What is a Food Policy Council?

Traditionally, the food system has been addressed by an array of government departments without coordination or recognition of impacts across food sectors. The fragmentation of food policy produces disconnection between food system stakeholders and results in greater problems of food access, security, economic equity, and health.

Putting the pieces back together: The Food Policy Council model has emerged in North America over the last three decades as an attempt to address gaps in food policy and planning. Today over 100 food policy councils exist across North America in cities and regions with growing food movements. Food policy councils have proven to have synergistic value, creating new relationships, partnerships, and programs.

Food Policy Councils bring together diverse stakeholders to study a local food system and offer recommendations for policy change. FPC members represent the full spectrum of food system activities: they are typically farmers, gardeners, chefs and restaurateurs, food processors and wholesalers, farm and food worker advocates, grocers, consumers, public health practitioners, anti-hunger and food security advocates and government representatives. Though they take many forms and serve different purposes, Food Policy Councils are united in their interest to transform the food system through collaboration.

Some examples: If linked together in innovative ways, large-scale initiatives that focus on creating healthier food environments in underserved neighborhoods (such as the Fresh Works Fund, corner store conversions, or school food reform), and initiatives that focus on improving the sustainability of our regional food economy (such as developing a regional food hub or incentivizing producers to shift their production practices), can alter our current paradigm and scale up our efforts to make good food accessible to everyone. The purpose of the food policy council is to bring together food system leaders from across sectors, geographies, and socio-economic communities to build new relationships and to strengthen, facilitate, and coordinate systemic change.