What is a Food Policy Council?
Problems of food policy have typically been addressed in a piecemeal fashion, with each of the food sectors working independently. The challenge of the food movement is to collect all aspects of food production and distribution into a coherent whole that assures nutritional accessible, safe, and available food for all. A Food Policy Council (FPC) offers a forum for the collaboration between community members, organizational representatives, producers, and the many other individuals engaged with questions related to food.
FPCs are part of a broader community-based food systems approach. They comprehensively evaluate existing conditions of their community’s food system, address gaps, and support promising programs and practices in order to help the various sectors support one another. Over time, such councils serve to create partnerships that further ensure support for a lively, healthy, and people- focused food system.
Functions of Food Policy Councils:
- To serve as forums for discussing and advancing food issues
- To advance research in support of behavioral change
- To foster coordination between sectors in the food system
- To evaluate, advance, prepare and influence policy
- To launch or support programs that address food-related needs
- To promote food, health, and well-being
Why Focus on Food?
The New London County Food Policy Council is a response to multiple health and needs assessments done in the region. Backus Hospital’s 2010 community health assessment determined that obesity was the top health risk facing the region: 80% of African-Americans, 68.7% White, and 75.2% Hispanic/Latino residents are overweight or obese, statistics that are disproportionately higher than those of of other regions of the United States. Obesity increases the incidence and potential of diabetes in the region and increases the costs of healthcare.
In 2011, the United Way of Southeastern Connecticut published a needs assessment (conducted in collaboration with Lawrence and Memorial Hospital of New London and the Center for Research and Public Policy in Vermont) that corroborated Backus Hospital's results. 69% of respondents listed food/hunger as a priority area for the region, and over a third noted the significance of nutrition and fitness/obesity.