Local Food Policy Councils: Getting Started Workshop

Teams from 12 Washington counties gathered on May 15, 2008 for an all day workshop - Local Food Policy Councils: Getting Started. Presentations and materials from the workshop are available at the Access to Healthy Foods Coalition* web site.


Mark Winne

Invited guest Mark Winne engaged the audience in an interactive session on Food Policy Council Basics: the definitions, roles, membership and outcomes. 

What is a “local food policy council”? These groups may have different agendas depending on where they are, who they are and what specific interests they represent, but according to Winne they all have two purposes in common:

  • coordinate stakeholder efforts among non-profit, for-profit and government agencies, and
  • advise decision makers on food system related policies.

Winne shared examples from his experience based on thirty years directing local food organizations in New England, fifteen years working with food policy councils in Connecticut and New Mexico, and co-founding the Community Food Security Coalition.

Richard Conlin

Richard Conlin, Seattle City Council Member and President, and co-founder of Sustainable Seattle offered insights from the local official’s perspective. Conlin was active in passing the Local Food Action Initiative in Seattle, and has been involved with strategies for food security and local food issues.  Conlin announced that with the adoption of the Local Food Action Initiative on April 28 the Seattle Acting Food Policy Council may soon lose its “acting” status to become an official advisory group.  The initiative commits the City, King County and the Seattle-King County Board of Health to join in creating a Food Policy Council and developing a food policy action plan focused on locally grown health food.

Branden Born

Branden Born from the University of Washington, Department of Urban Planning spoke as a member of the King County Acting Food Policy Council (KCAFPC). He stressed the importance of addressing the gaps in the local food system such as hunger and food insecurity, access to markets, urban to rural/city to farmland links.  Born pointed to the complexity of the issues as well as the need to find a common language among members of the Food Policy Council and between the Food Policy Council and decision makers. The KCAFPC has recently been involved in an Eat Local Campaign to increase awareness among residents and has written several white papers on food system issues in King County.

Joan Qazi

Joan Qazi of EAT NCW Coalition (Education & Agriculture Together North Central Washington) talked about Wenatchee Valley’s community food system and EAT NCW Coalition’s experiences bringing together a grass-roots coalition of farmers, nutritionists, educators, retailers, chefs, healthcare workers, anti-hunger advocates and others to strengthen the local food system. EAT is not a “food policy council” yet, but is developing their coalition through meetings, focus groups, and a community food assessment to so that they can build on local assets and their farm economy.  EAT NCW Coalition’s recent farm to table networking meeting brought together more than 100 interested attendees including farmers, retailers and food service providers. 

Kristine Perry

Kristine Perry of Community Choices described progress with the Clark County Food System Council.  This group chose the name “food system” rather than “food policy” to fit into the local political climate. The Clark County Food System Council has four issues-driven teams with the mission to “increase and preserve access to safe, local and healthy food for all residents of Clark County.” The membership includes WSU Extension and support from Steps of Clark County.  A recent success of the group was to influence decision makers to maintain the agricultural nature of  80 acres of land being sold by WSU Extension rather than convert it into a commercial area.


The workshop was sponsored by the Access to Healthy Foods Coalition and the Washington State Department of Health with additional support from Community Food Security Coalition and Washington State Food and Nutrition Council.  Additional members of the Access to Healthy Foods Coalition represented at the workshop included the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Washington Dairy Council, Washington Potato Commission, Washington State Department of Agriculture, and University of Washington – Center for Obesity Research. The twelve counties with teams at the workshop included Chelan, Clark, Kitsap, Kittitas, Jefferson, Grays Harbor, Seattle/King, Snohomish, Spokane, Tacoma/Pierce, Thurston, and Whatcom.

*The Access to Healthy Foods Coalition dissolved in 2013.

For More Information:
  • Access to Healthy Foods Coalition*