Establishing a local food policy council

By Jen Maguire and May Patiño


Why start a food policy council?

Motivations for starting an FPC can vary from an individual wanting to increase access to local food at their child’s school, to a public health employee wanting to better promote policies for healthy eating, or a collection of farmer’s wanting to improve the coordination of their distribution routes.

If you’d like to learn more about engaging with an existing food policy council, visit our page on working with your local food policy council.



How to start your local food policy council if one does not exist in your community:

  1. Identify regional food systems stakeholders
  2. Develop a planning committee
  3. Assess the community’s needs
  4. Establish committee framework
  5. Take action to meet goals
  6. Evaluate
  7. Network and market the council
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Regional factors to consider when starting a FPC:

  • Political climate
  • Geography
  • Scope
  • Capacity
  • Funding
  • Environment
  • Demographics
  • Food system gaps

Currently, the majority of food policy councils are independent of local government, but they can be “sanctioned” by government through a resolution or city ordinance.


Sample Goals for food policy councils

  • Increase and improve access to nutritious, affordable and culturally suitable foods for all people
  • Assess availability of markets with a variety of healthy food and agricultural products in surrounding communities
  • Encourage nutrition education in schools, hospitals, homeless and domestic violence shelters, senior living homes, alcohol and other drug treatment facilities, jails/prisons, etc.
  • Build sustainable food systems through vibrate and innovative cross-sector public and private partnerships
  • Promote household and community gardens and community supported agriculture
  • Promote buying/utilizing local food
  • Promote local food processing
  • Develop emergency feeding programs
  • Promote local farmers markets
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Sample local food council policy advocacy opportunities

  • Facilitate policies for preferential purchasing maximizing available locally-grown and processed products
  • Facilitate policies to ensure foods served meet nutrition standards
  • Work with school districts and higher education institutions on healthy low-cost and free breakfast and lunch programs
  • Set healthy farm-to-work policies, and lactation support policies.
  • Implement breastfeeding policies with hospitals and health care providers.
  • Implement local zoning policies to restrict marketing of unhealthy foods to kids.
  • Local policies to support home gardening, beekeeping, and backyard chicken ordinances.
  • Promote healthy environments for food production and distribution
  • Sustainable healthy food production
  • Food waste/recovery
  • Food procurement
  • Economic and small business development
  • Food labor force issues
  • Anti-hunger
  • Healthy food access
  • Land use/planning


  • Universities and college foundations
  • Grocers
  • Farmers
  • Faith-based leaders
  • School and other institutional personnel
  • Distributors
  • Wholesalers
  • Producers
  • Government officials
  • Environmental workers
  • Health care workers
  • Health clinics
  • Hospitals
  • Public health
  • Scholars
  • Non-profit workers
  • Educators
  • Chefs
  • Researchers
  • Policy advocates
  • Public officials
  • Other food groups


A Deeper Look into FPC’s: Spotlight on the Humboldt Food Policy Council

Who is the Humboldt Food Policy Council?

The Humboldt Food Policy Council (HFPC) is a network of food system stakeholders located in rural Northern California that includes grocers, farmers, public health, hospitals, economic developers, local food advocates, planners, food pantries, educators and consumers.

Their mission is to enhance the regional food system, making it more equitable, culturally appropriate, and both environmentally and economically sustainable by facilitating collaborative partnerships of diverse stakeholders throughout the food system.

What is the Humboldt Food Policy Council working on?

The overall goal of the HFPC is to build a strong local and equitable food system through targeted policy changes. Some of the HFPC’s areas of interest include:

  • Healthy Food Access and Education
  • Planning / Land Use
  • Agricultural Production
  • Food Processing
  • Farm-to-Institution
  • Food Insecurity
  • Distribution
  • Food Waste

How is the Humboldt Food Policy Council structured?

The HFPC operates under the provisions outlined in their Charter. Membership categories include Associate and Voting Members. The HFPC holds alternating monthly business and educational meetings, as well as regional events. Subcommittees provide critical work for helping the HFPC accomplish their vision.

Examples of subcommittees held by the HFPC include:

  • Steering Committee (standing)
  • Educational Committee (standing)
  • Policy Committee (standing)
  • PR & Outreach Committee (standing)
  • Food Deserts (ad hoc)
  • Food Summit Planning Committee (ad hoc)