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Perspective: Mark Winne on Food Policy Councils

By WorldLink Staff | July 19, 2011 | Leave a Comment

We’re excited to be bringing new faces and topics to the table in Nourish Perspectives, a growing library of Q&A articles featuring leading voices from the food movement.

In this new Perspective, Mark Winne, author of Closing the Food Gap and Food Policy Council Program Director for the Community Food Security Coalition, discusses how food policy councils can help us create a more democratic food system.

Stay tuned for fresh perspectives on building a sustainable food future. Is there a topic you’d like to see covered? Let us know.

What is a food policy council?

Mark Winne: Think of it as a potluck supper where you’ve invited a farmer, a food bank director, a couple of gardeners, a local chef, a grocery store manager, and local government officials, including a planner, educator, and maybe an elected member of the city council. The dishes your guests bring represent what they each know about their food system, such as the challenges of being a farmer, the issues facing the community’s hungry people, and the ways that city government works. Over dessert, everyone agrees on two things: we need to do a better job of coordinating our food work (fewer potato salads next time), and we need government’s help (public policy must be on our side).

How do you develop and operate a food policy council?

Mark Winne: To continue the potluck metaphor for a bit, let’s say you decide the party was such a success that you all agree to have one every month. But before the next gathering, everyone commits to learning a little more about your food system. For example, you might document some of the gaps and needs that you already understand intuitively, but that you need to know more about quantitatively. We call this a community food assessment, a more systematic and comprehensive approach to understanding our community’s food assets and liabilities.

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