On May 9, the Sustainable Food Center will present its first-ever Sustainable Food Changemakers Award — a new tradition honoring an individual or group of individuals who have contributed to SFC’s mission. The award, honoring the Meredith Family, will be part of the annual Farm to Plate event, to be held Thursday at the historic Barr Mansion.
Former Dell executive Tom Meredith, his wife Lynn and their son, Will, made SFC a partner in their project to improve access to healthy, affordable food on Austin’s East Side by donating land and infrastructure for SFC’s new home in the mixed-use space being developed by Meredith Family Investments. The site is centrally located in East Austin, SFC’s target area of service, adjacent to the Capital MetroRail MLK station.
Will Meredith met Ronda Rutledge, executive director of SFC, more than five years ago. At that time, Will and his family had been involved in redeveloping the old Featherlite tract in central East Austin, meeting with community members and gaining insight into what the neighborhood wanted in this transitional area.
Will was impressed by the depth of SFC’s programming and invited SFC to be part of his emerging Social Profit Village, which first included PeopleFund and will be complete with the addition of Creative Action.
“SFC has fundamentally changed the conversations at my family’s table by empowering us to support our local food system through engaging our community in a more honest and meaningful conversation about where our food comes from and the power our decisions around consumption have," he says.
SFC’s new space will include more than 7,000 square feet for a two-story training facility and 2.3 acres of green space across the MLK MetroRail line for community and teaching gardens.
“Lynn and Tom Meredith have been available for consultation and guidance along the way, but it is Will who has taken meeting after meeting, advocated with the city as development began, facilitated gathering of neighborhood members to get input, educated the White House about SFC and the entire Transit Oriented Development project, and literally and figuratively cleared the weeds in order for SFC to lay down our roots and flourish in our first permanent space,” says Rutledge.
“By providing a path for Sustainable Food Center to finally build our center, the Merediths have empowered us to sustain ourselves long-term and further our mission in Central Texas and beyond. We can now put invaluable unrestricted resources toward program expansion and improvement,” Rutledge continues. “We are overjoyed with Will’s partnership and his family’s dedication to a strong, local food system.”
As of today, SFC has raised more than 80 percent of its $4.5 million goal to build the new training facility and teaching and community garden. To donate, or for more information, visit the SFC Sustainable Growth website. A limited number of tickets to the Farm to Plate dinner are still available.