New Report: Planning for Food Access and Community-Based Food Systems
By Kimberley Hodgson, originally posted on www.cultivatinghealthyplaces.com, December 10, 2012.
The American Planning Association published a new report that outlines the results of a three-year, multi-phased research study that identified and evaluated the food access and food system components of local government plans in the U.S.
Planning for Food Access and Community-Based Food Systems: A National Scan and Evaluation of Local Comprehensive and Sustainability Plans is a free, 175-page report that is divided into four main sections and provides detailed results and analyses for each phase of the study:
Section 1: National Survey
The survey identified 80 comprehensive plans and 25 sustainability plans that explicitly addressed an aspect of local or regional food systems. The five most-cited food system topics in the identified comprehensive and sustainability plans were rural agriculture, food access and availability, urban agriculture, food retail, and food waste.
Section 2: Plan Evaluations
A sample of plans (13 comprehensive plans and 8 sustainability plans) was selected for in-depth plan evaluation. Plans were evaluated for how they support and advance principles of a healthy, sustainable food system; how they promote access to safe, nutritious, affordable, culturally appropriate, and sustainably grown food; how they address implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of the food-related goals and policies; and the overall quality of food-related goals and policies.
Section 3: Case Studies
The research team conducted and recorded semi-structured, key informant phone interviews with local government planners and other stakeholders from 15 of the 21 selected plans to learn more about the food access and food systems planning process.
Section 4: Recommendations and Sample Plan Language
The final section of the report provides recommendations for municipalities and counties that are engaging in (or beginning to engage in) food access and food systems planning; sample plan language of food systems related vision statements, goals, policies, action items and implementation mechanisms; as well as data collection and assessment tools to monitor and evaluate changes in the local food system over time.
Ms. Hodgson is Visiting Sustainability and Public Health Fellow for the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech. She is also founder of Cultivating Healthy Places, a consulting business specializing in community health, social equity, and resilient food systems planning. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.