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Saturday, January 16, 2021

Fifth Annual Rhode Island Food System Summit to be held Jan. 20

URI to host 2021 food summit with focus on food access during a global pandemic

Dawn Bergantino

With a depressed economy, rising unemployment and multiple logistical challenges posed by a global pandemic, food insecurity in the state of Rhode Island and beyond has risen to levels not seen in decades. 

On Wed., Jan. 20, at 9 a.m., the University of Rhode Island will host its fifth annual Rhode Island Food System Summit, “Taking the Lead: Improving Food Access in a Global Pandemic,” to discuss how the pandemic has affected our state and our nation’s food security and what steps can be taken to address this crisis. The three-hour event will be live-streamed. Registration is required.

The event will feature a keynote address from Viraj Puri, chief executive officer of Gotham Greens, on how his company promotes economic growth and opportunity in urban, low-income communities. 

URI Associate Professor of Nutrition and Food Sciences Alison Tovar and graduate student Fatima Tobar Santamaria will present their work on understanding the experience of food access stakeholders during the pandemic. 

Panels will include discussions on the role of higher education and state government response in addressing the growing crisis of food insecurity in Rhode Island. 

Speakers from across the regional food and health ecosystem will address a range of topics, including successes and lessons learned during the pandemic and how we can take what we’ve learned to support those in need around the world.

The Rhode Island Food System Summit is sponsored by the URI Business Engagement Center, the URI College of the Environment and Life Sciences, the URI College of Health Sciences, the Rhode Island Department of Health and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. Advanced registration is required. For more information, contact: Sharon Pavignano at (401) 874-5124 or at

WHO:    URI President David M. Dooley; Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (recorded remarks); Ana Novais, deputy director, Rhode Island Department of Health; Kenneth Ayars, chief, Rhode Island DEM Division of Agriculture; community organizations, local businesses and many more. Visit the Rhode Island Food System Summit for a full agenda and speaking program.

WHAT:     The fifth annual Rhode Island Food System Summit, Taking the Lead: Improving Food Access in a Global Pandemic

WHEN:    Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, 9 a.m. – noon

WHERE:    This year’s Rhode Island Food System Summit will be held virtually. Advance registration is required.