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.
Alyssa started as REAP’s Communications Director in May 2018. As the communications guru, she is responsible for promoting REAP’s programs and events via social media, newsletters, web and graphic design. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in 2011 and since then, has been a writer and editor with newspapers in southcentral and northeast Wisconsin. Most recently, she was the Arts, Literature & Entertainment Editor for the Peninsula Pulse newspaper and editor of Door County Living magazine, both in Door County, Wisconsin. Working in the local food movement has been a longtime dream of Alyssa’s, and she is excited to use her communications background to share with the masses REAP Food Group’s mission of nourishing the links between land and table. In her spare time, find her biking, hiking, gardening, painting, making soy candles and going on adventures with her husband, Brad.
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.
DREW HOWICK (Chair)
Founder, Howick Associates
JILL JACKLITZ (Vice-Chair)
Director of Education, University of Wisconsin, Center for Patient Partnerships
TRACY KUCZENSKI (Secretary)
Senior Attorney, Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau
CRAIG DREIKOSEN (Treasurer)
Director of Strategy and Innovation, UnityPoint Health – Meriter
Vice President & Division General Counsel, Spectrum Brands
Madison Food Policy Council
Assistant Director – Public Policy, Michael Fields Agricultural Institute
Director of Sales and Solutions, Purple Cow Organics
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
Those who are multilingual and/or multicultural, members of racial/ethnic minority groups, and persons with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply.