The SFA has a strategic vision and roadmap for growth through 2025. It boils down to this: Do more of what we already do well, but on a grander scale while reaching more people.

To ready itself for a third decade, the SFA developed a new logo and new messaging, which more directly reflects the current mission and vision. In 2018, SFA also retooled and relaunched each and every one of its core products.

To rethink Gravy print and podcast, SFA convened two different three-day sessions with subject matter experts including Dorothy Kalins (Saveur), Chris Ying (Lucky Peach), Eve Troeh (Marketplace), and Wendy Dorr (Caliphate, The New York Times). SFA also rebuilt its website from the ground up and won a grant to rethink its film and audio archive.

As the budget grows, SFA is hiring staff to elevate its digital strategy and do more targeted marketing. The organization recently hired a dedicated fundraiser who actively seeks gifts from members, and donations in the $25,000 to $100,000 range are becoming more frequent. There will be more prominent stewardship of donors and supporters.

Documentary short films and oral histories will always be central to SFA’s mission, and that work is launching the careers of a new generation of documentarians and scholars.

In 2015 SFA hired Ava Lowrey as the Pihakis Foodways Documentary Filmmaker to direct and produce foodways films and teach students. She has made dozens of documentaries on subjects as varied as the importance of pinto beans in Southern cooking; a one-stop grocery store and taqueria in rural Siler City, North Carolina; and Dolester Miles, the veteran pastry chef at Highlands Bar and Grill in Birmingham, Alabama, known for elevating Southern classics such as coconut pecan cake with crème anglaise.

SFA will likely develop a popular press book imprint of its own. They’ve also discussed a seed fund or venture capital fund that could help sustain and grow culturally rich but financially poor entities.

As SFA enters its third decade, leaders have a singular vision of driving further progress in the South and beyond with their academically grounded influence on culture, food, and discourse.

Each new podcast episode, short film, Gravy article, published book, workshop, writers retreat, speaker opportunity, chef invitation, and subsequent exposure in other media further elevates the lives and businesses of people who are positively changing the South.

“SFA has given us a platform to tell our stories, and that storytelling is just as important as what’s on the plate in front of us,” said Gomez, SFA member and collaborator since 2012.