Policy & Advocacy: Food Policy Councils

Across the country food policy councils are convening and developing innovative farm and food policies. Take a look at successful examples, resources, and existing support for developing a food policy council.

A food policy can be as broad as a federal regulation on GMOs or food labeling and as specific as a local zoning law that lets city dwellers raise chickens or honeybees.

This section gives links to policy models, it is important to note that the process of putting together a food policy or food systems council is unique in each case. There are many different legislative models, and it is essential that each council understand which one best addresses the needs of the community. Seasoned food policy council advocate Ken Dahlberg points out: “We don’t want to reinvent the wheel; but we must find the right wheel (i.e., programs and systems of advocacy) for each particular vehicle (i.e. organizational structure).”


Policy to Establish Food Policy Councils

Federal Policy

Existing federal support for food policy councils includes the Community Food Project (CFP) program, which funds community coalitions working together to build food security.

State and Local Policy

Policy can also be leveraged to establish a food policy council at the local or state level. Author and food policy council expert Mark Winne’s website has a comprehensive listing of state and local food policy councils, along with additional practical resources.

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future also highlights examples of local legislation and state legislation related to food policy.


Advocacy by food policy councils and food systems councils should be understood within the growing community food justice movement, which links anti-hunger, sustainable agriculture, nutrition, food access, sovereignty, and other sectors of the food system, and encourages examining the intersections between these issues.

Many examples of model programs with effective advocacy by food policy and food systems councils are detailed in a handbook from the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, Food Security Begins at Home: Creating Food Coalitions in the South (Chapter 4). Groups like these research and monitor barriers to community-based and self-determined food systems, they pave the way for projects that effectively address community needs.

Media advocacy is an essential part of food system advocacy. Food systems councils can often be more a form of advocacy than of direct policy-making. FSCs bring constituents together from many sectors around the food system to educate and inform policymakers. These coalitions can be very effective advocates for change in the food system – including advocating for creation of the government level food policy council.


Updated 12/2014