Passionate people and shared values are at the heart of community food innovation.
Innovation takes courageous, caring leaders who are willing to take risks. Here’s what you can do:
- Talk with friends about the importance of equitable access to healthy food
- Volunteer with existing community food projects
- Get involved with your local food policy council
- Help promote good food in schools and institutions
- Donate money to community food projects
- Donate farm equipment or help fund the purchase of needed equipment
- Start your own community food project
Steps to Start a Food Project
Follow these important steps and use these resources to help.
1. Listen and learn about community food needs.
Start with understanding your community. Gather data on demographics, diet-related diseases, regional food production and access to healthy food. Also look at existing food projects in your community. You might partner with the city, university or college, or a nonprofit organization to help collect data. Equally important is listening to the community – what are people saying about needs and priorities. Assess what you’re hearing, along with the data to identify potential gaps and opportunities.
2. Bring people together to develop a shared vision.
Next, invite key stakeholders to review what you’re learning and work together to develop a shared vision. Be inclusive, reaching out to all those who are part of the food supply chain, including residents, farmers, local food businesses and government. Explore food projects on this site for inspiration and replicable models. Consider your community’s needs, along with the group’s strengths and assets, and align your vision with the group’s passion.
3. Develop an action plan.
Building on your shared vision, set specific goals and develop a plan to achieve your goals. Determine the necessary tasks. For each task, assign responsibility for who will carry out the work, note specific resources needed, consider partners who could be involved and set a timeline for completion. You’ll want to establish a budget, identify funding opportunities and develop clear metrics of success.
4. Implement the action plan.
Now that you have a plan, it’s time to get to work and realize your community vision. Draw on your initial stakeholders’ group to assemble the necessary resources for implementation. Then, use your action plan as a guide to the work. It can be helpful to designate one person to oversee implementation of the plan. This person can track tasks and facilitate communication among the group.
5. Assess and refine the action plan.
Make sure to measure progress toward your goals, and celebrate successes along the way. Long-term food systems change is a process and takes time. Be patient and don’t worry if you need to make adjustments to your plan.
Research Your Community by PolicyMap
An interactive mapping tool to help you understand the demographics, health, food access and other community data.
Food Sovereignty Assessment Tool by First Nations Development Institute
A framework for Native communities to measure and assess food access, land use and food policy in their communities.
Healthy Food Access Portal by PolicyLink, Reinvestment Fund and The Food Trust
Tools and resources to help you get started, engage the right stakeholders, plan your strategy and influence policy to improve community food access.
Funding, Healthy Food Access Portal by PolicyLink, Reinvestment Fund and The Food Trust
An overview of available funding for healthy food projects, including a searchable database of healthy food financing funds, grants, loans and incentives.
Metrics for Healthy Communities by Wilder Research
A website with tools to help evaluate community health improvement initiatives.