There has been recent activity and buzz about food policy councils in Wisconsin.

Milwaukee under the leadership of Martha Davis-Kipcak of the Center for Resilient Cities formed the Milwaukee Food Policy Council in 2007 works across sectors to examine and collaborate on existing policies and operations to build a food system that is ecologically sustainable, economically vibrant, and socially just

Dane County with the leadership of Carrie Edgar, Dane County UW-Extension, dusted off the Dane County Food Policy Council that originally formed in 2005 and had fallen into disuse and with some restructuring in 2011, the council now explores issues and develops recommendations to create an economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable local food system for the Dane county region.

But what is a Food Policy Council and what do they do?

According to the North American Food Policy Council Webpage, “Food Policy Councils (FPCs) bring together stakeholders from diverse food-related sectors to examine how the food system is operating and to develop recommendations on how to improve it. FPCs may take many forms, but are typically either commissioned by state or local government, or predominately a grassroots effort. Food policy councils have been successful at educating officials and the public, shaping public policy, improving coordination between existing programs, and starting new programs.”

According to the same website, today there are over 100 councils nationwide (see the full list).

Are you thinking about starting a Food Policy Council?

The North American Food Policy Council Webpage provides several documents of how other Food Policy Councils are organized as well as marketing/outreach materials and reports so that you can quickly gain access to different examples of food policy councils to compare and contrast. They also provide examples of different types of policies that have been created by Food Policy Councils.

This 2009 report, Food Policy Councils: Lessons Learned, found that Food Policy Councils tend to encounter similar challenges, challenges that can sometimes stymie progress, and must be countered with careful planning and evaluation. This report contains tips and case studies for successful councils, warns of common red flags, and includes ample resources for citizens and local governments who may be interested in establishing or helping run a Food Policy Council.