Should We Conduct a Community Food Assessment in Our City?

Has my community already conducted a community food assessment? Should we? Thinking through these questions can help you decide how to move forward.

First things first. Has a community food assessment already been conducted recently in your community?  

  • Find out: For listings of some of the community food assessments conducted around the country, see case studies or search your area with the term “community food assessment” to see if someone has conducted one already.
  • Reach out: Speak with community-based organizations, city or town officials, your local cooperative extension office or local newspaper to learn about assessments that are happening or have been done in your community. It may give you a head start! Even if it’s not explicitly a food assessment, chances are the data and findings may still be relevant and inform the groundwork for your food-focused research.


If a CFA has been conducted in your community: 

  • Reach out to whoever who led the process, find out what recommendations have been made and how you can plug in. Get involved in follow-up actions — whether creation of a food policy council, political advocacy, creation of a farmers’ market, or other practical steps to building food security in your community.
  • A community food assessment is the first step in food system change. It illuminates what needs to be done, but it is what comes after the CFA that is most important! For more information on farmers’ marketsfarm to cafeteria programs and other elements of a sustainable food system, and for more ideas, browse around the topics in the Food Security Learning Center.


If a CFA hasn’t been conducted in your community:

  • Get the gears turning! Start talking to people who you think would want to collaborate to conduct a CFA. This includes friends, neighbors, school administration, local farmers and gardeners, elected officials, faith leaders – anyone who has a stake in the local food system.
  • Check out the hands-on toolkits and information gathering sections here to get started.


Updated 6/2013