Everyone depends upon a sustainable and equitable food system. A sustainable food system is one that balances the environmental, health, social and economic needs of a community or region and its workers and eaters. An equitable food system ensures access to food, jobs, and resources for production for all, and is inclusive of all individuals and communities in the decision-making processes that determine how the food system is regulated and supported. As awareness of and interest in the food system has grown, residents are looking to municipal government and other members of the public sector to make choices that support these principles.
Most policy, planning, and programmatic decisions made by a city or town can have an impact on the food system, whether directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally. This tool, developed by the Massachusetts Food System Collaborative in partnership with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council with support from the Massachusetts Healthy Eating Community of Practice, is meant to help municipal leaders and employees consider the role your city or town plays in the food system. It is not intended to answer every question, but to stimulate thinking by municipal leaders and staffers as you consider how your work and your policies affect the food system, and to direct you to resources that can help with that work.
The tool is organized by key municipal agencies and personnel, and introduces questions to consider in these roles as they relate to promoting food systems. Following these sections are additional guides to help cities and towns develop food system strategies. Included at the end of the document, several organizations are listed that lead food systems work and can provide additional support and as towns and cities. Throughout the document, footnotes include additional topic-specific resources.