This year’s Western New York Connections Conference, organized by the Field & Fork Network brought together a wide constituency of participants for a chance to learn about local food and agriculture, sustainable food practices, policies pertaining to our food systems, and what we can do to create more functional food systems that help reach goals such as food sovereignty. The conference’s speakers and presenters were as diverse as the topics it covered. Dr. Oran Hesterman, one of the keynote speakers, spoke about increasing food access and promoting sustainable food practices through improvements of pre-existing policies, including programs like Michigan’s Double Up Food Bucks, which uses benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to simultaneously promote healthy eating and locally grown produce. Local farmers not only discussed their trades and their role in improving their food system, but also emphasized the importance of building bonds between food producers and food consumers so that we can develop a stronger sense of how our food systems work and build relationships with the people and places providing us with the foods we eat. One of the Food Lab’s own, Alex Ruch, also gave a presentation on how understanding food culture can be used as a tool to better understand and strengthen food systems.