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Panel 3

Climate Change and Food Justice

2 pm3:30 pm
Sister Jean Multipurpose Room South

This session will address the need to build local and equitable food systems that ensure everyone can procure and grow healthy, sustainable produced food. Panelists will discuss what communities, organizations, and individuals are doing to address these issues in the Chicagoland region.

Panelists

Rodger Cooley

Executive Director, Chicago Food Policy Action Council

Rodger Cooley, executive director of the Chicago Food Policy Action Council (CFPAC), has worked for over 20 years in urban agriculture and sustainable, equitable food systems, helping facilitate policy and projects. Cooley previously spent nine years with Heifer International, supporting the development of urban and rural farming projects in Chicago and the Midwestern United States. CFPAC supports community partners across the food system to build trust for collaborative systems change. CFPAC's team and community partners advocated for and directly supported the implementation of the Good Food Purchasing Policy (GFPP) in the City of Chicago, Cook County, and local health care and higher educational facilities.

Cooley serves on the Cook County Commission on Social Innovation, the Chicago Food Equity Council, the Illinois Local Food Purchasing Agreement Advisory Committee, and the Illinois Agriculture Equity Commission. He has a master's degree in urban planning and policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a bachelor's degree from Oberlin College. He has served as adjunct faculty at DePaul University and the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Alex Poltorak  

Distribution Lead and Operations Lead, The Urban Canopy    

Alex Poltorak is the distribution lead and operations lead with The Urban Canopy. Within these roles, he coordinates transportation logistics and distributes local and non-local organic produce to commercial customers. Founded in 2011, The Urban Canopy works to create a more sustainable and equitable food system in Chicago. The organization includes growers, distributors, composters, and community members who seek to positively impact the city’s environment, people’s health, and the local economy. The organization strives to make healthy produce accessible to all, reduce the miles fresh food travels, keep food waste out of landfills, and create and maintain local jobs. 

Bweza Itaagi 

Co-Owner, Sistas In The Village 

Nyabweza “Bweza” Itaagi is an urban farmer, community cultivator and horticulturist. Raised in Colorado’s Denver metro area, Bweza moved to Chicago in 2015 to pursue a master’s degree in sustainable urban development at DePaul University. In both Denver and Chicago, she has worked with a range of organizations focused on urban agriculture, community empowerment, and Earth stewardship. As a first-generation Ugandan American, she seeks to incorporate traditional African diasporic farming practices in Chicago. She views farming as a spiritual practice with the ability to heal communities and grow collective power. In her work, she seeks to bridge intercontinental Black communities to build solidarity and resilience. She co-owns Sistas In The Village farm and is the steward for the Englewood Nature Trail and Agro-Eco District

Mecca Bey 

Co-Owner, Sistas In The Village 

Mecca Bey’s extensive background in the medical industry and her passion for helping empower people led her to begin her journey dedicated to helping rebuild communities through a healthy lifestyle and social and economic change. She also pursued her other passion of learning how to farm organically so that she could teach our children the importance of growing their own food organically and teach communities about a sustainable life in urban farming. Mecca spends her time taking care of her family, writing, and enjoying life on her terms. Today, Mecca is living her purpose as a wellness coach, healing circle keeper, community outreach leader, urban farmer, and co-creator of Sistas in the Village farm. She is also a speaker, engaging people about health and wellness as it relates to land, farming, and community. 

Additional panelists to be announced soon. 

Climate Change and Food Justice

2 pm3:30 pm
Sister Jean Multipurpose Room South

This session will address the need to build local and equitable food systems that ensure everyone can procure and grow healthy, sustainable produced food. Panelists will discuss what communities, organizations, and individuals are doing to address these issues in the Chicagoland region.

Panelists

Rodger Cooley

Executive Director, Chicago Food Policy Action Council

Rodger Cooley, executive director of the Chicago Food Policy Action Council (CFPAC), has worked for over 20 years in urban agriculture and sustainable, equitable food systems, helping facilitate policy and projects. Cooley previously spent nine years with Heifer International, supporting the development of urban and rural farming projects in Chicago and the Midwestern United States. CFPAC supports community partners across the food system to build trust for collaborative systems change. CFPAC's team and community partners advocated for and directly supported the implementation of the Good Food Purchasing Policy (GFPP) in the City of Chicago, Cook County, and local health care and higher educational facilities.

Cooley serves on the Cook County Commission on Social Innovation, the Chicago Food Equity Council, the Illinois Local Food Purchasing Agreement Advisory Committee, and the Illinois Agriculture Equity Commission. He has a master's degree in urban planning and policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a bachelor's degree from Oberlin College. He has served as adjunct faculty at DePaul University and the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Alex Poltorak  

Distribution Lead and Operations Lead, The Urban Canopy    

Alex Poltorak is the distribution lead and operations lead with The Urban Canopy. Within these roles, he coordinates transportation logistics and distributes local and non-local organic produce to commercial customers. Founded in 2011, The Urban Canopy works to create a more sustainable and equitable food system in Chicago. The organization includes growers, distributors, composters, and community members who seek to positively impact the city’s environment, people’s health, and the local economy. The organization strives to make healthy produce accessible to all, reduce the miles fresh food travels, keep food waste out of landfills, and create and maintain local jobs. 

Bweza Itaagi 

Co-Owner, Sistas In The Village 

Nyabweza “Bweza” Itaagi is an urban farmer, community cultivator and horticulturist. Raised in Colorado’s Denver metro area, Bweza moved to Chicago in 2015 to pursue a master’s degree in sustainable urban development at DePaul University. In both Denver and Chicago, she has worked with a range of organizations focused on urban agriculture, community empowerment, and Earth stewardship. As a first-generation Ugandan American, she seeks to incorporate traditional African diasporic farming practices in Chicago. She views farming as a spiritual practice with the ability to heal communities and grow collective power. In her work, she seeks to bridge intercontinental Black communities to build solidarity and resilience. She co-owns Sistas In The Village farm and is the steward for the Englewood Nature Trail and Agro-Eco District

Mecca Bey 

Co-Owner, Sistas In The Village 

Mecca Bey’s extensive background in the medical industry and her passion for helping empower people led her to begin her journey dedicated to helping rebuild communities through a healthy lifestyle and social and economic change. She also pursued her other passion of learning how to farm organically so that she could teach our children the importance of growing their own food organically and teach communities about a sustainable life in urban farming. Mecca spends her time taking care of her family, writing, and enjoying life on her terms. Today, Mecca is living her purpose as a wellness coach, healing circle keeper, community outreach leader, urban farmer, and co-creator of Sistas in the Village farm. She is also a speaker, engaging people about health and wellness as it relates to land, farming, and community. 

Additional panelists to be announced soon.