Profile: JoAnne Berkenkamp

JoAnne Berkenkamp

Local Food Program director, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

In 2007, the Whittier-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy launched its Local Foods Program, giving the global advocate for fair trade, sustainability and healthy foods a stronger presence in its home city.

The program and its director, JoAnne Berkenkamp, are already changing the way Minneapolis eats — by fostering more than 20 mini farmers markets in underserved neighborhoods, for example, or through a program that allows farmers market vendors to accept EBT, the electronic form of federal food stamps. In 2009, Berkenkamp was invited to serve on the Homegrown Minneapolis steering committee.

Most rewarding, she said, has been watching the growth of IATP’s Farm to School initiative, which connects small- and medium-sized farms with school lunchrooms across the state. More than 120 school districts served some local vegetables, fruits, meats or grains in 2010, up from just 10 in 2006, and Gov. Mark Dayton recently declared September “Farm to School Month.”

Berkenkamp’s involvement in the local foods movement goes back to the 1990s when, while working as an independent consultant, she was hired by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to evaluate local food initiatives all across the country. At that time she met IATP founder Mark Ritchie, and vowed to one day work for the nonprofit.

She called IATP “an amazing vantage point for seeing what’s happening in the local food world across the country, as well as locally.”

“I feel like we’ve reached a tipping point,” she added.