Update from the ED: July 2023

Beyond Our Programs: Engaging in the Food System

This season’s update from Shawn Menard, Seacoast Eat Local’s Executive Director, discusses the various external projects our staff are involved in.

If you’re reading this I’m sure you’re familiar with at least one of our main programs: Farmers’ Markets, Seacoast Harvest, SNAP, and Education Programs. Each one of these is very public facing and takes up the vast majority of our staff’s time to plan, execute, and adapt throughout the year.

What you probably don’t know is that our staff members are also involved in many external groups and projects, that is, things happening outside of our organization that are managed or facilitated by other organizations. 

Shawn with NH Food Alliance Members in May. Photo by Hanna Flanders, Kearsarge Food Hub.

I was reminded just how many amazing things our staff participated in over the past few months, myself included. Each of these involvements are important areas for us to spend time in because they enable us to network, collaborate, and become more aware of all the incredible work being done across the state, region, and country. We know that we will never truly succeed in our mission of building bridges between local food producers and consumers unless we make a concerted effort to be part of a greater whole (the food system). 

Here are some of the ongoing initiatives and groups at least one of our staff are involved in or have recently participated in:


In addition to these long-term initiatives, our staff has participated in several one-day events recently. These include the NH Food Alliance Statewide Gathering, NH Nonprofit Conference, Farm-a-Q, Taste – A Plates for Change event, and Service Credit Union’s Shred Day.

Ian Lupica, Market Coordinator, representing SEL at Taste – A Plates for Change event in June.

By actively engaging in these initiatives and events, we gain a wealth of valuable insights, exchange best practices, and contribute to the wider conversation surrounding local food systems. These experiences are not just fulfilling personally but also have a profound impact on our programs and the communities we serve.

As we journey forward, our commitment to fostering collaboration, amplifying our impact, and staying connected to the larger food system network remains unwavering. We understand that we cannot accomplish our mission in isolation. It is through partnerships, shared resources, and collective efforts that we can truly make a difference.

SEL staff from left to right: Morgan Morani, Celeste Gingras, Ian Lupica, Shawn Menard, Caroline Beaton, Ali Fleming

What can you do to help us grow the local food system and community?

  • Fill out this market shopper experience survey
  • Learn more about getting involved with our work
  • Engage with friends and family about the programs you love
  • Experiment with collaboration (in your line of work or life)

I want to express gratitude to all of you who continue to support SEL’s work. You are an integral part of our journey, and we are deeply grateful for your commitment to our mission.

Together, we can build a vibrant and resilient local food system that nourishes our communities and supports our farmers.