Annual Feast Down East Conference to Provide Variety of Opportunities for Farmers, Consumers

Friday, February 05, 2016

The campus of UNCW is once again the site of the annual Feast Down East Regional Conference. In its 6th year, the event will take place from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 12 in the Burney Center.

Feast Down East (FDE), also known as the Southeastern North Carolina Food Systems Program (SENCFS), was established in 2006 to join public and private agencies together to provide local, fresh food choices directly to consumers, area restaurants, grocers, schools, hospitals and other institutions. UNCW is the lead agent for SENCFS and the campus has served as the sole venue for the event since its inception.

“Through university partnerships and community engagement, Feast Down East aims to create an economically viable system that puts local food on the plates of the citizens of southeastern NC,” said Executive Director Jane Steigerwald.

Local leaders, including UNCW Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli and New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Vice-Chairman Jonathan Barfield Jr., will welcome conference participants. As the keynote speaker, Samina Raja, a leader in urban and rural planning and development, will discuss the role of planning and policy in building sustainable food systems and healthy communities.

Throughout the day, participants can learn how to best support limited-resource farmers, where and how to buy local foods and learn how a strong local food system can be a driver for economic growth. In addition, there will be a Community Foods Expo, a fresh seafood cooking demonstration and a screening of The Last Barn Dance, a documentary about a dairy farm struggling to survive.

Locally sourced breakfast and lunch will be prepared by UNCW Executive Chef Ryan Andress, Sous Chef Jon Michael Rehm and their team. FDE will also recognize food movement supporters with stewardship and advocacy awards.

“Campus catering is devoted to our local farm communities,” said Steigerwald. “We are appreciative of their great support.”

Members of the public may register for the event through Feb. 11. For a complete schedule of events and to register, visit All registrants are encouraged to bring at least one non-perishable food item to be donated to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC.

-- Caroline Cropp