Start a Food Council

Giving Local Food Systems a Voice in Your Community

If you’re interested in starting a food council in your community, first look at this map and see if a food council already exists. If so, get involved!

If you’re here, you have an idea of what a food council is, who is likely to be involved, and the benefits and actions of food councils.

If not, read through these resources and contact Community Food Strategies for support and consultation. Community Food Strategies is a dynamic project team that works to expand the capacity of local food councils across North Carolina though consultation, resources, workshops, and networking opportunities. Based on Community Food Strategies Food Council Development toolkit, begin by having multiple conversations with community members or colleagues that have an interest in local food systems or farm-to-table work. The power behind food councils is having the community voice with multiple perspectives gathering information about the current food and farm environment, researching opportunities, and then proposing solutions and improvements. Food councils can provide an avenue for dialogue between their decision makers and elected officials.

To start a local food council in your community, you need a few things:

People – Gather at least 7-10 people with multiple perspectives/experiences, who will show up for at least three consecutive monthly meetings to discuss this idea. *Consider how this initial group reflects the larger community. Start with as diverse a cross-section of the community as possible.

Place – Select a convenient and inclusive place to meet. Location impacts who will show up. Consider a meeting space that is accessible for parking and public transportation. Consider meeting in different locations, possibly in a rotation, to accommodate members who live in different parts of the town/county. Faith community buildings and cultural centers are often good choices.

Leaders – Find one or, ideally, two people willing to: 1) co-lead the meetings and 2) coordinate meeting logistics.

Also, reach out to neighboring or similar communities that already have a food council to hear about their experiences and receive advice. Consider attending other food council events or regional events to gain a better understanding of the work already being done and gaining traction. If you have questions or would like advice, please contact Community Food Strategies at communityfoodstrategies@gmail.com or (919) 515-5362.

Join the Conversation

Connect with us in person, on Facebook and on listservs to see what Food Councils – from the coast to the mountains – are cooking up in their communities.

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