Community Food Strategies
Community Food Strategies helps community-based coalitions organize to improve their food system. Our multi-organizational team provides networking opportunities and technical support to communities interested in food council development across North Carolina.
Local food councils are cross-sector, community organizations that help promote more resilient food systems. They identify and strengthen connections between food, health, natural resource protection, economic development, and production agriculture. Using this cross-sector approach, food councils solve broad food system issues and give communities more control over the food they consume.
Recognizing the power of collective impact, CEFS took a lead role in initiating this collaborative approach to strengthening the capacity of local communities to define and improve their own local food system. In addition to CEFS, Community Food Strategies partners include the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, and Care Share Health Alliance. The project team focuses on facilitative leadership and peer-to-peer networking to strengthen partnerships and cultivate leaders.
A Statewide Network of Local Food Councils
A network of food councils is developing across NC with the support of the Community Food Strategies project team and the Local Food Council of North Carolina (LFCNC), which serves as the statewide food council for North Carolina. LFCNC represents various statewide organizations, agencies, and groups and aims to foster coordinated support for NC local food systems and facilitate formal and informal food-related policy discussions. Food councils stay engaged and connected through local and regional events, social media, and regular conference calls.
Who Makes Up a Food Council?
Councils should be intentionally cross-sector with representation from six sectors that make up the whole measures, or values, for a community-based food system: 1) Thriving local economies, 2) Vibrant farms and gardens, 3) Justice and fairness, 4) Strong communities/supportive policy, 5) Resilient ecosystems, and 6) Healthy people.
Councils often include representation or organized communication with the following groups: County Commissioners, planning departments, public schools (ag teachers, nutrition directors, parents, students), Cooperative Extension, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, public health and/or hospital centers, local banks, food pantries, faith communities, community colleges or universities, economic development staff, local restaurants and business owners.
Potential Food Council Actions
Each food council is unique and their work depends on the resources and interests of the community they serve. Examples of actions food councils may take include:
- Recommend policy and program change by working with their networks to inform local governments and institutions on policies and laws that affect the local food system.
- Assess the current food system by engaging expert practitioners and seeking community input to better understand a community’s food environment
- Connect stakeholders to align efforts by working with decision makers and program leaders to better align programs. encourage collaboration, and build connections.
- Educate leaders and the community by creating fact sheets, supporting community outreach efforts, and hosting educational events.
North Carolina Food Policy Council listserv
Community Food Strategies maintains the foodpolicycouncil listserv, which is intended to connect food councils and those interested in farm and food policy and food councils in and around North Carolina.
This Food Policy Council listserv (firstname.lastname@example.org) serves as a forum for educational, funding, and networking opportunities related to food councils. Use this listserv to share:
- Events, articles, educational opportunities, and ideas
- Technical questions
- Job postings and opportunities specifically related to farm and food policy
For more information on this initiative, visit: www.communityfoodstrategies.org
Community Food Strategies News
Even though it is only 7 a.m., the conference center is buzzing with activity. Representatives from food councils across North Carolina have called an impromptu meeting to discuss a response to federal budget cuts which threaten funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, the largest program in the domestic hunger safety net.
We continue to be inspired by these convenings as a way to strengthen relationships and voices to build power in our local communities.
Partnerships to Elevate Local Food Policy: Community Food Strategies, Plate of the Union and Local Food Councils
Community Food Strategies is embarking on a new collaborative partnership this fall with Plate of the Union, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, and local food councils in Alamance, Durham, and Mecklenberg Counties to bring greater awareness of food and farm issues at local, regional, and national levels.