As Clare Gupta points out, writing for the University of California,
Most communities have transportation, housing or land use policies, but food policies are frequently missing.
She goes on to say:
FPCs support a variety of food and agriculture-related policies and programs, including healthy food access, land use planning, regional food procurement, food waste, food and economic development, local food processing, and regulations related to urban farming or community gardening, to name a few examples.
As of 2009, there were between 75 and 100 food policy councils the USA, existing at municipal, county, state, or tribal levels, or even as collaborations between different government bodies. By 2015, there were more than 200. As news of this good idea spread, it was picked up by food-service organizations, community coalitions, and what Mark Winne, a Connecticut-based co-founder of a number of food and agriculture policy groups, calls a “crazy-quilt of small federal grant programs.”
They embrace farmers, retailers, and distributors, every stage of the massive undertaking known as feeding the people. Now, there is quite a number of FPCs in North America, as shown by the Food Policy Networks map. Because of local conditions, each FPC necessarily has its own priorities and personality. Once again, one size does not fit all.
Winne describes three typical projects: community gardens in Ohio, a farmers’ market in New Mexico, and a three-acre agricultural project in California. Academia is interested in knowing which ones really move and shake. For instance, researchers learned:
A targeted sub-group of the FPC (i.e. working group; task force, campaign) can work with key allies to push forward a particular policy priority — the entire council does not necessarily have to be entirely involved.
“Advocacy & Lobbying 101 for Food Policy Councils,” created by The Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, is a typical publication. Allies stand ready to spread any news about how to successfully accomplish great things. In fact, FPC participants see information sharing as the most valuable thing that goes on, both within a group and among groups.
The FPC culture seems in general to be open-minded. It does not scorn what others call anecdotal evidence. Gupta quotes the literature:
Real-life experiences are often as compelling with policy-makers as statistics. FPCs cite the value of integrating information from numbers (i.e. quantitative data) and stories (i.e. qualitative data).
The Food Policy Networks website offers such useful items as the current Food Policy Council Report, a recent Food Policy Priorities Survey, and the U.S. Food Policy Study Guide, which explains the current Farm Bill.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “Food policy councils are emerging as a model to address gaps in local policies,” UCANR.edu, 02/19/19
Source: “Visioning For Healthful Food Access In Portland,” PDX.edu, June 2009
Source: “Stand Together for Community Food Projects,” MarkWinne.com, 05/21/18
Source: “FLPC Releases Advocacy and Lobbying Guide for Food Policy Councils,” CHLPI.org, 03/07/19
Photo credit: Global Justice Now on Visualhunt/CC BY