Community Food Systems Mentor Profile: Rich Pirog

The Community Food Systems Mentorship Program offers Network members the opportunity to work directly with a food systems expert to support their growth, learn best practices, and connect with seasoned food movement leaders. 

Rich Pirog, former Director for the Center for Regional Food Systems at Michigan State University (MSU) through spring 2022 – currently enjoying life while doing a bit of food systems consulting 

About Rich: 
I have more than 40 years of experience in agriculture, food systems, and sustainable agriculture.  Before coming to MSU in 2011 I was at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture (Iowa State University) for 21 years, where I developed food system initiatives, statewide food system networks and ran a state-wide food systems grant program. The work at the Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) has both a Michigan and national scope.  CRFS staff work in food hubs, farm to institution, local and state food policy councils, racial equity and food justice, food business entrepreneurship, food and farm business financial management and record keeping, farm to early childcare education, food systems networks, and food system workforce assessment. I have been the corresponding author for the nine editions of the Annotated Bibliography on Structural Racism present in the US Food System.

Areas of Expertise

  • Organizational management
  • Leadership development
  • Building food system networks
  • Racial equity in the food system
  • Developing and implementing statewide food system plans and charters

Seeking to Mentor

Interested in working with food system leaders who are in the first few years or managing their organization or project, and who have an interest and passion for using an equity lens in all aspects of their work.  Most (but not all!) of the leaders I have mentored in previous years were working at universities/colleges and/or with Cooperative Extension.

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