“As Chair of the Food Policy Council, Spike Mendelsohn will spearhead efforts to promote the food economy”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr.TinDC

From the Mayor’s office:

“Mayor Bowser announced the appointment of D.C. based restaurateur and chef Spike Mendelsohn to chair the District’s newly created Food Policy Council (FPC).

“Spike’s leadership will be a tremendous asset to the D.C. Food Policy Council,” said Mayor Bowser. “The District’s food landscape has changed dramatically over the past decade. Policy makers, non-profit service providers and other sectors of the food system should be equal partners in our efforts to create a nourished D.C. I look forward to Spike’s leadership and expertise as we work collectively to transform our food system.”

As Chair of the Food Policy Council, Spike Mendelsohn will spearhead efforts to promote the food economy and entrepreneurship, improve food access and equity in all 8 wards, and promote urban agriculture and production.

“My professional career revolves around food and healthy food choices in the home and in my restaurants,” said Chef Mendelsohn. “Food choice and preparation starts at home. Families decide what’s on the menu at home based upon what is offered in the supermarkets, quality of food offerings and more importantly, costs. If more families were educated on the impact of food choice, I think that we could reduce obesity and other food-related illnesses. My goal is to increase food education and access to quality food which are the key to healthy food choices.”

The Food Policy Council and Director Establishment Act of 2014 enabled the creation of the Food Policy Council. This legislation will go into effect on March 10, 2015. The FPC is tasked with promoting the food economy and entrepreneurship, improving food access and equity in all 8 wards, and promoting urban agriculture and production. The Food Policy Council will create an annual report on the state of the local food economy, regulatory and policy barriers, best practices on food access, and funding priorities. The FPC is composed of 13 representatives from the nonprofit and for-profit worlds involved in the local food economy or food access as well as 10 government agency non-voting members. The FPC will set 4 working groups focused on local food business and labor development; food equity, access, and health and nutrition education; sustainable food procurement of locally grown food; and urban agriculture and food system education.”

32 Comment

  • Is this a joke? There’s absolutely no one else who was better for the job?

  • “My professional career revolves around food and healthy food choices in the home and in my restaurants,” said Chef Mendelsohn. Some examples:
    -BIG STUFF BACON MELTDOWN, from Good Stuff Eatery: Double Patty, Lots’a Bacon, Double Cheese Ruby Tomato, Onions,Lettuce & Pickles With Good Stuff Sauce
    -COLLETTI’S NOTORIOUS BBQ, from We the Pizza: Slow Roasted Pulled Pork with Colletti’s Award Winning BBQ Sauce, Cheddar & Crispy Onions

    Why not Mike Curtin from DC Central Kitchen?

  • I’m proud to say that I’ve never seen a single episode of Top Chef or eaten at any of his restaurants.

  • The picture is more interesting than the press release. I wonder if that’s Mr. T’s own library??

  • Pretty sure We the Pizza gave me food poisoning right before I took a week-long trip into a war zone. Was not a fun experience.

  • Emmaleigh504

    I keep reading “As Chair of the Food Police Council…”

  • Oh geez. That’s all I got.

  • This makes no sense. The council chair is suppose to be elected by the food policy council. There isn’t even a council yet.

  • Spike is a fraud. His menus are nonsense and there should be a legit investigation into consumer fraud if what he is selling is different than what he buy. What the crap is a farm fresh egg and dairy fresh cheese? Not frozen? .

  • This sounds like some kind of way for Mendelsohn to get more food into his restaurants at a lower cost. Or something.
    It sure as hell isn’t about anyone getting better access to food. An effort like that would be a whole lot easier to describe than what’s in this tortured press release.

  • I don’t know a thing about Spike Mendelsohn, but I want these bookshelves! Where can I get these bookshelves?

    • those are ISS design quad poles with very nice looking shelves. I have the same system and while installing it is truly awful they look great and are very space efficient.

  • jim_ed

    So the guy who slings mediocre crap thats terrible for you exclusively in some of the whitest parts of town is now being appointed to lead a charge to get healthy food options into underserved neighborhoods?

    Okay. Glad we got that cleared up. Carry On.

  • How did DC ever survive this long without a “Food Policy Council?”

  • Of all the things that DC could and should spend money on! Promoting food equity? What does that even mean? A brussel sprout has the same rights and access to plates as a mango? Urban agriculture? If DC really wanted to promote urban agriculture, it would designate more land to go to this. By my own observations of the amount of development, I would say DC isn’t prioritizing this or community gardens. This project smells of lobbying by those with money who want access to the right people for their own goals.

  • He’s an odd choice for the chair, but it seems obvious to me that DC should have a food policy council. National Geographic had a good story on what exactly they do, and why they are important to cities. You can read it here.

  • clevelanddave

    I’m confused. 1) Has Mendelsohn ever worked in/with government or actively participated in a council/board like this? It seems having a basic understanding of how these things work and what they can/cannot accomplish is important 2) It is still unclear what the purpose is. Is it to encourage healthy eating by kids in schools, like the Obama’s program drilled down to a local level? If so that at least has a focus, even if Mendelsohn has no background in schools, nutrition, etc, still he could be a role model of some kind if he were willing to put in the time. Is it to encourage food entrepreneurs in the District? If so it is confusing and Mendelsohn would seem to have a lot of conflicts of interest. Again, this could be interesting- for example streamlining the approvals process, creating lists of qualified vendors, assisting with financing and tax credits, creation of rating systems (for example A-D ratings like in California), assisting with the emergence of community kitchens (like Union Kitchen), the donation of foodstuffs/inkind to Central Kitchen and elsewhere, dealing with infrastructure issues like cold storage, participation in local/regional/national food competitions, etc. The release and appointment raise far more questions than it answers.

    • Presumably the role of chair is mostly to get attention and the (paid) Food Policy Director in DDOE will do the actual heavy lifting. As far as the purpose of the council, here’s hat Cheh said when she proposed it.

      Food Policy Council and Director would grow the local food economy and expand access to food
      WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Councilmember Mary M. Cheh (D – Ward 3), author of the Healthy Schools Act, introduced a measure that would create a Food Policy Council and Director for the District. In the past few years, the District has passed important food policy legislation like the Healthy Schools Act, the Healthy Tots Act, the FEED-DC Act, and the Cottage Food Act. These acts have expanded the availability of affordable, nutritious food and have helped develop local food businesses. Having a Food Policy Council and Director would build on these successes by adopting a more comprehensive approach to food policy. The Food Policy Council and Director would grow the local food economy and expand access to food by identifying ways to reduce regulatory burdens, collecting and analyzing relevant data, engaging with other jurisdictions, and assisting participants in food ventures.
      “We need a central actor in the District government to promote positive food policy,” said Cheh. “With these positions, we can better identify existing shortcomings in current policy, more effectively promote food objectives across various agencies, attract new food businesses to the District, and better engage with other jurisdictions. A Food Policy Council and Director is the most efficient structure for achieving these goals.”
      Cheh’s legislation recognizes the importance of a uniform approach to a policy area that has become increasing complex. Food Policy Councilmembers and the Food Policy Director would be community members and business leaders with expertise in issues of food access and development. Together, they would build what has already been accomplished and allow the District to continue developing and implementing progressive food policy to benefit all residents.

      • Thanks for posting this. It gives my memory a little prompt back to something I think I heard on WTOP a few weeks ago. They were interviewing Mary Beth Albright, who is one of their regular food correspondents, and I think she was saying that she was hoping to be appointed to this panel. She’s a lawyer dealing with food issues and was on The Next Food Network Star a couple years back. I’d way rather have her running this than Spike, but maybe she’ll end up getting appointed somehow. (I don’t know her personally but she does seem sincerely interested in the issues.)

        • My pleasure. It’s funny you should mention Ms. Albright. I actually posted a link to a blog post of hers on nationalgeographic.com explaining why Food Policy Councils are a good idea, but my comment is awaiting moderation. If you google you’ll find it though. After reading that post, it seems obvious to me that our government should have such a council. Still not sure about Mendelsohn as chair, but I don’t know much about the guy.

  • How can we just stop this nonsense now? Seriously – this is embarrassing. Brianna? Anyone? Please don’t let us continue to be – and appear to the world – ridiculous.

  • justinbc

    Nothing like taking cues on the changing DC food scene from the guy who shit talked everyone who made it relevant before him. Oh and serious LOL @ healthy food choices in his restaurant from the “chef” who makes burgers and pizzas. I think the only person in DC who blows more smoke up their ass than Spike just died recently (RIP “Mayor for Life”).

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