Home Volume 2, Issue 3 The Food Policy Audit: A New Tool for Community Food System Planning


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The Food Policy Audit: A New Tool for Community Food System Planning

by Jennifer O'Briena,* and Tanya Denckla Cobbb

http://dx.doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2012.023.002, pp. 177–191



The Food Policy Audit was developed in response to the growing need for tools to assist in the food planning process and was piloted in a graduate urban and environmental planning course at the University of Virginia. The audit proceeded in two phases: phase one consisted of 113 yes-or-no research questions regarding the existence of food-based policy relating to public health, economic development, environmental impacts, social equity, and land conservation; phase two confirmed the validity of phase one's results through a series of stakeholder meetings. The meetings also provided insight into the success of policies and initiatives currently in place, community attitudes and perceptions, and community priorities for moving forward. The Food Policy Audit process proved educationally beneficial to both students and community members, and provided a policy-based tool for communities interested in shaping a more sustainable and resilient food system.


Keywords: audit, food policy, food system curriculum, food system planning, local food, local food policy, planning tool, sustainable food system, planning policy



a Jennifer O'Brien is an Urban and Environmental Planning graduate student at the University of Virginia.

* Corresponding author: Jennifer O'Brien, 4998 Break Heart Road, Crozet, VA 22932 USA; +1-313-303-6244; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

b Tanya Denckla Cobb is Associate Director at the Institute for Environmental Negotiation, and lecturer with the Department of Urban and Environmental Planning at the University of Virginia.

Tanya Denckla Cobb, Institute for Environmental Negotiation, 2015 Ivy Road, P.O. Box 400179, Charlottesville, VA 22904 USA; +1-434-924-1855; 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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