Food Policy Audit

This audit seeks to assess the applied value of a Food Policy Audit (FPA) with regard to setting and operationalizing food policy council planning initiatives and action agendas. The FPA is a recent addition to the local planners’ tool box, which initially was designed to serve several functions, including: raising the general awareness and understanding about how issues regarding the food system of a community interplay with the myriad other community issues, beginning a community-wide discourse about its food system priorities, and providing a baseline inventory and gap analysis of the formal and informal policies impacting the local food system (O’Brien and Cobb, 2012). The FPA was created to fill a much need deficiency in food system planning tools. Based on the results documented by the pilot study conducted by the University of Virginia, as well as one by the Franklin County Local Food Council, the FPA appears to have tremendous potential with regard to food policy councils. This study seeks to utilize the Food Policy Audit to assist Good Food Central Florida (Food Policy Council, Orange County, FL) with creating a baseline inventory of assets and gaps in their current food system.

  • The research questions, objectives and purpose
    1. Research Questions
      1. To what extent can a food policy audit inform the planning and advocacy agendas of Good Food Central Florida, or Food Policy Councils in general?
      2. What are the strengths and limitations of using a food policy audit in the context of FPC planning?
  • To what extent do food policy audits expose the assets/gaps in local food policy?
  1. Objectives
    1. This project intends to conduct a food policy audit of Orange County, Florida and its five most populous municipalities in order to: 1) create a baseline inventory of the formal and informal policies impacting the community food system, and 2) to better understand how these policies interplay with other community issues.
  2. Purpose
    1. The purpose of this research it to create a useful baseline record for which Orange County’s food policy council – Good Food Central Florida (GFCF), can shape future planning initiatives and actions agendas. This research will also be incorporated as a component of a larger Community Food Assessment being conducted by the coalition.
  • The study design including information that is needed to answer the research questions:
  • The study design for this project heavily relies on two prior Food Policy Audits, one conducted in Franklin County Ohio, by the Franklin County Food Policy Council, and the other as a research project for a policy and planning class at the University of Virginia. The Food Policy Audit Scorecard intended for use with this study was adapted from the two previously mentioned studies, and modeled to the specifications of Good Food Central Florida.

This study will be conducted in two phases. The first phase will consist of gathering all relevant planning and policy documents including comprehensive plans, strategic plans, school wellness plans, zoning code, and state and local guidelines for Orange County and the five most populous municipalities there in. These documents will be reviewed by members of Good Food Central Florida’s Community Food Assessment Planning Team against the already established audit template, and questions will be answered with a “yes” or “no”. Relevant citations will be documented on the FPA scorecard. In order to ensure reliability, each section of the audit will be completed by no less than two individuals; ideally one member of GFCF’s Community Food Assessment Planning Team and one member from an appropriate GFCF sub-committee.

The audit it-self is designated into four different sections: Promoting Local Food, Sustainability, and Community; Strengthening Zoning and Land Use; Addressing Public Health and Food Access; and Fostering Social Equity. Those four sections are further divided into eighteen topic themes. Good Food Central Florida as a whole will determine the appropriate participants for conducting the audit. The audit is designed in such a way that each section can be reviewed independent from the others. Meaning, the results from one section are not reliant on the completion of another. This opens up the possibility for different participants to complete only the sections that are most appropriate to their expertise.

Phase two will include follow up communications with selected stakeholders from either local governments or different community organizations. The list of stakeholders will be determined by Good Food Central Florida at a monthly general meeting. Stakeholders from the study area could potentially include: the City of Orlando Planning Department, Orange County Office of Environmental Protection, Winter Park local government, East End Market, etc. Follow up correspondence is intended to verify, or “groundtruth” audit results, while at the same time establish the needed context for understanding the policy within the local food system. At the end of each interview, there will be time devoted to better understanding the participant’s organization’s role in the food system, being sure to obtain perspectives about what they feel is working and areas that could potentially be improved upon. Each follow up interview will be recorded, and later transcribed.UCF