Representatives from more than 100 organizations will gather in Phoenix to accelerate the improvement of the state’s food system this Thursday and Friday. The 2017 Arizona Food Summit is part of the ongoing work between the Department of Agriculture and the Arizona Department of Health Services to reduce food insecurity in the state.

Connecting Arizonans to healthy food helps them achieve a healthier way of life. Food insecurity—not knowing if you’ll have food to eat—is a barrier. Young children without healthy food face developmental issues. School age children cannot concentrate and have difficulty learning without a balanced diet. Adults concerned about how they will find healthy food may be limited in the type or how much work they can do. By connecting people with healthy food, Arizonans can prevent and fight chronic diseases and realize their goals as parents and individuals.

The Summit starts on Thursday with a half-day session where participants will engage with Vitalyst Health Foundation’s 2017: Year of Health Communities program. On Friday, 11 speakers will engage attendees to inspire them to set realistic and far reaching goals.

A new council will be announced Friday that will begin coordinating and connecting current work, while researching best practices from other states and encouraging innovation in Arizona’s system. Nine members will make up the council from four areas: agriculture, emergency food agencies (such as food banks), equity in the food system (from producers to consumers), and economic development for a long-term solution.

You can learn more about the 2017 Arizona Food Summit online.