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Exploring Food System Policy: A Survey of Food Policy Councils in the United States

by Allyson Scherba, Anne Palmerb, Shannon Frattarolic, and Keshia Pollackd*

http://dx.doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2012.024.007, pp. 3–14

Posted online 24 August 2012

 

Abstract

Food policy councils (FPCs) have become a popular way to organize various food system stakeholders at the local, municipal, and state levels. FPCs typically build partnerships with stakeholders; examine current policies, regulations, and ordinances related to food; and support or create programs that address food system issues. While FPCs have the potential to affect policy change and often include policy-related goals in their missions, the literature on how FPCs engage in the policy process, what policies FPCs address, and the policy impacts of their work are very limited. We conducted an electronic survey of FPC leaders to describe FPCs, their level of engagement in policy processes, and the scope of their policy activities. We invited all U.S. FPCs that were included in an FPC database (N =92) to participate. Of the 56 FPCs that completed the survey (64 percent response rate), 52 percent had been in existence for at least 3 years and 85 percent were engaged in policy activities at the time of the survey. Most FPCs engage in policy work in multiple venues (88 percent) and on multiple topics (79 percent). Many FPCs reported participating in the policy process through problem identification (95 percent) and education (78 percent); few mentioned evaluating their policy work. Those not engaged in policy most often cited lack of resources and technical expertise as barriers. These results suggest that while most FPCs are engaging in policy, why and how they engage varies greatly. Since FPCs are frequently cited as an effective way to address local and state food system issues, there is a need for more rigorous evaluation of the processes, outcomes, and impacts of their work.

 

Keywordsevaluation, food policy council, food system, policy

 

Affiliations

a This research was conducted while Allyson Scherb was a master's of public health student at The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Allyson Scherb is now at Health Resources in Action; 622 Washington Street; Boston, Massachusetts 02124 USA; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

b The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for a Livable Future; 615 North Wolfe Street, Suite W7010; Baltimore, Maryland 21205 USA; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

c Department of Policy and Management, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; 624 North Broadway Street, Room 545; Baltimore, Maryland 21205 USA; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

d Department of Policy and Management, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; 624 North Broadway Street, Room 557; Baltimore, Maryland 21205 USA.

 

* Corresponding author: Keshia Pollack; +1-410-502-6272; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 
 

Banner photos include a Cape Cod cranberry bog; a cranberry “screen house” used to grade fresh cranberries; farmland near Lake Placid, NY, in the Adirondack Mountains; Montmorency cherry trees on the Mission Peninsula of northern Michigan; the historic Round Barn in the South Mountain Apple Belt of Adams County, Pennsylvania; the “Sea of Grapes” district of the Lake Erie Concord Grape Belt, near Erie, Penn; a field of cabbages near Shortsville, NY, home to one of the world’s largest sauerkraut factories. All photos copyright by Duncan Hilchey.

 

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