"If we are to create community food systems that are economically just and environmentally sustainable, it will require the full and transparent participation by a wide variety of local citizens and stakeholders. This is food democracy, and it is what food policy councils work to attain."
Our Grocery Store, Where Food Meets Policy by Kathleen Gonzalez (edible Santa Fe)
Programs > Policy & Civic Engagement
Farm to Table engages a comprehensive approach to ensuring that public policies which impact the New Mexico food and farming systems are developed and implemented in ways that promote the health and wealth of our communities.
Farm to Table’s approach includes several different strategies for civic and community engagement: development of policy councils, administrative and legislative advocacy, and community-driven leadership development.
Farm to Table is home to the New Mexico Food and Agriculture Policy Council and the Santa Fe Food Policy Council.
- What is a Food Policy Council?
Food Policy Councils (FPCs) bring together stakeholders from diverse food-related sectors to examine how the food system is operating and to develop recommendations on how to improve it. FPCs may take many forms, but are typically either commissioned by state or local government, or predominately a grassroots effort. Food policy councils have been successful at educating officials and the public, shaping public policy, improving coordination between existing programs, and starting new programs. Examples include mapping and publicizing local food resources; creating new transit routes to connect underserved areas with full-service grocery stores; persuading government agencies to purchase from local farmers; and organizing community gardens and farmers’ markets.
- Why the need for Food Policy Councils?
Currently no U.S. government entity has a Department of Food, so food-related issues are addressed by various agencies. This severely limits the potential for coordination, and for government to address broad goals such as improving access to healthy foods. Since they bring together a cross-disciplinary group of stakeholders, Food Policy Councils can help to bridge this gap and identify ways to address interconnected issues and improve the food system.
- How is a Food Policy Council organized?
While FPC’s are not a new concept, their structures, practices, and policies are still evolving. Although the first Food Policy Council started 30 years ago in the city of Knoxville, only in the last decade have Food Policy Councils really gained momentum, and today there are almost 200 active councils nationwide.