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Food Policy Councils Advance Regional Approaches to Strengthen Food Systems

News Type College News

Through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA AMS), researchers at The Ohio State University John Glenn College of Public Affairs recently announced that they have launched a collaborative research project to support the creation and management of food policy councils (FPCs) working at a regional scale to strengthen food and agriculture development.

FPCs bring together diverse stakeholders in the food system to collaboratively foster food and agriculture development. They have been instrumental in launching initiatives to tackle issues such as farm economic viability, food security and access, social equity, and environmental sustainability in the food system.

The majority of FPCs bring together stakeholders within a single city or county. However, there is growing recognition that effective food system development requires collaborative approaches that expand beyond the political borders of individual cities or counties. Regional FPCs engage public, private and citizen stakeholders across multiple counties and/or states to create more comprehensive policy solutions.

“Regional food policy work has emerged as a promising approach to developing equitable, sustainable and vibrant food and agriculture systems,” explained Jill Clark, the project lead and an associate professor of public administration in the Glenn College.

Yet implementing regional FPCs presents unique challenges.

“There is need for more resources and information to support food system practitioners working at this scale, including strategies and best practices for equitably engaging diverse stakeholder across larger regions,” Clark said.

Over the 18-month collaborative research project, researchers at Ohio State will collaborate with USDA AMS, the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, Colorado State University and food policy practitioners from 11 regional FPCs as part of a community of practice to explore effective strategies for regional food system development. Findings and resources from this research will contribute to the creation of training and technical assistance materials to guide local practitioners in the development of regional work and inform the deployment of $400 million in additional funding that the USDA is investing in regional food and agriculture development.

FPCs and associated representatives participating in the community of practice include:

  • Boston Food Access Council (Massachusetts) – Cheryl Jean, Ryann Monteiro and Yasser Aponte
  • Cass Clay Food Partners (North Dakota/Minnesota) – Janice Tweet, Michelle Draxten and Noelle Harden
  • Columbia Gorge Food Security Coalition (Oregon/Washington) – Buck Jones, Sarah Sullivan and Sharon Thornberry
  • Food Policy Council for Fresno County (California) – Tara Sweeney, Natalie Caples and Rosemarie Amaral
  • Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council (Ohio) – Anna Haas and Madeline Chera
  • Hudson Valley Food System Coalition (New York) – Mary Ann Johnson, Megan Larmer and Sarah Salem
  • Just Foods Collaborative of Nash and Edgecombe Counties (North Carolina) – Kendrick Ransome and Mary Jane Lyonnais
  • Metropolitan Washington Food Policy Directors/Food Security Coordinators Work Group (Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia) – Lindsay Smith, Melissa Jensen, Michelle Caruso and Ona Balkus
  • NW Indiana Food Council (Indiana) – Anna Martinez, Anne Massie and Virginia Pleasant
  • Roanoke Foodshed Network (Virginia) – Katie Trozzo and Maureen McGonagle
  • Western Prairie Food, Farm and Community Alliance (Kansas) – Misty Jimerson and Sandy Rodgers