November 9, 2022 – Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association (MFMA) announced today that MFMA Executive Director, Kathy Zeman, will serve as the chair of Minnesota’s Food Innovation Team (FIT) for 2022-2023. FIT was created in 2018 as a subcommittee of the Minnesota Food Safety and Defense Task Force to help answer questions and assist food business owners in navigating Minnesota’s food licensing and regulatory environment.
While many food business entrepreneurs and owners navigate through the licensing process with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), or other delegated agencies with relative ease, the process can be complicated. There are occasions when challenges in licensing occur for a variety of reasons. When they do, FIT is there to answer questions, assist with complicated problems, and create paths for licensing needs.
“We have thousands of very creative food entrepreneurs in Minnesota,” states Zeman. “FIT provides the ability for these entrepreneurs to get advice on how to resolve the complicated licensing process when they get stuck navigating food licensing laws in Minnesota. FIT provides a critical service for our rapidly growing food industry.”
Zeman has served as the executive director of the Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association since 2012 where she has helped build strong collaborations with diverse groups and has paved the way for successful public policy efforts. She is also the owner of Simple Harvest Farm Organics in Nerstrand, Minnesota, and a trainer for the important Blazing Trails Through the Jungle of Food Regulations training program in Minnesota. She begins her duties as chair of FIT this month.
Jane Jewett, associate director of the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA), was the inaugural chair of FIT, having served for the past four years, and is credited in large part for its launch and success. “The case studies that we have reviewed in the past several years show the depth and variety of issues FIT faced,” says Jewett. “This committee is very important as we look to support and encourage food entrepreneurs to step into this space, make it through the process, and enhance our local foodshed. Food entrepreneurs who encounter licensing challenges sometimes give up, and we want to make sure systems are in place so there’s support to find a way forward instead.”
FIT meetings are held every other month and are open to everyone. Case studies on previously reviewed scenarios and additional information on Minnesota’s Food Innovation Team (FIT) can be found at: https://mn.