REAP Food Group was originally founded under the name Dane County Research, Education, Action and Policy on Food Group. A diverse group of academics, elected officials, and citizens concerned about food issues came together to discuss galvanizing civic engagement through local sustainable food.
Planning for the Food For Thought Festival begins. For the first time, all of the passionate people and groups engaged in sustainable food work presented together publicly, raising awareness of what it means to build a sustainable food system.
REAP volunteers created the Farm Fresh Atlas in partnership with the UW Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS) and the Dane County Farmers’ Market. The online version launched in 2017 at farmfreshatlas.org.
A growing understanding and awareness of local food and sustainability combined with local coalitions, tasks forces, and staff helped us add more annual events like the Buy Fresh Buy Local program and Farm to School programs. We also changed our name and officially became REAP Food Group, no longer an acronym.
We still do our work with the help of volunteers, and provide a voice for the movement working to grow a food system that is environmental and economically sustainable. Our commitment to connect eaters, producers, buyers, community members, and policy makers – to nourish the links between land and table - is as strong as ever.
Helen Sarakinos is a seasoned advocate and organizer for issues that impact our community’s kids, citizens, food, and water. As a program and Policy Director of River Alliance of Wisconsin for 15 years, she worked with residents, businesses, farmers, municipalities and legislators across the state to protect access to clean water and to ensure citizens have a say in decisions about how to use it. Helen received her master’s and bachelor’s degrees from McGill University in Montreal. She lives on the near east-side of Madison with her husband Jake, son Milo, and daughter Kyra, where they try to get everywhere by bike as much as possible, rarely miss the weekly farmers’ market and jealously guard their front yard peaches from covetous neighbors every fall.
Amy first found her passion for local food as an Economic Development Consultant at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture. While there, she teamed with nearly 100 organizations throughout Wisconsin to build the State’s Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin program and co-led the efforts to launch the first statewide Farm to School effort. Prior to that, Amy learned the ins and outs of our food systems through sales and brand management positions with Fortune 500 food companies. Since leaving the State, she started her own consulting business where she helped farmers, food businesses, and organizations propel the growth of Wisconsin food by offering, financial, marketing and project management support. Amy has a passion for bringing good food to good people and believes in doing work that has lasting, measurable results. When Amy’s not at work you can find her chopping vegetables and chasing butterflies with her kids, and planning her next National Park vacation.
Hannah started as REAP’s Communications Director in August 2015. As the communications guru, she is responsible for promoting REAP’s programs and events via social media, newsletters, web and graphic design. She has a Master of Public Health from UW-Madison and a graduate certificate in health communication from the University of Sydney in Australia. Hannah is passionate about food systems change and its potential to decrease the incidence of heart disease, diabetes and obesity. She supports increased transparency in food marketing and policy changes which can improve food justice by ensuring people have the knowledge and resources they need to regain power in food decisions. Prior to REAP, she held marketing roles at several healthcare organizations including the American Parkinson Disease Association, and most recently Dean & St. Mary’s. Hannah enjoys playing ultimate frisbee, practicing yoga and paddle boarding in her free time.
Natasha began managing REAP’s Farm to School Program in August 2013. She runs the weekly REAP Snack Program and works closely with the Madison Metropolitan School District Food and Nutrition Department to increase and promote district purchasing of locally-grown fruits and veggies. Originally from Gloucester, Massachusetts, Natasha grew up romping the oceanside but has come to love the countryside almost as much. After attending college in Rhode Island, Natasha moved to Madison for graduate school, studying local and sustainable food systems at UW-Madison. She believes that the health of both our children and our farmers is crucial and loves that farm to school bundles the interests of students, families, farmers, communities, and environments. In her spare time, she likes growing things, throwing things, the outdoors, and good company.
Ross became REAP’s Farm to School Program Coordinator in the beginning of 2017. In this role Ross supervises REAP’s Farm to School AmeriCorps members and oversees the logistics of Family Food Fest and the summer food program. Coordinating the Farm to School program allows Ross to share his passions for education, healthy eating, and sustainable agriculture. Ross’s prior experiences include; Manager of the Monona Farmers Market and teaching middle school in the Verona Area School District. Ross has his Masters of Arts in Education and has started multiple school gardens and edible forests. In addition to farm to school education, Ross loves gardening, hiking, cooking, curling, fishing, playing volleyball and ultimate frisbee, and being a Badger.
Convinced that every vibrant organization needs a stable base, Susan has honed her financial and organizational skills at a number of Willy Street businesses, including Nature’s Bakery, Red Caboose Day Care Center, and most recently, TDS Custom Construction. After years of raising sheep and living on a community-run vegetable farm in southern Dane County, she is now enjoying the pleasures of life in on the near east side. And while she has traded in her sheep for a pair of zebra finches, she continues to be fascinated by fiber arts in all forms, often trailing yarn and knitting needles into staff meetings and spending evenings stitching colorful art quilts. She also enjoys canning tomatoes in the fall, hanging out with her retired sheepdog Bella, and nurturing an ever-expanding collection of plants in her sunny river-view windows.
JILL JACKLITZ (Chair)
Director of Education, University of Wisconsin, Center for Patient Partnerships
DREW HOWICK (Vice-Chair)
Founder, Howick Associates
NAN PETERSON (Secretary)
Child Health Advocacy Program Director, American Family Children’s Hospital
STEVE STUMBRAS (Treasurer)
Director of Sales and Solutions, Purple Cow Organics
Vice President & Division General Counsel, Spectrum Brands
Director of Strategy and Innovation, UnityPoint Health – Meriter
Madison Food Policy Council
Assistant Director – Public Policy, Michael Fields Agricultural Institute
Senior Attorney, Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau
Cheesemaker/Farmer, Landmark Creamery and Windy Fleece Farm
Community & Economic Development Educator, Dane County UW-Extension
SUSAN TROLLER COSGROVE
Author, Journalist, Owner of Cluck the Chicken Store