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What is the mission of the Food Systems Working Group?

The Food Systems Working Group (FSWG) seeks to improve our understanding of the Sonoma County food system by creating a baseline of available data.  The purpose of this baseline, or ‘Food Assessment’, is to help to identify positive changes in local policy, and to stimulate formation of a food policy council and inform their work.

The FSWG is exploring available data in Sonoma County, identifying gaps in knowledge and creating an initial snapshot of the local food system.

A food system is defined as the local production, processing, distribution, marketing, consumption and disposal of food.  Some of the characteristics of a dynamic and equitable food system are: Food Access, Economic Vitality, Resource Stewardship, Resiliency, Opportunity and Justice for Workers, and Food Choices that Support Personal and Community Health.


What Policy change initiatives are being proposed?

A permanent, local Food Policy Council is the ideal body for taking a comprehensive look at how to support and encourage farmers in growing healthful food for consumers in Sonoma County, improve land use, strengthen farmers markets, advocate for community and school gardens and address the particular needs of low-income residents. Image: Rachel. Photography by Doug Gosling, Occidental Arts & Ecology Center

Our strategic focus is to establish Food Policy Councils within each city and the county. These Councils will provide ongoing advice and input to City and County staff on food-related issues as needed; develop a set of governing principles to guide future local government and community decision making related to food issues; and identify and report back to City Councils and the County Board on options for making systemic changes to the food flow within the county.

As a priority policy change initiative, the FSWG plans to research model ordinances and policies developed and implemented in other cities and counties and well-suited to local needs, resources, and community readiness to improve access to healthy food

What other organizations in Sonoma County are working on Food Assessments?

The Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy’s most recent graduating class of 2008 conducted a food basket survey of the County to assess local food availabilitImage: Chard.  Photography by Doug Gosling, Occidental Arts & Ecology Centery, affordability and access. Communities of Excellence in Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity Prevention (CX3) is also conducting a food assessment in the Sonoma Valley, Petaluma and the SW Santa Rosa area of the County, and Petaluma Bounty is assessing the food system in Petaluma.


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Recommended Resources

What’s Cooking in Your Food System? A GUIDE TO COMMUNITY

Vivid Picture Project - New Mainstream

What Do People Want to Know About Their Food? Measuring Central Coast Consumers’ Interest in Food Systems Issues

Network for a Healthy California - GIS Map Viewer
The application contains a rich set of nutrition and other health related data

From the Redwoods to the Vineyards: North Coast Children on the Brink of a Health Crisis

Mapping School Food: A Policy Guide

Food Circles Networking Project: Building Community-Based Food Systems to Enhance Food Security in Missouri, A Joint Project of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center and the University of Missouri

Analyzing local food systems for success: Naming and graphing entrepreneurial and community based agriculture linkages, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture

Community Food Assessment Program

Clustering of fast-food restaurants around schools: a novel application of spatial statistics to the study of food environments.

Hunger Maps

Policy Guide on Community and Regional Food Planning

Community Food Assessment: A First Step in Planning for Community Food Security by Kameshwari Pothukuchi

LifeCycles Good Food Directory

Sustainable Melbourne urban food production map

Region of Waterloo Food Flow Analysis ED787F44ACA44C852571410056AEB0/$file/FFS.pdf?openelement

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Photography by Doug Gosling, Occidental Arts & Ecology Center.
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