Food System Planning, Management and Policy

A strong, vibrant and resilient food system requires thoughtful community planning, holistic management and policies to provide for the current and future needs of communities and the population. The information and recommendations below come directly from pages 32 – 33 of the Virginia Farm to Table Plan and highlights organizations, agencies, universities and community partners working on food system planning and policy issues.

Objective: To develop and implement local and regional landuse, economic development, public health, and environmental goals, programs and policies to promote economic sustainability, ecological integrity and social justice within a defined geographic region through civic engagement. Community planners and government officials play an integral role in designing and planning healthy, sustainable local and regional food systems to support and enhance the overall public, social, ecological, and economic health of communities.

Community food system planning will plan programs and policies that consider the health, culture and economy comprehensively and holistically for existing and future opportunities.

Benefits of recommendations: Community food system planning as defined by the American Planning Association will preserve existing and support new opportunities for local and regional urban and rural agriculture; promote sustainable agriculture and food production practices; support local and regional food value chains and related infrastructure involved in the processing, packaging, and distribution of food; facilitate community food security, or equitable physical and economic access to safe, nutritious, culturally appropriate, and sustainably grown food at all times across a community, especially among vulnerable populations; support and promote good nutrition and health, and; facilitate the reduction of solid food-related waste and develop a reuse, recovery, recycling, and disposal system for food waste and related packaging (American Planning Association, 2011).

Community food system planning can include the following actions:

• Building partnerships and consensus with non-planners and food system stakeholders
• Visioning, goal-setting, and prioritizing
• Local and regional assessments and mapping
• Plan-making
• Creating standards, guidelines, recommendations
• Regulating, codifying, and clarifying to eliminate barriers
• Marketing, outreach, and education
• Supporting pilot projects, demonstrations, and educational research to inform the general public
• Targeting public and private investments

(Source: American Planning Association)

Possible partners: American Planning Association, Crossroads Resource Center, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, Rural SCALE, SustainFloyd Piedmont Environmental Council, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Virginia State University, Virginia Tech, USDA and others.

Recommendations:

1.1 Work with the Virginia Food System Council to remove barriers that impede the development and expansion of the production, processing, distribution, and marketing capacity of locally-grown Virginia foods.

1.2 Work with state and federal agencies and institutions to increase their support of locally-grown Virginia food and farm products.

1.3 Set measurable goals and track procurement purchases and costs of Virginia Grown products for all state agencies, schools, universities and institutions.

1.4 Assess the economic and environmental impacts of local and regional food systems on localities.

1.5 Provide education, resource, and policy support for the Virginia Farm-to-School program to increase the amount of local food procured in Virginia’s public schools.

1.6 Evaluate and suggest adjustments for purchasing policies of local and state government entities to encourage or incentivize local food procurement.

1.7 Assess the current capacity and participation of localities and permitted waste management facilities in food and organic waste diversion and composting programs.

1.8 Assess, develop and adopt incentives and technical assistance for Third Party Verification programs, including but not limited to USDA Certified Organic, to add further value to Virginia foods based on land management and natural resource conservation.

1.9 Establish a marketing campaign to challenge Virginia households and businesses to buy $10 per week of locally-grown food for one year.

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