North Central Michigan College and the Local Food Alliance will host the 3rd annual Around the Table conference for farmers, food producers, health care providers, educators and local food lovers on Wednesday, October 28 from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m.


The conference will be held in the Iron Horse Café and Conference Center on the Petoskey campus.

The conference, Around the Table: Local Food & Community Health, will focus on the connection between eating fresh local foods and improving our health.

Speakers will highlight some of the innovative ways people in our region are connecting farmers to senior centers, getting fresh local produce into hospitals, adding local foods to the school menu and curriculum, providing farm-food vouchers for income-eligible citizens and supplying food pantries with farm market gleanings.

This is a free event, but preregistration is required.

Keynote speaker Laura McCain, medical dietician and chef at Munson Medical Center, has created innovative programs to bring fresh local foods to patients and employees.  McCain will discuss easy ways to incorporate more local foods into the healthcare setting.

Presenter and nurse Chris Scott recently piloted a farm-to-senior program at the Friendship Center.

“Most people don’t know how much is happening in our area to get fresh foods to the people who need it.  It’s inspiring to learn about these programs and to realize we can do a lot more to improve access to healthy foods,” says Scott.

Other speakers include farmers and representatives from the school system, health department, farm markets and the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians.

Each will discuss how they connect local foods and improved health in their work and personal lives.

After a light local foods dinner, speakers will be available at the break-out sessions to provide details about their programs and answer questions.

The goal of the conference, according to Local Food Alliance organizers, is that people leave with an understanding of the connection between local foods and community health, and the tools to make a change.

Sponsors include: Institute for Sustainable Living, Art and Natural Design (ISLAND), Grain Train Natural Foods Market, Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation, Michigan State University Extension Service, Friendship Centers of Emmet County and Munson Medical Center.

The Local Food Alliance which began in 2012 as a discussion group at North Central Michigan College, has been a driving force in the ever-growing presence of small, locally-marketed food and farm products around the area.

Farmers, health care providers, educators, food processors, and all those interested in healthy local foods are encouraged to attend.  The event is free, but advance registration is required to insure enough food and materials.  Tickets and information are available at or by calling 231-348-6613.