The Prince George’s County Food Equity Council is a local food policy council. Food policy councils work collaboratively to identify and propose innovative solutions that advance local or regional food systems, in order to spur economic development, improve public health, and ensure environmental sustainability.
- “The food system is a series of interlocking processes that combine: production, processing, distribution, consumption and waste recovery, that together create the complex process by which a population is fed. The food system is the process that food undergoes to reach our plates. It relies on actors who contribute to the food system with labor, policy or education.” (Holt-Gimenez, et al, 2011).
- Food Policy Councils coordinate the multiple sectors and actors that impact and are impacted by the food grown, distributed and consumed in communities.
- Food Policy Councils can focus on both a POLICY agenda (reviewing and making recommendations to decision-makers on laws, ordinances, etc.) and PROGRAMS (e.g., funding strategies and project development). The Prince George’s County Food Equity Council primarily focuses on a policy agenda.
For the Prince George’s County Food Equity Council, the bottom line is people – not just food. Food equity means being able to find healthy, affordable, sustainable, culturally-appropriate, safe food in all neighborhoods. It also means working toward justice and economic opportunity from seed to fork.
This is the first food policy council in the country to be called a Food Equity Council, showing Prince George’s County’s leadership in promoting equity through food system change.
Policies, programs and potential partners in food often operate in “silos,” with structural gaps and a disconnected decision-making process that leads to inefficiencies, inequalities, and instability in the food system. Hunger, obesity, diet-related disease and illness, rising food costs, food contamination, “food deserts”, loss of farmland and lack of rural development are all by-products of the current system.
Food Policy Councils are a deliberate, coordinated attempt to challenge the current structure and close the gaps to create healthy, vibrant food economies and communities. There are over 150 active Food Policy Councils at regional, state and local levels throughout the U.S. Examples include: Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Food Policy Council (OH), Montgomery County Food Council (MD), Philadelphia Food Policy Advisory Council (PA), Muscogee Creek Nation Food and Fitness Policy Council (OK), Southern Maryland Community Food Council, and Michigan Food Policy Council.
Food Policy Councils serve as a democratic platform to elevate the voice and connectivity of farmers, grassroots organizations, low-income residents, business leaders, health advocates, educators and others who are often not at the table when food, farm, anti-hunger, nutrition and community development/land use policies are being developed.
We work on policies related to the following goals:
- Develop and advance comprehensive policies and programs to address the social determinants of food equity and related health effects.
- Integrate food system planning into all County economic and community development.
- Ensure the availability, affordability, and accessibility of healthy, sustainable, culturally appropriate food for all who eat in Prince George’s County.
- Expand the reach and impact of nutrition programs for low-income people including federal nutrition assistance programs and emergency food assistance.
- Create countywide awareness of the role healthy food plays in the health and well-being of residents.