JBF Leadership AwardsYou’ve no doubt heard of the James Beard Foundation Awards, known to many as the Oscars of the food world. This year, the JBF is launching a series, called the JBF Leadership Awards, to “recognize visionaries in the business, government and education sectors responsible for creating a healthier, safer, and more sustainable food world.” The inaugural winners are Will Allen, Fedele Bauccio, Debra Eschmeyer, Sheri Flies, Jan Kees Vis, Fred Kirschenmann, First Lady Michelle Obama, Janet Poppendieck, Alice Waters, and Craig Watson. While the Foundation is famous for recognizing the best chefs in the country, the new awards aim to honor “game-changing pioneers” in the U.S. food system, says James Beard Foundation President Susan Ungaro.

Honorees were chosen by an advisory board comprised of a dozen experts from diverse areas of expertise. The Leadership Awards recognize specific outstanding initiatives as well as bodies of work and lifetime achievement. The winners will be honored on October 12th in New York City with a special ceremony and dinner prepared by James Beard Award-winning chefs Michel Nischan and Anne Quatrano during the second annual James Beard Foundation Food Conference.

2011 James Beard Foundation Leadership Awards Honorees

Will Allen, Founder and President, Rainbow Farmer’s Cooperative and Founder and CEO of Growing Power: For his lifelong work as a farmer and community activist dedicated to supporting low-income and small family farmers who bring healthy, affordable food to urban areas.

Fedele Bauccio, CEO, Bon Appétit Management Company: For his commitment to quality food and socially responsible food sourcing.

Debra Eschmeyer, Co-Founder and Program Director, FoodCorps: For addressing the issues of childhood obesity and diet-related disease through school lunch programs with the National Farm to School Network and her leadership of FoodCorps’ innovative programming.

Sheri L. Flies, Assistant General Merchandise Manager, Corporate Foods, Costco Wholesale Corporation: For her work on the Juan Francisco Project, which assessed the sustainability of the existing supply chain for French beans in Guatemala and determined how it affects the lives of farmers and their families, and for playing a key role in Costco’s efforts to integrate sustainable practices in its buying decisions.

Jan Kees Vis, Global Director, Sustainable Sourcing Development, Unilever: For his work in creating the Sustainable Living Plan at Unilever with clear goals of reducing waste, water use, and GHG emissions by 50% and achieving 100% sustainable sourcing by 2020, and for his industry-wide leadership in the Palm Oil Roundtable.

Fred Kirschenmann, Distinguished Fellow, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa State University and President of the Board of Directors, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture: For his lifelong work on sustainable food and farming systems.

First Lady Michelle Obama: For launching Let’s Move!, a comprehensive initiative dedicated to solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation.

Janet Poppendieck, Author and Professor of Sociology at Hunter College, City University of New York, and at the CUNY Graduate Center: For bringing issues of poverty, hunger, and food assistance to the forefront through her teaching and books, such as Sweet Charity? Emergency Food and the End of Entitlement and Free For All: Fixing School Food in America.

Alice Waters, Chef, Author, and the Proprietor of Chez Panisse: For her pioneering use of sustainable and local ingredients in food service and for the Chez Panisse Foundation’s work in creating the Edible Schoolyard program.

Craig Watson, Vice President of Sustainable Agriculture, Sysco Corporation: For his work to improve sustainable agriculture and integrated pest management (IPM) practices for Sysco’s food products; programs that have impacted over 921,000 acres of agriculture land.



Image from JBFfoodconference.org