service that we need to find? What information, skills, and structures do customers and producers need to participate more effectively and with greater benefit to them?
Help us explore ways to keep this good local food available to low income people. Members could donate funds to scholarship low-income members and give money to buy local food to give to local food security charities. Members can designate the charity, or leave it to our discretion. In this regard, we need a "Food Stamp Application coordinator". Now that we have started operations, we want to apply for permission to participate in the food stamp program. We need someone to accept responsibility for heading up that process, and also to figure out what we need on our end in order to accept and process the electronic benefit cards. Contact Robert Waldrop, firstname.lastname@example.org
or 405-605-8088 about this.
Help us explore ways to be practical and effective stewards of the environment. For example, on down the line should we buy our own set of dishes and forks, spoons (etc) and table cloths, and use them for our Celebrations of Oklahoma Food? We eventually will own one or more refrigerated trucks. Could we manage to develop the small scale infrastructure necessary to run those trucks on biodiesel we would make from Oklahoma grown vegetable oils, like cottonseed oil?
Research and development
We need to find, review, and redact the best information we can find on the advantages of local food. Much of this has already been done by the FoodRoutes organization, but we need help to go through this material and identify important "info bytes" that we can use in our outreach materials. We also need to further research, refine, and then present the economic, ethical and moral arguments in favor of local food in appropriate forums and media. We should be very eclectic in this outreach, and develop materials suitable for all the various groups that might be interested in what we have to offer. All people of good will are welcome at the Oklahoma Food table.
What regulatory challenges are we likely to meet? What do we need to do now to ensure our ability to comply with present or future regulatory issues?
This is important for both customers and producers. How does the organization know what the members need to know? Where do we find the answers to those questions? How do we present that information to them? This involves practical things like how to order, or how to present your products to customer members, and seasonal and event menu planning and recipes.. It also involves providing information about the values and ethics of our organization (in particular, our core values of economic viability, environmental sustainability, and social justice) and the cooperative movement throughout the world.
This is likely to be our most effective advertising/outreach activity. Members can host an Oklahoma Food dinner or party. This could be a small event in your home, or a big event for your church, school, group/service organization, or workplace. We can develop and publish menus and recipes, for both large and small groups, for such activities. "Meatloaf for One Hundred" is easier than you think. With our delivery service, it would be relatively easy to come up with local ingredients for menu items, and we could prepare handouts to give to the people who attend that explain why Oklahoma food is important and how they can get involved.
This organization is owned by its members. How can we encourage members to accept a sense of ownership? All of us belong to various organizations and communications media. We can look for appropriate ways to introduce the subject of local food. We can invite an Oklahoma Food speaker to talk to church groups, social clubs, service clubs, classes, or other organizations. We can include information about our organization in newsletters.