Governments across the U.S. and Canada have made strides in their food systems planning efforts, with many recognizing within the past decade that the issue of food insecurity is just as important as maintaining other public infrastructure like roads and water systems.
Still, questions remain: How are local governments engaging in the food system? Who are they engaging with, and who are they leaving out? How is government involvement advancing or impeding the creation of equitable and just food systems? How are their efforts being measured, and how should they change what they’re doing?
These are among the key questions addressed in a special issue of the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, published Wednesday. It is the world’s only peer-reviewed journal focused specifically on food and farming-related community development.
The special issue was co-edited by Samina Raja, professor of urban and regional planning in the University at Buffalo’s School of Architecture and Planning, along with Jill Clark, associate professor in The Ohio State University John Glenn College of Public Affairs; Kimberly Hodgson, founder and principal consultant of Cultivating Healthy Places; and Julia Freedgood, assistant vice president of programs for the American Farmland Trust.
Food systems are the soil-to-soil systems that enable food to travel from farm to plate, explains Raja, who is also principal investigator of the Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab housed within UB’s School of Architecture and Planning.
“Engagement in food systems planning is no longer a new concern for local governments,” the co-editors write in their accompanying editorial in the special issue. “Local governments across North America have developed, enacted and, indeed, implemented policies that are ostensibly designed to strengthen food systems.”