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

  • Allyson Scherb Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Anne Palmer The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for a Livable Future
  • Shannon Frattaroli The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Keshia Pollack The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Keywords: Evaluation, Food Policy Council, Food System, Policy

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.

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Author Biographies

Allyson Scherb, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Allyson Scherb is now at Health Resources in Action; 622 Washington Street; Boston, Massachusetts 02124 USA.

Anne Palmer, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for a Livable Future
The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for a Livable Future; 615 North Wolfe Street, Suite W7010; Baltimore, Maryland 21205 USA.
Shannon Frattaroli, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Department of Policy and Management, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; 624 North Broadway Street, Room 545; Baltimore, Maryland 21205 USA.
Keshia Pollack, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Department of Policy and Management, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; 624 North Broadway Street, Room 557; Baltimore, Maryland 21205 USA; +1-410-502-6272.
Published
2012-08-24
How to Cite
Scherb, A., Palmer, A., Frattaroli, S., & Pollack, K. (2012). Exploring Food System Policy: A Survey of Food Policy Councils in the United States. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 2(4), 3-14. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2012.024.007
Section
Open Call Papers