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The Food Policy Networks response to COVID-19

Food policy councils are in a position to address food system vulnerabilities being exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic through a coordinated response and strong policy advocacy. The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future’s Food Policy Networks project is supporting food policy councils and other food policy advocates in a variety of ways during these uncertain times.

Applying Research

The FPN project surveyed FPCs in summer 2020 to gauge how they responded and adapted to food systems challenges after the first 3-6 months of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent crises, including the demonstrations against racial injustice. To learn more about their responses, check out:

We will conduct the survey again in spring 2021 to explore how FPCs’ role has evolved over the course of the pandemic.


February 18, 2021
Making Sense of the Chaos: Finding beacons of hope in the federal government
Adam Zipkin, Counsel for US Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Katherine Stewart, Legislative Director for Representative Alma Adams (D-NC 12), discussed opportunities for federal food and farm systems reform and ways for food policy councils to engage with their elected officials. The conversation was moderated by Heidi Holliday, Executive Director for Consensus KC and Renee Andriani with Andriani Creative visually documented the event. View video and graphic recording here.

January 6, 2021
Making Sense of the Chaos: Reflections from food policy councils on 2020
Tamara Downs Schwei, Local Food Policy Coordinator, Homegrown Minneapolis; Elisa Muñoz-Miller, Executive Director, New Orleans Food Policy Advisory Committee; and Jesse Padron, Chair, Oneida Community Integrated Food Systems shared about their responses to the events of 2020. Participants were invited to share their experiences during the event. Karen A. Spiller, Principal, KAS Consulting moderated the conversation. View video and graphic recording here.

June 22, 2020
Planning for the worst: What municipal food policy leaders are learning from the COVID-19 pandemic
Food policy leaders from four cities share their experiences managing the COVID-19 pandemic, including strategies they have developed in response to the pandemic, the role of community in their work, and what have they learned thus far. Speakers: Holly Freishtat, Food Policy Director, Baltimore, MD; Milele P. Kennedy, Food Policy and Program Coordinator, Indianapolis, IN; Edwin Marty, Food Policy Manager, Austin, TX; Latha Swamy, Food Systems Policy Director, New Haven, CT. View recording here.

May 21 and 28, 2020
Leveraging local actions to support food chain workers during COVID-19
Part 1 provides an overview of the harmful impacts of our current labor system on food chain workers and discusses possible policy opportunities to address those impacts. Speakers: Claudia Rósales, Farmworker and Food Worker Organizer at Pioneer Valley Workers Center; Christina Spach, National Organizer at the Food Chain Workers Alliance; Jose Oliva, Campaigns Director of the HEAL Food Alliance and board member of the Chicago Food Policy Action Council; and Nessia Berner Wong, Senior Policy Analyst at ChangeLab Solutions. View recording here.

Part 2 offers examples of how food policy councils and similar groups can integrate food worker voices in their memberships, build support for advocating on labor issues, and communicate around labor issues. Speakers: Irene de Barraicua, Public Relations Manager for Líderes Campesinas; Winona Bynum, Executive Director of the Detroit Food Policy Council; Tanya Kerssen, Political Education + Strategy at Real Food Media; Colleen McKinney, Director of Engagement at The Center for Good Food Purchasing; and Beth Spitler, Field Director at the California Food and Farming Network. View recording here.

April 6, 2020
Federal COVID-19 Relief: What does it mean for food policy on the ground?
National policy leaders discuss how the CARES Act and other federal legislation might affect local food systems resources. Speakers: Wes King, Senior Policy Specialist at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and Corey Malone-Smolla, Policy Specialist at Feeding America. View recording hereRead impact story: Emergency COVID Food Policies - Can They Become Permanent Reform?.

April 3, 2020
State Food Councils and Networks Response to COVID-19
Food systems councils and networks working at the state level talk about their response to COVID-19, including policies being proposed, debated and passed. View recording here.

March 20, 2020
Roundtable discussion: Food policy councils and COVID-19
Six food policy council leaders discuss how their councils are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Speakers: Heather Bruskin, Montgomery County Food Council (Maryland); Noel Didla, Mississippi Food Policy Council and Mississippi Food Justice Collaborative; Michaela Freiburger, Dubuque County Food Policy Council (Iowa); Dawn Plummer, Pittsburgh Food Policy Council (Pennsylvania); Nessa Richman, Rhode Island Food Policy Council; and Dana Wood, Safe and Abundant Nutrition Alliance (Colorado). View recording hereRead impact story: Food Security in the Time of COVID – It’s Not Charity, It’s Justice.

To learn about upcoming webinars, join the Food Policy Networks listserv.