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Salt Lake City’s Food Policy Council is Building a More Equitable & Sustainable Food System

by SLCgreen Outreach Coordinator Stephan Sveshnikov

There are over three hundred food policy councils in the U.S., representing towns, cities, tribes, counties, and entire states. Salt Lake City’s Food Policy Council (FPC) is one of three in Utah, with another council in Ogden and one at the state level. Food Policy Councils unite community organizations to help guide policy related to our food systems. They inform local government on everything from food access and urban agriculture to food waste and climate concerns.

Salt Lake City’s Food Policy Council (formerly the Food Policy Task Force) was created in 2009. The group identifies policy and program opportunities and makes recommendation for how to create a more equitable, sustainable, and resilient community food system. Their first project was a sustainable code revision, which made it easier to keep chickens, bees, and grow food in Salt Lake. The FPC has supported the Sustainability Department on a variety of other initiatives over the last decade, including the SLC FruitShare program, the curbside composting program, the Square Kitchen Culinary Incubator, the Local Food Microgrant Fund, and much more. Fourteen members representing various sectors of the food system make up the FPC, from small farmers, to anti-hunger organizations, advocates for immigrant and refugee communities, and representatives of the public health sector.

This year, the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future launched an initiative to help food policy councils around the country confront systemic racism and inequities in their local food systems. Fifteen councils from fifteen different states were selected to participate, including the Salt Lake City FPC! The initiative will help Salt Lake City as our FPC takes its next steps to build a more equitable food system.

Food, Equity, and Sustainability

The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future’s initiative aims to empower food policy councils to advance racial equity and economic justice in their communities. The FPC’s participation in the program aligns with the Sustainability Department’s focus on food equity and the City’s overall efforts to address equity and racism, most recently expressed in the Mayor and City Council’s joint resolution declaring racism a public health crisis. Indeed, barriers to accessing healthy, culturally relevant food are often compounded by other social constraints.

The initiative will build a community of practice to engage with inequity in the food system over two years. According to the John Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, the group will have the opportunity:

  • To learn about integrating racial, economic, and health equity into the work of FPCs
  • To learn to integrate values into the structure, work, and culture of FPCs
  • For personal growth that aligns with the goals of doing transformative work
  • For peer learning where participants commit to applying their learning and then reflecting on practice together
  • To go beyond policy alone to look at other practices, structures, and strategies for transformative change

Empowering A More Equitable Food System

One of the FPC’s next projects is to help Salt Lake City update its 2013 Community Food Assessment using an approach that centers equity, a project that was recommended by the 2020-21 Resident Food Equity Advisors. The updated assessment will create a snapshot of the current state of the City’s food system and will help guide future food policy, programming and planning. Moreover, the assessment will help the FPC connect aspects of our food system from many lenses including climate, waste, and access to culturally relevant and healthy food.

By participating in the John Hopkins Center for a Livable Future’s Food Policy Council initiative, the Salt Lake City FPC will be well positioned to support the Community Food Assessment and take action that will support a more equitable and sustainable food system in Salt Lake City.

The 2021 Salt Lake City Food Policy Council members. Click here to see a bigger picture and read more about them!

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