On July 22, 1999, in Birmingham, Alabama, author and activist John Egerton convened a two-day meeting of fifty people who lent their names to a non-profit organization dedicated to the documentation and celebration of the diverse food cultures of the American South.

Three-fifths of the founding members attended the organizational meeting wherein a mission was set and a name adopted: The Southern Foodways Alliance. The Center agreed to act as the incubator of the SFA and provided start-up capital, earned from sale of the Center-researched and written cookbook, A Gracious Plenty: Recipes and Recollections from the American South. In May of 1998, the Center had staged the first Southern Foodways Symposium, organized by John T. Edge, then a graduate student.

At that July of 1999 meeting, the founders elected a board of directors and agreed to hire John T. Edge as director of the SFA. He remained the sole employee until Mary Beth Lasseter was hired as associate director in 2004. As the SFA has grown, it has honed a mission that leverages oral history and film work through publications and programming.

View the Southern Foodways Alliance website.