Local food policy councils bring together various sectors to improve local production, processing, distribution and education for better diets and economic development.
Benefits & Problems Addressed
Healthy food systems: Education & access to healthy food supports both food industries & public health.
Economic development: Small business formation around healthy food production, processing & distribution supports local economic activity.
Community building: Food policy councils form a structure for new, energetic partnerships beyond food policy,
Tips & Techniques
Getting started: Investigate the structure of current food policy programs & stakeholder groups. Convene a steering committee to map opportunities & gaps. Describe the local farm to table supply chain to determine weak spots. Determine a structure & top priorities.
Common stakeholders: (1) Farmers, agricultural groups & local USDA cooperative extension agencies; (2) local governments including public health, schools, social service organizations (3) Food processors; (4) Restaurants & food trucks, food outlets, & grocery stores, (5) Economic Development representatives such as chambers of commerce & small business organizations, (6) philanthropic organizations.
Working with schools & adult care centers: See if there are programs & grants for healthy school lunch programs. Develop garden plots and/or offer unused land for community plots, gardens & restaurants. Work with nursing homes & adult care centers as well.
Technology & research: Contact universities, community colleges & research organizations testing agriculture and food processing technology.
Growth: Grow local businesses through national seller/buyer networks. Work with local business & tech accelerators with programs to help businesses scale. Plug into national networks that link sellers & buyers. Sponsor group displays at national food & beverage conferences and specialty buying trips.
Hot Buttons: Like small businesses & artists, farmers need support with insurance & health care costs. Some programs limit participation to organic-only or producer-only farmers.
MarketMaker: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign & Riverside Research