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The Prince George’s County Food Equity Council is a local food policy council that works to help local residents grow, sell, and choose healthy food.

Food is life. It affects us daily and defines who we are. From kids who depend on food to develop healthy brains and bodies, to adults who rely on food to manage weight, prevent disease, and live productive lives, food connects us all. What we eat matters.

We’re told that eating fresh foods is key to a healthy lifestyle. Yet, healthier foods are generally more expensive and, in some areas, hard to come by. In our area, despite it being one of the most affluent minority communities in the U.S., many of our neighbors lack access to healthy food options. We’re changing that.

Since 2013, our council has been a voice for County residents at the policymaking table. We work with County leaders to find permanent solutions to improve our food system. We focus on systematic and sustainable changes to Prince George’s County’s public health challenges (i.e., hunger, diet-related chronic disease, and food deserts that lack healthy food options) by advocating for policy that creates a more equitable local food system.

Did you know that locally-grown food is not only fresher and healthier but also good for the environment and great for our economy? That’s why, over the past four years, we’ve helped our local farmers and small food businesses survive and thrive by partnering with key influencers and policymakers to change laws. Local farmers markets now enjoy a more streamlined permitting process, reduced fees and regulations, and extended operating hours. Food trucks are providing new entrepreneurship opportunities for County residents and delicious and diverse fare in areas lacking brick-and-mortar options.

We’ve also made great strides for urban farming. Were you aware that before 2016, Prince George’s County zoning laws only allowed one urban farm countywide? Today, 73% of county land is rezoned for urban farming, which means more residents can grow healthy food, engage directly with their food source, and enjoy greener spaces. As a result, residents can also benefit from supplemental income, community unification, lower crime, and increased property values. As a bonus, urban farmers can get up to $5,000 in property tax credits annually.

Prince George’s County Food Equity Council knows there’s still more work to be done and we can’t do it alone. We’re on a mission to lift our community and are looking for caring local residents to help us. We’re a group of hometown leaders and changemakers committed to bringing better food to every fork. And that involves active collaboration between residents, local businesses, and County government.

OUR MISSION

The mission of the Prince George’s County Food Equity Council is to significantly improve public health and community well-being of all who live, work, study, worship and play in the County. We develop and support policies, approaches, procedures, practices and initiatives that create systemic change to the local food system, promoting health, economic opportunity, food security, and wellbeing, especially among communities that have been negatively impacted by the current food system.

OUR BACKGROUND

The Prince George’s County Food Equity Council developed out of the Port Towns Community Health Partnership (PTCHP), a collaboration of community residents, organizations and funders, all working together to support healthy living in the Port Towns of Prince Georges County. From January 2013 through September 2013, a task force was charged with developing guidelines for the structure and function of a food policy council. The task force was chaired by Maryland Hunger Solutions and made up of employees from ECO City Farms, the Institute for Public Health Innovation, Maryland Hunger Solutions, Prince George’s County Planning Department, the Prince George’s County Health Department, and Prince George’s County Extension office.

The task force officially named the policy council the Prince George’s County Food Equity Council, demonstrating Prince George’s County’s leadership in, and commitment to, promoting equity through food system change. In recognition of this commitment, the County Council of Prince George’s County passed a resolution on July 9, 2013, formally endorsing the formation of the FEC and granting it an annual hearing with the full County Council to present its findings.

The FEC officially launched on October 26th, 2013. The FEC was incubated and is currently housed within the Institute for Public Health Innovation (IPHI). The role of IPHI is to ensure that the FEC has the capacity and support it needs to be productive and sustainable and to provide financial and administrative support as its fiscal sponsor.

The Food Equity Council is generously supported by a Prince George's County Council Non-Departmental Grant and Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States. 


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