From Civic Group to Advocacy Coalition: Using a Food Policy Audit as a Tool for Change
‘Food democracy’ suggests that building a policy environment within which a community food system can thrive relies on a politically engaged citizenry. Across North America, civic-oriented groups are conducting grass-roots projects to develop community food systems. Projects are addressing issues such as local food security, healthy food access, and agriculture economic development. Local governments are paying increasing attention to this new policy arena; however, policy environments that support these projects are often lacking. Using the advocacy coalition framework (ACF), this paper presents the case of Franklin County, Ohio to illustrate how a civically-oriented group transitioned into an advocacy coalition. A food policy audit was used as a tool to develop technical knowledge that translated the Franklin County Local Food Council’s mission and objectives to political asks, resulting in a policy agenda. Through the audit process, the council identified and secured additional coalition members and increased the local governance capacity to create a healthy food policy environment. The ACF provides evidence-based framework that can be used elsewhere to evaluate the policy readiness of an FPC. Further, from a practical standpoint, I further the discussion about the utility of a local food policy audit.
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