What is a Food Policy Council?
Food policy councils examine the local food system and make policy recommendations in order to improve that system. Food councils bring together local actors from various areas such as health, nutrition, anti-poverty, education, environment, business, and agriculture. Despite their connection to food, these sectors are often fragmented. Food policy councils serve as forums for discussion and as platforms for action on food issues. Food policy councils aim to provide targeted solutions to complex policy challenges including poverty, the environment, housing, health, economy, land-use planning, transportation, energy and education.
Councils take various approaches to their work. Actions food councils may take include public awareness campaigns, education programs, research, community food assessments, advising on policy, improving coordination between existing food policies or programs, publicizing community food resources, and hosting public forums on food system topics. Regardless of their actions, one of the key characteristics of food policy councils is the creation of strong partnerships and collaboration between a wide array of citizens, organizations, agencies, businesses, and government, in order to give voice to food system issues and generate strategies to address those concerns.
What is the York Region Food Policy Council?
The York Region Food Council was born out of the York Region Food Charter, and is housed within the York Region Food Network. The Council is made up of representatives from York Region and the municipalities that make up the Region, Public Health, York University, Seneca, the farming community, and more.
The York Region Food Council envisions a community where health and social justice are prioritized and all residents have economic and physical access to healthy, local, culturally acceptable and environmentally sustainable food.
Create an Engaged and Diverse Group
Bring together a diverse group of stakeholders with various interests in local food systems in order to educate on local food and farming issues that are relevant in the community and to promote healthy dignified food access for all.
Support Existing and New Projects
Support existing local food system projects and promote future initiatives.
Build Capacity to Influence Change
Establish capability and build capacity for the Council that is complementary and not immediately available within any one agency to reduce inequities and build a health-focused local food system.
Advocate: Identify policy changes which support our vision and goals and advocate for their implementation.
Communicate: Engage with the community on relevant and timely issues through the sharing of information and involvement in action teams.
Coordinate and Collaborate: Identify and prioritize food system needs and support the creation of and implementation of initiatives.
Educate: Share knowledge
Evaluate: Establish benchmarks and targets for achievement of vision and goals. Monitor and report on the progress.
Leverage: Seek resources to support the implementation of the Council’s projects.
Network: Build new partnerships and facilitate networking between existing and emerging food system stakeholders.
Research: Conduct research on emerging local food system priorities where information gaps exist. on health and social justice and the importance of economic and physical access to healthy, culturally acceptable and environmentally sustainable food.