Next Forum

Photo by Kathryn Moran Photography

Fall Forum

The People That Make the Food System Work

Wednesday, November 14, 2018
2:00 – 5:00 p.m.
BelleWood Acres, 6140 Guide Meridian, Lynden


The Whatcom Food Network is excited to take a peek into the world of workers, the foundation that enables our food system to function. The 2017 Community Food Assessment revealed wide gaps in knowledge around the challenges and opportunities for those working within each sector. This Forum is an opportunity to learn more.

The Fall Forum will include a presentation by Michelle Stelovich from the NW WA Central Labor Council. Michelle will present on current employment and labor data from our region and facilitate a panel of workers from different sectors including distribution, processing, farming, and consumption (grocery). Employees will have time to share stories and experiences from their day-to-day work.

Laura McWilliams from Industry Health, will shine a light on the unique challenges faced by chefs, cooks, dishwashers and other working in the “back of house.”  And Sara Southerland from Sustainable Connections, will share a short overview of the food and farm business owner’s lens: the opportunities and challenges involved in retaining a strong workforce.

Join us for an exploration of Washington and Whatcom employment data, a health and wellness worker perspective, and what it’s like from the inside.



2:00 – 2:10 Welcome!
2:10 – 2:15  

WFN Introduction & Updates


2:15 – 2:45 Facilitated Networking
2:45 – 3:00 Owners & Employer Lens

Opportunities and challenges in retaining a strong workforce.

Sara Southerland, Sustainable Connections

3:00 – 3:50 Overview of Labor Across the Food System & Employee Panel

Data from Washington & Whatcom County and individual stories from workers from different sectors including processing, grocery, and farming.

Michele Stelovich, Northwest Washington Central Labor Council

3:50 – 4:00 Break
4:00 – 4:25 On A Knife’s Edge
Three of the top challenges that over 2,000 back of house restaurant employees in Whatcom County face and solutions we can all be a part of.Laura McWilliams, Industry Health
4:25 – 4:55 Small Group Discussion
4:55- 5:00 Closing Comments
5:00 – 5:30 Optional Happy Half Hour & Informal Networking

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