On July 22, 1999, in Birmingham, Alabama, author and activist John Egerton convened a two-day meeting of 50 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 for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi 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, we have honed a mission that leverages oral history and film work through publications and programming. We have also hired more staff and made a greater effort to reach larger audiences.
View the Southern Foodways Alliance website.