Last Thursday, February 23, SOFSA hosted Civic Engagement 101: Engaging Public Officials About Your Food System! The training workshop – co-created by Maura Ackerman, Mary Carney, and Ellen Pitstick – brought together 37 participants looking to learn more about how to communicate their ideas around food issues and hear from some of our own public officials. Attendees came with all different prior knowledge and personal experiences with talking to government officials, giving us a chance to learn from presenters and each other alike.

Together we heard from NYS Senator Rachel May, Onondaga County Legislator Dave Knapp, and City of Syracuse Commissioner of Neighborhood and Business Development Michael Collins. They shared some of their own experiences with the food system, gave us pointers on how to best contact officials at different levels of government, and informed us that what we have to say truly matters when it comes to decision- and policy-making. All three officials stuck around to hear participants share about the food issues they care about and identify some of the rules and regulations that impact them the most. 

Throughout the evening we learned the basics of connecting food issues with policy work and how to craft our own messages to effectively share with public officials and ask for change. An unexpected fire alarm even taught us the importance of thinking on our feet and adapting quickly while working to build a better food system! 

We left the workshop feeling empowered, inspired, and “fired up” about working with our public officials!

If you would like to learn more about how SOFSA is seeking to change the food system through policy work, check out our 2023 Policy Platform. To join SOFSA’s Policy & Planning Committee, visit our Get Involved page.