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Study looks at efforts to improve local food systems through policy
Date:8/31/2012

Communities attempting to improve their local food system are increasingly creating food policy councils as an important tool in that effort, but little research has been done into how those councils are functioning.

A team of Johns Hopkins researchers recently conducted a nationwide survey of food policy councils to try to fill some of this research gap. Their results were published online August 24 by the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems and Community Development.

"All over the U.S., food policy councils are bringing together stakeholders to examine how the food system is operating and to develop ways to improve it," said Keshia Pollack, PhD, an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and one of the authors of the study, which was funded by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. "This study is the first to comprehensively explore how food policy councils across the country are using policy to improve the food system."

The study identified 92 active food policy councils across the U.S. at the time of the survey, and 56 of these councils are included in the survey results. Meanwhile, the Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC) documented 80 percent growth in the number of food policy councils in the U.S. between 2010 and 2012 alone.

Food policy councils get involved in a range of food system topics, promoting policies that increase access to healthy foods for low-income people, support local sustainable agriculture, or improve the food-purchasing practices of large institutions such as schools, hospitals, and government entities.

Some food policy councils get only as far as identifying food system problems and educating the public about food system issues but stop short of doing direct policy work such as formulating policy proposals or advocating for existing proposals. Survey respondents reported some of the main barriers to food policy councils doing this kind
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Contact: Tim Parsons
tmparson@jhsph.edu
410-955-7619
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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