Regional food policy work has emerged as a promising approach to developing equitable, sustainable, and vibrant food and agriculture systems. Yet, there is a need for much more resources and information to support the work of practitioners working at this scale. So it is exciting that a new project being led by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA AMS), Ohio State University, the John Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, and Colorado State University is aimed at better understanding regional approaches to strengthening food systems.
This past November, the Hudson Valley Food System Coalition (HVFSC) was selected to participate in this project. HVFSC is a regional coalition established in 2019 with a goal of developing cross-sector collaborations among individuals and organizations from the nonprofit, government, philanthropic, and for-profit sectors to create meaningful and lasting change in our food system. Glynwood has been a partner in building HVFSC since its inception.
This opportunity was won through a competitive application process after a thorough review of over 50 applications by a team of project organizers, 11 food policy councils from across the country, including HVFSC, were selected to form a community of practice for the 18-month project. As part of this community, the HVFSC will help guide research and the creation of resources to support other councils in reaching the project’s goals.
The HVFSC will be represented in the council by Coalition Founder/Director and Food System Strategy Consultant Sarah Salem, Deputy Director of the Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Corporation Mary Ann Johnson, and Glynwood’s own Senior Director of Regional Food Programs, Megan Larmer.
“The Hudson Valley Food System Coalition is proud to contribute to this incredible effort in our ongoing work to bolster regional food systems investments,” said Sarah Salem.
Megan Larmer, who acts as a Co-facilitator of the coalition, added, "I am thrilled to be a part of this and can’t wait to see what comes out of this exciting opportunity. Learning about challenges and best practices from leaders in this arena from across the nation will help us to navigate this moment as we lay a solid foundation and ambitious vision for our next phase of organizing.”
The community of practice will explore what makes a regional approach work by conducting participatory research on regional governance and policy, food policy council structures and processes for regional collaboration; compiling best practices for developing and strengthening urban-rural linkages; examining opportunities for regional food policy councils to leverage expertise as supply chain matchmakers; and building the capacity of food policy councils that are taking a regional approach.
“Changing our food system to be fairer and more equitable is a complex challenge and I am excited to learn from our colleagues around the country through this opportunity,” said Mary Ann Johnson, Co-facilitator of the HVFSC.
In addition to the Hudson Valley Food System Coalition, the community of practice will include representatives from the Boston Food Access Council (MA), Cass Clay Food Partners (ND/MN), Columbia Gorge Food Security Coalition (OR/WA), Food Policy Council for Fresno County (CA), Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council (OH), Just Foods Collaborative of Nash and Edgecombe Counties (NC), Metropolitan Washington Food Policy Directors/Food Security Coordinators Work Group (DC, MD, VA), Northwest Indiana Food Council (IN), Roanoke Foodshed Network (VA), and Western Prairie Food, Farm, and Community Alliance (KS).
For more information on this project, visit https://localfoodeconomics.com/regional-fpc/.
For more information on the Hudson Valley Food System Coalition, visit www.hvfoodsystem.org.