The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Food Policy Council consists of a Director and a Board of Directors which relies on a Panel of Experts to guide its strategic planning and activities. We believe that by working together, we can build a better food system for our community.
Colleen Hammelman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences at UNC Charlotte. Her research and teaching address questions of social justice in urban food systems with a focus on food security, migrant communities, and urban agriculture. She received her PhD in Geography and Urban Studies from Temple University in Philadelphia, an MA in International Affairs from American University in Washington, DC, and a BA in Political Science from Colorado State University. In her free time, you’ll likely find Colleen with her husband and two sons digging in their backyard garden or out exploring our region’s greenways and hiking trail.
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Kenya Joseph was born and raised in New York City and her compassion for humanitarian aid, advocating for underserved communities has led her to her current role as President and Co-Founder of Hearts and Hands Food Pantry, a nonprofit organization that was founded in 2017 and has been a mainstay of the greater Charlotte and surrounding areas since inception. Kenya has over 20+ years of corporate finance experience and other proficiencies that have helped ffed over 5,000 families and has fostered long-lasting, invaluable relationships with individuals throughout the community. During the height of Covid-19, Kenya used the resources of her food pantry to help fight homelessness and provide additional community resources, and exponential need in and around Charlotte. Kenya looks forward to expanding her work in the nonprofit sector and continuing to build community partnerships that will transform the heart of Charlotte.
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Jalah Clayton, MPH
Jalah joined the Food Policy Council in 2021 as a Program Director. In this role, she strives to grow our programs to meet more of the needs of our community by helping make fruits and vegetables more accessible while supporting local farmers. Her passion lies in building capacity in communities by leveraging local assets and resources to better engage and empower community members. She believes that everyone should be supported in the pursuit of holistic health by prioritizing economically feasible options for preventative health care and disease prevention. Jalah is also a recent graduate of UNC Greensboro (Go Spartans!) where she achieved her MPH concentrated in Community Health Education. and an alumni of UNC Chapel Hill (Go Tar Heels!), where she obtained her BA in Exercise Science and Sociology. During her time at UNCG, she earned her Certification as a Health Coach and CrossFit Level 1 Trainer. In her leisure time, you can find Jalah exercising, making and/or eating delicious food, and spending time with her family.
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Iris Cheng, MD FACP
Panel of Experts, Community Liaison
Iris Cheng is a primary care internist and medical educator with a deep interest in food insecurity and health outcomes. Through her work with Atrium Health’s Community Health Division, she was instrumental in introducing processes for screening and addressing food insecurity within her healthcare system . She also helped develop an emergency food pantry at Biddle Point Clinic as well as a mobile food pharmacy supported by One Charlotte Health Alliance, a collaborative effort between Atrium Health, Novant Health and the Mecklenburg County Health Department. A graduate of Stanford University and University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, Iris is Professor of Medicine at UNC School of Medicine Charlotte Campus, Atrium Health and has committed her career to caring for underserved patients while working on ways to improve community health. Iris enjoys spending her free time with her two grown daughters and husband, and also enjoys cooking, more recently baking pandemic friendly sourdough bread.
External Affairs Chair
As a native Charlottean, Shannon has always been engaged with the non-profit sector. Her work at the American Heart Association as the VP of Health Strategies for the Charlotte Region aligns nicely with the CMFPC’s work for many reasons, one of which is that the AHA is committed to nutrition security, making sure that everyone can afford and access the right amount and the healthiest foods. Shannon is most excited about the collaboration to build intervention strategies that drive policy, systems and environmental changes. Before joining the American Heart Association, she worked for the YMCA of Greater Charlotte. This is where she truly learned the value of community based partnerships and was mentored by true servant leaders. Shannon is also a certified Health & Wellness Coach and is currently working toward being Nationally Board Certified. Outside of work, you’ll find Shannon most interested in cooking, gardening, traveling and spending time with her family.
LaToya Faustin is a passionate executive who has devoted her entire career to empowering underserved populations, LaToya Faustin has used her background in business and education to support upward mobility efforts here in Charlotte for the past 8 years. She is now the Chief Operating Officer at She Built This City where she is a staunch advocate for workforce development pathways and access to the construction industry for women and non-binary individuals in our community.
Mary Jayne Wilson
External Affairs Committee
Mary Jayne Wilson is the chef/owner of Thoughtful Baking Company, a pop-up farm to table bakery that is focused on being a positive part of the local food system. She is a Johnson and Wales graduate with a BA in Food Service Mgt and an AS in Baking and Pastry. She is a mom of three girls and has been in the Charlotte food industry for over 16 years in various chef positions and director of operations for a large local bakery before beginning her own business.
External Affairs Committee
Latoya Mallard, MPH is the Project Manager of the One Charlotte Health Alliance (OCHA) Mobile Food Pharmacy. The food pharmacy addresses food insecurity by providing vulnerable community members access to nutritionally balanced groceries. The program bridges the gap between health and nutrition by providing community members access to healthy food and nutrition education. Latoya is a graduate of Winston-Salem State University with a BS in Healthcare Management and a Master’s in Public Health from Lenoir-Rhyne University. She has a strong passion for developing health programs to prevent chronic disease among vulnerable populations.
Christina Benton, owner and Chief farmer, comes from a family of “backyard farmers.” She has been growing food and raising chickens for her family and immediate community for many years. She learned many of her farming skills through trial and error and through many hours of research, classes, and being mentored. After serving many years as a college professor and a forensic death investigator, Christina wanted to change focus. At the same time she was acutely aware of the many injustices (denial of access to basic needs based on rage, gender, and more) that were happening both in her immediate community and throughout society at-large. She then turned her love for growing food and her drive to be an advocate for food justice and access to basic human rights, into an entrepreneurial endeavor and Janco Community Farms was born.
Janco Community Farms is an Urban Farm serving the Charlotte Metro area. Our primary goal is to assist in closing food inequality gaps, eradicating food deserts in urban areas, invest in disinvested communities and share knowledge with the community on food growing and sustainability practices.
Former Board Chair (2019-2021)
Kimberly joined CMFPC in January 2019 and has enjoyed being part of an organization working to positively impact our local food system. In 2018, she returned from spending a year and a half traveling abroad with her husband, Daniel, where she deepened an interest in helping to create more sustainable food systems in the US, particularly focused on waste reduction and healthy food access. This interest led her to CMFPC as well as to her current role at Merchants Distributors, a local wholesale grocery distributor, as Director of the Growth Office, where she is responsible for the strategic growth portfolio of the company.
Kimberly is most happy when spending time with her husband and young daughter, traveling, being outdoors, cooking, or participating in events and activities around Charlotte. She loves being connected to the community around her, so reach out anytime!