In 2013, the Adams County Food Policy Council connected a community generated idea with a local nonprofit, South Central Community Action Programs. The Gleaning Project of South Central Pennsylvania was born with a mission to make good use of agricultural excess, reduce food insecurity and improve nutrition, and connect our community. It became an outlet for the 20% of food on farms that goes to waste through no fault of the farmer. The first photo shows sweet and crisp apples that might have gone to waste simply because they are so small. Years of outreach and partnerships followed to educate the community about the practice of gleaning and to empower individuals of any age to be a gleaning superhero. The second photo shows a young volunteer during a potato bagging event, one of over 600 community members who volunteer with The Gleaning Project each year. Since 2013, about one million pounds of produce has been gleaned and distributed for free to individuals experiencing food insecurity in Adams County. Through partnerships with senior centers, food pantries, housing authorities, and more, about 9,000 individuals had access to gleaned produce this year. The third photo shows a selection of gleaned produce that is available on The Gleaning Project produce stand during the summer months.
Image credit: Elizabeth Cooper, Adams County Food Policy Council; CLF Food Policy Networks Photo Contest, 2018.
Photo series: Cultivating a robust, equitable, sustainable local food system!
Montgomery County Food Council
The Montgomery County Food Council is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working to cultivate a robust, sustainable, equitable local food system in Montgomery County, Maryland. We are an active participant in urban and rural policy and process change, leading the way to a more healthful and sustainable community by bringing together producers, retailers, consumers, and educators in a coordinated effort to address the broad range of issues surrounding food and food sourcing in our county.
In 2017, we worked with our County government and partner organizations to create the Food Security Plan, a five-year plan to address and reduce food insecurity levels in Montgomery County. Recommendations of the Plan include standardizing data collection from food assistance providers, supporting capacity building, and analyzing transportation barriers to food access. We worked with CountyStat and the Montgomery County Department of Transportation to create FoodStat, a data analysis tool that synthesizes all relevant data available in order to identify food access barriers and resources in our communities, determine priority zones of highest unmet need and potential service delivery gaps, and facilitate collaboration, program efficiencies and capacity building. We are currently in Year 2 of the Plan, and are working to implement a ""Screen-and-Intervene"" program in partnership with local healthcare providers to screen for hunger during intakes, conduct SNAP outreach to maximize participation in federal benefit programs, increase retail food access, and more.
We work closely with local food and beverage producers and farmers to connect them to individual, retail, and wholesale customers and to highlight their products in markets, at events, and throughout the community. In 2018, we hosted two ""MoCo Made Days,"" each attended by hundreds of community members, to celebrate Montgomery County food and beverage producers. We've released three editions of the Montgomery County Food and Beverage Guide, each listing dozens of Montgomery County food and beverage businesses and farms. We distributed 2,500 copies of the 2017 Food and Beverage Guide and anticipate that we will distribute more than 3,500 copies of the 2018-2019 Guide. We created the MoCo Made logo in November 2017 in partnership with the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation, to increase the visibility of our local food and beverage sector, and we have distributed MoCo Made marketing materials to over 20 local retailers where products in the Food and Beverage Guide are sold.
Our staff, Council Members, and volunteers are also dedicated to ensuring that our food system has minimal environmental impact. We have organized and participated in gleanings at local farms to recover food that would otherwise not be harvested, and work with a food rescue organization to donate that produce to food assistance providers. We advocate for the expansion of commercial and residential composting, and have collaborated with County Council to create the Strategic Plan to Advance Composting and Compost Use, released in April 2018. We believe that the journey that food takes from the table to the waste stream is just as important as from farm to table.
Image credit: Massa Cressall and Catherine Nardi, Montgomery County Food Council; CLF Food Policy Networks Photo Contest, 2018
Photo series: Fair for all: Taking a stand for Fair Workweek in Philadelphia
Philadelphia Food Policy Advisory Council
It was a big year for workers' rights in Philadelphia! In June 2018, Councilwoman Helen Gym introduced legislation to establish common-sense standards to protect low-wage workers against unpredictable scheduling in the food service, retail, and hospitality sectors. The Philadelphia Food Policy Advisory Council's Workforce and Economic Development subcommittee worked with One PA, a nonprofit that unites low income and working-class activists, to learn more about their campaign and brainstorm ways FPAC can lend support.
The Workforce subcommittee guides the City in developing and implementing policies and practices to build a stronger regional economy and just food system in which workers along the entire food chain enjoy quality jobs that provide economic stability and upward mobility. At FPAC meetings, Political Director Salewa Ogunmefun and Campaigner Felicia Carter presented on the details of the Fair Workweek legislation and highlighted the importance of gathering workers' stories that describe the impact an unstable schedule has on predicting monthly incomes, planning for childcare, and making ends meet overall. The proposed legislation would require that chains with at least 250 employees and over 30 locations provide advanced notice of schedules, a pathway to access more hours of work, compensation for last-minute schedule changes, and protection from retaliation. Workforce members put out a call for workers' stories, sent a letter of support urging the Kenney Administration to support the legislation, and incorporated the bill's components into its Guide to Fair Labor for Good Food Businesses. On December 6th, City Council passed the Fair Workweek legislation through a 14-3 vote. This is a tremendous victory for over 130,000 food service, retail, and hospitality workers, and it will be key to building stronger families and a stronger Philadelphia!
Image credit: Mary Pham, Philadelphia Food Policy advisory Council; CLF Food Policy Networks Photo Contest, 2018.
Photo series: Fare Food Shopping
Greater Kansas City Food Policy Coalition
Research has shown that people are more likely to walk, bike or use public transportation to get to their destination‚Äîincluding a grocery store‚Äîwhen conditions are safe and when transportation is accessible and affordable. But all too often, low-income neighborhoods lack grocery stores and people are less likely to own a vehicle. This means thousands of people must walk to the grocery store or rely on public transportation. With this in mind, the Grocery Access Task Force recently took a look at six KCMO bus stops near grocery stores. Working with representatives from Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, the group recommended targeted repairs and improvements that would help residents in underserved/low-vehicle-ownership areas do their grocery shopping by city bus. The recommendations, which include ADA accessibility, crosswalks and safe sidewalks, were submitted to the city manager's office early this year. KC Healthy Kids' dietetics interns have created healthy recipes that use affordable, easy-to-carry ingredients. These, along with tips for grocery shopping by bus and links to food assistance programs can be found at https://www.kchealthykids.org/fare-food-shopping/. For our city to thrive, we must make sure everyone has safe sidewalks, crosswalks and bus stops to help them get where they are going. Convened by the Greater Kansas City Food Policy Coalition, the Grocery Access Task Force consists of nearly 30 experts representing leadership from government, public health, grocery retail, civic, and community and economic development organizations. Together, they have explored barriers to supermarket and grocery store development in underserved neighborhoods.
Photo series: From 'Dreaming Big' to Equity: Passing the Good Food Policy Program in Cook County
Chicago Food Policy Action Council
Earlier this year, we had our 13th Annual Food Policy Summit at the South Shore Cultural Center where we brainstormed and discussed strategies for passing the Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP) in Cook County. We had already helped passed it in the city and at Chicago Public School system, but we wanted to take a moment to reflect and analyze how GFPP could be more equitable with our coalition partners and community members during the summit. We dreamed big of passing not only passing GFPP in the county but also across the state and the nation. Inspired by the summit and committed to building racial equity in our communities, we mobilized food justice advocates to make calls and sign petitions. The second picture is reflective of how advocacy efforts takes a lot of time inside meeting chambers, but our hopes are still holding on strong. Our mobilization and patience paid off! We we're the first county to pass the Good Food Purchasing Program in the nation. The Cook County resolution is the most explicit Good Food Purchasing Program policy to date that accounts for and corrects power imbalances in access to resources, land, and investment for businesses, workers, and farmers that have long been marginalized in the food system, particularly low-income and communities of color. Under the Program, the County will incentivize contracts with minority- and women-owned businesses in order to preserve and secure urban farmland with equitable community ownership and to transition publicly owned vacant lots to minority-owned social enterprises and land trusts. By adopting this policy, it will impact over $20 million in annual purchasing for the county's hospitals and prisons. We believe the Good Food Purchasing Program has the power to transform the food system in every region where it is implemented. We are excited to implement this model for food procurement that supports the most impacted frontline communities.
Image credit: Carolina Sanchez and Kara Rodriguez, Chicago Food Policy Action Council , CLF Food Policy Networks Photo Contest, 2018.
Photo series: From Charity to Justice
Mother Hubbard's Cupboard
MHC has been around for 20 years ‚Äì serving families and individuals, talking about good food and the root causes of hunger, building relationships and community. Our food pantry, community gardens, and nutrition programming have always prioritized healthy, fresh food in the pantry. At the same time, we've always known that emergency food alone doesn't address the reason that folks need our services to begin with, and that education's usefulness is often limited by the opportunities and resources to exercise it. With all that in mind, when we started looking at advocacy and policy work several years ago, we knew we wanted to use the same values we've had in our direct service and education programs; community, equity, sustainability to name just a few. But we also wanted to make sure that our work was grounded in providing opportunities -- opportunities for economic growth, community empowerment, and the growth of supportive networks.
These photos show those values in action. The first is our low-¬≠?barrier food pantry, full of fresh greensand local goods. The second and third show our Hub Farm Stand and a Hub Dinner respectively. In the pantry, we make sure that people get the food they need today. But with the Hub Farm Stand, pantry patrons like Lisa and Kenny can sell their homegrown produce and handmade goods to other community members, providing an economic opportunity for them while also increasing the availability of affordable, local, fresh goods for other patrons. Or take the Hub Dinners ‚Äì these monthly meals give community members a chance to come together over delicious food and learn about a range of advocacy tools. In the third photo, patrons, Hub staff, interns, and community members are finishing piecing together a timeline of how the Indiana General Assembly works, just before breaking into small groups to look at upcoming bills for 2019.
Though this work is still newer for us, we've already seen its positive impacts. In the last year alone, we've seen 109 voters registered in the food pantry through efforts that began at a Hub Dinner. We've had Farm Stand vendors come back two years in a row to sell, who are already planning to join us for the coming season. We've brought community members together to discuss what makes it hard to access food, and to start mapping out how we can impact policy change at the state level. It's new work, but we're excited to keep working on it.
Local Produce Link (LPL) is an initiative funded by the New York State Department of Health Hunger Prevention Nutrition Assistance Program (NYSDOH HPNAP) that connects regional farmers with food-insecure communities in New York City. Using the community supported agriculture model, 8 farmers make weekly deliveries during the growing season to provide fresh produce to 49 food pantries in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. Designed with the hub-and-spoke concept, one food pantry serves as the hub host and receives weekly deliveries containing multiple shares of vegetables during the months of June to November. The host pantry keeps one vegetable share to distribute in the next two days to their clients as part of a balanced food package, while other food pantries pick up the remaining shares to serve their own communities. LPL is unique in that the arrangement is intentional; these farm-delivered vegetables are not gleaned or rescued. Each farmer is contracted to grow these crops for the pantry communities and is compensated a market rate for their harvest.
The process depicted in this series of 3 photos marks the steps involved getting the produce from the farmers to the clients. In the first image, the driver from the Farm at Miller's Crossing is unloading his Wednesday haul at the Long Island City, Queens hub, Hour Children Community Pantry. The second image shows team members from South Side United HDFC/ Los Sures collecting their boxes to take them back to their food pantry in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Lastly, at Child Development Support Corporation in the Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn, fresh organic veggies from LPL are offered as part of their client choice-style food distribution. The pantry coordinator there shared, ""The program is fantastic. I look forward to participating in 2019.""
Image credit: Jennifer Horan, United Way of New York City, CLF Food Policy Networks Photo Contest, 2018.
Photo series: Mobile Farm Workforce Pilot
Uproot Colorado/Colorado Food Policy Network
The mission of UpRoot Colorado is to measurably reduce on-farm surplus agriculture in Colorado through gleaning, experiential education, research and nonpartisan legislation. As part of our efforts to reduce, and better manage, onfarm surplus agriculture, we partnered in 2018 with Rocky Mountain Farmers Union and Veterans to Farmers to pilot a mobile farm workforce (MFW) in an attempt to effectively address the labor shortages on Colorado farms. Over a period of nine weeks‚Äîspanning from mid-September through early November‚Äîthe MFW visited (and often revisited) 10 farms throughout the Metro Denver area, providing paid, efficient and mobile labor to farmers. In total, the MFW assisted in harvesting ~ 200,000 pounds of crops‚ from okra to hemp to cherry tomatoes to organic watermelons‚ for the economic benefit of farmers. The pilot's success may lead to the development of a worker-owned cooperative or labor trust that can address the on-farm needs of Colorado's farmers year round. This series of photos highlights the work performed on a farm in Boulder County where the MFW brought in 20-plus acres of pumpkins and squash over a period of several weeks.
Over the past year, students at Green Street Academy built out a ""Food Computer Room""--a hydroponic, indoor farm system controlled with computer programming and robotics--in the basement of the school during their science class. Students conceptualized, designed, built, and farmed in their Food Computer Room after spending a semester learning about plant science, different types of agriculture, human-centered design, and computer programming through building tabletop Food Computers and discussing how this technology is applicable in everyday life. We know that access to healthy food is a key determinant of health, however, at least 1 in 4 Baltimore City residents live in a food desert, without regular access to fresh produce. We used constructing and farming in Food Computers to design potential solutions for food access our communities using students' expertise in Food Computer technology, computer coding, agriculture, and human-centered design.
From community interviews, students learned that the average Baltimorean was not familiar with urban agriculture or new technology, and that many parents wanted their children to eat healthy food, however, children didn't necessarily want to eat healthy food. Because of this, students explored solutions to food deserts such as building a mobile ""grocery store"" that grew its own produce in Food Computers, holding after school Family Cooking Nights where people could learn about nutrition and how to incorporate new foods into their diet, and teaching computer coding classes to younger students so that they are more inclined to accept technology and agriculture changes as they grow up. After vetting their ideas, this year's senior students decided to run Food Computer workshops in elementary schools so that students in all Baltimore City Public Schools could potentially learn about the intersection of food and technology and grow up to be Baltimore citizens who can help shape the future of food systems policies.
Image credit: Melanie Shimano, Green Street Academy, CLF Food Policy Networks Photo Contest, 2018.
Photo series: The Power of Choice!
Lake County Food Council, Bread of Life Food Pantry
This series of photos depicts a small food pantry's amazing three year progression, from 2016-2018, to create change in the quality and distribution of the food received at the Bread of Life Food Pantry in Baldwin, MI. Their history was one of packing bags with food they thought pantry users wanted. Space was limited so bags were chosen while families waited outside the door. The pantry focused on getting the most food for their dollar. There were few fresh fruits and vegetables. Hotdogs and lunchmeats were standards. Many of the choices were convenience foods containing extra salt, sugar and fat. As depicted in the first photo, their first attempt at empowering community members to choose their own food began with several grocery carts sitting outside that were filled with local produce, allowing for extra fresh food choices after they received their standard bags. In partnership with the Lake County Community Food Council, the pan try took on the challenge of visiting other choice pantries and the idea of converting to MyChoice began to grow. This ultimately created an interest in expanding the pantry building and installing a combined glass front refrigerator and freezer unit to allow for a visual shopping experience. The staff and volunteers, through a USDA grant called Voices for Food, participated in ""Small Steps to Health"" nutrition workshops. This investment began to create a unified language within the pantry, reflecting what a healthy plate looks like and how to eat healthy on a limited budget. Shelves were color coded and organized according to MyPlate. Pantry users receive a guided shopping experience and take in consistent, factual nutrition messages through signage displays, recipe offerings, and discussion with pantry staff. The assistant pantry director put it so well when she said ‚""we went from giving out food that they might use, to having them choose food they will use."" This evolution to MyChoice created new partnerships with local farmers and retail food distributers. Last year, hunters donated 2000 pounds of venison to the pantry. This new way of looking at and accessing healthy food changed what was ordered and why. They transitioned from focusing on just getting the lowest cost food, to hand picking higher quality foods that support health and chronic disease prevention. This small group of volunteers has leaned into uncertainty, taken on the challenge to network with other communities utilizing MyChoice and ultimately embraced this empowering model to support food access in their community. It is one thing to start a project, it is something totally different when community groups continue to evolve as they progress, bringing the project full circle in a way that they never imagined. Henry Ford said, ""Coming together is the beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success."" The Bread of Life Food Pantry has done a beautiful job of coming together and finishing strong!
Image credit: Kendra Gibson, Lake County Food Council, Bread of Life Food Pantry, CLF Food Policy Networks Photo Contest, 2018.
Photo series: Waste Not, Want Not: GleaND is reducing food waste and hunger in the Red River Valley
Over the last two years, Cass Clay Food Partners has been researching policy and other system strategies to address food waste in our community. This has included the development of a food waste issue brief, presentations about the issue to Cass Clay Food Commission and the general public, and strengthening relationships with the emergency food system and farmers. This work culminated in 2018 with the launch of GleaND, a network of volunteers and farmers working together to glean surplus produce and deliver to the Great Plains Food Bank, which distributes to food pantries across North Dakota. GleaND is hosted by Fargo Cass Public Health and is also supported by North Dakota State University and the Great Plains Food Bank, representing an organizational level policy change as the three organizations have worked together to institutionalize the gleaning program. GleaND rescued over 7,000 lbs of food in 2018.
The mission of UpRoot Colorado is to measurably reduce on-farm surplus agriculture in Colorado through gleaning, experiential education, research and nonpartisan legislation. As part of our educational outreach, we hold on-farm seeding and planting events in addition to our gleaning and harvesting work. Jinx, the barn cat, decided to nestle-in to my knapsack at the sign-in station for volunteers with a contented countenance that helped reinforce our efforts to reinstall food wisdom into our communities one human at a time.
In 2018, Cass Clay Food Partners launched a new part of our network called the Cass Clay Food Action Network, which builds on the work of, and is hosted, by Ugly Food of the North. The action network organized a monthly gathering called First Fridays at B, an opportunity for networking, learning, and taking action to improve our local food system. The action network provides grassroots support for our food policy work of the Cass Clay Food Commission (another component of Cass Clay Food Partners). Every month, attendees provide kudos and shoutouts for the good work happening in the community. Or apparently, to share random commentary about fashion trends in agriculture. This note was discovered on the FEEDback board after a recent First Fridays gathering.
The seniors at Green Street Academy in Baltimore, Maryland have spent the past year building Food Computers, which are tabletop, hydroponic greenhouses that are climate-controlled with computer programming and robotics. In building these Food Computers, students learn how to apply technical skills in computer programming, engineering, urban agriculture, plant science, and design to immediate, real-world challenges such as food access and food deserts. At the end of each grow cycle, when the produce in our Food Computers is fully grown, students harvest the produce (in this picture students harvested a mixture of basil and cilantro), and cook with it! Throughout the year we'll have a few food science and nutrition classes where students will get to experiment with making dishes to understand the impact of different cooking techniques, and then we'll end the semester with an ""Iron Chef""-style cooking competition where the students will have to make a dish that contains something that we've grown in a Food Computer. I took this photo after we had talked about how we can use herbs to flavor dishes and the difference between fresh and dried herbs in a dish. In this class, students compared pasta dishes with different types of herbs mixed into the sauce to taste the difference between basil, cilantro, sage, and mint.
Image credit: Melanie Shimano, Green Street Academy, CLF Food Policy Networks Photo Contest, 2018.
Photo: High Tech Communication to get the word out about SNAP
Pima County Food Alliance
Pima County Food Alliance used ""high tech"" communication at a local festival to get the word out about the Farm Bill's history and future in America (participants could take a quiz to be entered into a raffle). The tin can phone was used to practice calling state representatives to advocate for the Farm Bill.
Lakeshore Food Club in Ludington, Michigan partnered with Michigan State University Extension to offer a 10 week summer nutrition and gardening series for young children entitled ""Eat A Rainbow!"". The child pictured here was shy and reserved at the start of the program but began to blossom more with each weekly experience. Towards the end of the series she proudly presented at the start of class with her own personal picking container. She was so excited to help gather the weekly bounty and share it with the food club. Every week was an adventure racing outside to see what the garden had produced. This quote from Fritjof Capra sums up this summer experience so well: ""For children, most importantly, being in the garden is something magical"". These children planted, touched, and had new food experiences all summer long. You could see them opening themselves up to try something new and to be brave. Their eyes lit up with the wonder of what they had help create. Even parents wanted to linger and be a part of what they saw happening in their children. As an instructor, their total engagement made me smile from the inside out. It was unharnessed joy for sure! We all walked away with a new appreciation for what happens in the garden and the power of food. These little people reignited in me the desire to be fully present and open myself up to new experiences too.
This was our first compost customer that was sad to see the end of his time when the residential food scrap collection service in Nashua came by! He'll be returned as nutrients to the soil in the community urban farms next season!
Local Produce Link (LPL) is an initiative funded by the New York State Department of Health Hunger Prevention Nutrition Assistance Program (NYSDOH HPNAP) that connects regional farmers with food-insecure communities in New York City. Using the community supported agriculture model, 8 farmers make weekly deliveries during the growing season to provide fresh produce to 49 food pantries in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. Designed with the hub-and-spoke concept, one food pantry serves as the hub host and receives weekly deliveries containing multiple shares of vegetables during the months of June to November. The host pantry keeps one vegetable share to distribute in the next two days to their clients as part of a balanced food package, while other food pantries pick up the remaining shares to serve their own communities. LPL is unique in that the arrangement is intentional; these farm-delivered vegetables are not gleaned or rescued. Each farmer is contracted to grow these crops for the pantry communities and is compensated a market rate for their harvest. As the program name indicates, Local Produce Link only provides shares of fresh produce for its food pantries, but many of the farmers participating in the program also raise livestock. On a recent farm trip, this pig posed perfectly for the paparazzi up on Hearty Roots Community Farm in Germantown, New York. What a ham!
Image credit: Jennifer Horan, United Way of New York City, CLF Food Policy Networks Photo Contest, 2018.
A diversity of cross-sectoral, multi-scalar networks are emerging to connect place-based food governance initiatives, such as food policy councils and partnerships, aimed to foster sustainable food security. Yet little research has explored how local food policy groups (LFPGs) are (horizontally) connecting to share knowledge and resources, or interacting (vertically) with other scales of food governance. To address this gap, we examine the trans-local dimension of food policy networks‚Äîand its potential to facilitate transformative food system reform. We build on alternative food network, social network, and assemblage thinking to develop an analytical framework that unveils the mobile, unstable, and relational processes and spatialities of LFPGs and the networks which connect them. Through an action-research project comprising a comparative analysis of the Food Policy Networks project in the US and Sustainable Food Cities Network in the UK, we explore how LFPGs connect across different scales and emerge as social-spatial assemblages of food system knowledge, practices, and infrastructure.
Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development
Food policy councils (FPCs) are collaboratives that work to strengthen food systems. Over 300 FPCs exist in the United States, Canada, and Tribal Nations. In 2015, we surveyed the types of initiatives FPCs undertook and identified food sector targets and domains of potential impact in an effort to inform comprehensive FPC impact assessments. FPCs (N=66) reported 317 policy, systems, and environmental initiatives. At least half of these were focused on food production, and many were focused on institutional food service and the food assistance sectors. Commercial food service, food processing, and food waste were less often the focus. Potential impacts of their initiatives were classified into six domains: supporting resilient food systems (235, 74%); increasing access to healthy foods (171, 54%); supporting economic development (115, 36%); promoting equity in the food system (94, 30%); promoting environmental sustainability (82, 26%); and increasing knowledge of or demand for healthy foods (27, 9%). Many initiatives were likely to impact multiple domains.