What is a Food Policy Council?
Food Policy Councils (FPC) are typically comprised of stakeholders representing various segments of a local food system. Traditional areas of a local food system include production, processing and distribution, consumer and food waste.
A closer examination of a food system reveals that there are many inter-related and overlapping components in addition to these traditional areas and they include the interplay of the environment, economy, social welfare as well as community health.
Food policy councils range in size, make-up and mission. Some food policy councils are formed through grassroots efforts and remain as an informal group with the role of addressing local food issues as they arise while others may be more formally created and as such, funded by a local government or non-profit, with articulated planning goals, strategies and measurable outcomes. Accordingly, each local community determines the council’s vision, mission, composition and roles.
Overall food policy councils are, by their very nature, broad-based collaborations among citizens, farmers, industry, businesses, non-profit agencies and government representatives, where they can gather together to openly discuss food related issues and collectively seek solutions. In addition to education and networking, the primary goal of many food policy councils is to make recommendations for food system improvement through public policy change. Policies may include zoning code amendments, comprehensive plan changes, new public agency procurement rules, or local labeling requirements.
Why Create a Food Policy Council in Central Florida?
Since 2003, feedback from various Central Florida stakeholders, City of Orlando Greenworks Food group participants and Get Active Orlando partners have indicated there was a need for a group to analyze the local food system, better understand its many features and identify ways to make it more resilient. Get Active Orlando initiated Good Food Central Florida in March 2013. Initial organizational funding was generously provided by the Winter Park Health Foundation and administered by Second Harvest Food Bank. The target area of Central Florida was chosen due to the siting and operations of local agriculture, the regional economy and area-wide planning efforts.
Subsequently, Good Food Central Florida has continued its operations wholly through volunteer contributions of time and resources and continues to make progress consistent with its interim one year plan and the accomplishments of its many partners. During 2015, Good Food Central Florida will be conducting a community food assessment in Orange County which will improve outreach and education and inform recommended policy changes.