Learning from Food Policy Advocates – Los Angeles Food Policy Council

Meeting of Los Angeles Food Policy Council - photo credit: LAFPC's facebook

Bi-monthly meeting of Los Angeles Food Policy Council – photo credit: LAFPC’s facebook

I attended my first LA Food Policy Council meeting in the Spring of 2012 and was blown away by the amount of people attending (over 75!), the diversity of perspective, ages and approaches all coming together in a welcoming setting to address Food Policy – and was quickly struck by the thought, “how amazing would this be to have a gathering table like this for active living ideas.”

Many partners working on active transportation policy, safe routes to school, public safety, shared use, green space, and other ways to increase safe places to play, travel and transform our LA built environment are interested in coming together at a larger collective table as the Los Angeles Food Policy Council has effectively demonstrated.  So, this week, several partners working on Active Living Policy, sat down with LAFPC staff for a conversation on their history, creation and lessons learned.

Los Angeles Food Policy Council (LAFPC) was created by the Mayor of Los Angeles in January 2011, and operates as an initiative with a 35 member Food Policy Council and staff that support the larger coalition that is impressively compromised of over 300 individual stakeholders and over 150 organizations from the public, private, non-profit and academic Greater LA region.  The Council’s goal is to make Southern California a Good Food Region for everyone – where food is healthy, affordable, fair and sustainable.

The organization of the LA Food Policy Council meetings is admirable, and definitely something that I noticed immediately.  I have been part of coalitions or joined existing efforts where I was unsure of goals, decision makers, and purpose.  The LAFPC seems to be proactively trying to avoid that from happening in their work and with their partners.  New participants are asked to attend an orientation before the general plenary meeting and then are invited to join any of the 7 work groups (which meet directly after the brief plenary/general meeting)  but need to temper their input to the work group if it one’s first meeting.  Much of the LAFC work is advanced by the working groups who by leadership within those groups significantly contribute to advancing the LA Region Food Policy Agenda.

LAFPC’s 7 Working Groups:

  • Good Food Economy
  • Street Food
  • Good Food Procurement
  • Farmers’ Markets
  • Healthy Food Retail
  • Urban Agriculture
  • School Food and Gardens

Would the Los Angeles Region benefit from a Active Living Policy Council? While reviewing their guiding documents, I can’t help but be struck by the parallels of the built environment policy decisions and investments, “traditionally, the food system is addressed by an array of government departments without coordination or recognition of impacts across food sectors.”  If you are interested in talking more about this idea, please email me as we are interested in talking with partners who may be interested in this happening and being a part of it.

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