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Food Systems Background

A food system is made up of every process and person that is involved in feeding a community: from farmers growing and harvesting crops to consumers eating and disposing of food, and the processing, packaging, transporting, marketing, and selling in between. It also includes the natural resources, labor, and research that drive its progress. Social, political, and economic issues play important roles in the development and sustainability of food systems.

Every stage in this process impacts the foods that Coloradoans eat each day. Supporting a food system that provides Coloradoans with the greatest possible access to fresh and healthy food is a key element in slowing the obesity trend and making Colorado a healthier state while improving our economy.

To create robust and resilient food systems within Colorado, LiveWell Colorado initiated Senate Bill 10-106 to establish the Colorado Food Systems Advisory Council. The Council’s mission is to foster a healthy food supply available to all Colorado residents while enhancing the state’s agricultural and natural resources, encouraging economic growth, expanding the viability of agriculture, and improving the health of our communities and residents.

In 2009, LiveWell Colorado developed a Food Policy Blueprint to identify the most pressing needs and opportunities to improve access to healthy foods in Colorado. Many efforts led by diverse partners are now underway across the state to implement the 8 high-priority recommendations included in the Food Policy Blueprint.

Case Studies

How One Colorado Local Food Distribution Company Used Alternative Funding Methods to Fund Their Business
Elizabeth Mozer loves local food, but in 2010 she was driving way too much to get it. “I was running to Greeley to meet the farmer’s daughter from Fort Morgan, and then somewhere else to get crackers and somewhere else to get cheese, all for our little theater that doesn’t even have a real kitchen,” she recalls.
Click here to read the full case study.

For this and similar case studies, view the “Funding for Food Systems” booklet developed by the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union.

Food Systems Funding

Colorado Fresh Food Financing Fund (CO4F)offers financing for grocery stores and other forms of healthy food retail in underserved communities throughout Colorado. This statewide fund is anticipated to leverage $20 million in investment and improve food access for Coloradoans.

The Food Systems Funding Guide, published by the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, provides guidance and resources for pursuing diverse avenues of funding through in-depth case studies of Colorado food businesses

The “Find Money” section of the Healthy Food Access Portal, a comprehensive online information hub developed by PolicyLink, The Reinvestment Fund, and The Food Trust, offers resources, current opportunities, and guidance for funding food businesses.

Access to Capital, published by the California Financial Opportunities Roundtable, identifies existing financing opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Models: Programs & Projects

The Northern Colorado Food Incubator provides consulting, support, guidance, and assistance to food-related businesses and entrepreneurs in Northern Colorado.

Reports: Research, Articles, & Guides

LiveWell Colorado’s Guide to Integrating Healthy Eating and Active Living into Colorado’s Suburban and Urban Communities provides strategies, best practices, resources, and partnership opportunities to address the challenges of incorporating healthy eating and active living (HEAL) into the built environment of “urbanized” communities.

LiveWell Colorado’s Guide to Integrating Healthy Eating and Active Living into Colorado’s Rural and Small Town Communities provides strategies, best practices, resources, and partnership opportunities to address the challenges of incorporating healthy eating and active living (HEAL) into the physical infrastructure of rural and small town communities.

LiveWell Colorado’s Food Policy Blueprint includes an inventory of food systems projects in Colorado, policy recommendations to improve healthy food access, frameworks for implementing those recommendations, and strategies for fostering healthy food access in the state.

It’s Dinnertime: A Report on Low-Income Families’ Efforts to Plan, Shop for, and Cook Healthy Meals, published by Cooking Matters, highlights research showing that low-income families are cooking dinner at home, mostly from scratch, but are unable to eat as healthy as they’d like due to the price of food.

The Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development (JAFSCD) is an online international, peer-reviewed publication focused on the practice and applied research interests of agriculture and food systems development professionals and scholars.

Local and Regional Food Systems for Rural Futures, a report published by RUPRI, explores the opportunities and challenges for rural people in the local and regional food movement, and food systems in general.

Planning for Food Access and Community-Based Food Systems: A National Scan and Evaluation of Local Comprehensive and Sustainability Plans is a report published by the American Planning Association highlighting evaluations, recommendations, and case studies developed out of a national survey of sustainability plans that address food systems.

A Primer on Community Food Systems: Linking Food, Nutrition, and Agriculture, from Cornell University, provides a general overview of community food systems and the goals, elements, and actions necessary to support and strengthen the system.

City Food Policy and Programs: Lessons Harvested From an Emerging Field, a report published by the City of Portland, identifies common challenges faced by local governments working to develop a food policy and provides best practices for organizing, funding,and supporting food systems at the municipal level.

State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables, a report published by the CDC, provides information for each state on fruit and vegetable (F&V) consumption, and environmental and policy indicators of support for consumption.

Community Food Systems: Strengthening the Research-to-Practice Continuum, a report published by the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, presents an analysis of existing literature on community food systems and highlights the three recurring strategic challenges facing food systems practitioners.

Innovations in Local Food Enterprise: Fresh Ideas for a Just and Profitable Food System, published by The Wallace Center, analyses and aggregates a collection of innovative solutions to overcoming difficult food access and food equity issues with a focus on market-based consumer-driven solutions for low-income underserved communities.

Food Insecurity and Hunger in the U.S.: New Research, published by the Food Research and Action Center, is a periodical summarizing recent and important food insecurity and hunger research and analysis from academia, government agencies, think tanks, and health and policy organizations.

Food System Briefs, a free resource provided by the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, encapsulate the critical points of JAFSCD papers that practitioners and policy-makers can benefit from on the local or regional level.

Food Value Chains: Creating Shared Value to Enhance Marketing Success, developed by USDA AMS, Wallace Center, and American University, is designed to provide guidance on how food value chains are structured, how they function, and the benefits they provide to participants, with the intent of encouraging their adoption.

The Local Food Movement: Setting the State for Good Food, published by Michigan State University, provides history on the local food movement in the United States and its link to food that is healthy, affordable, fair, and green within the contexts of food access and health, food justice and sovereignty, the environment, and racial equity.

Tools & Technical Assistance

LiveWell Colorado Healthy Eating Active Living Library is a searchable, online collection of codes, ordinances, resolutions, policies, and other tools to help communities create environments that support access to healthy eating and active living.

Colorado State University’s Local Food Systems Newsletter provides monthly updates to food systems resources, events, and important updates at a state and national level.

Colorado State University Extension provides a list of resources, reports, and case studies on food systems in Colorado.

Healthy Community Food Systems, a Colorado non-profit, developed a toolkit for food systems policy makers, farmers, and consumers on numerous healthy and local food topics.

Local Food Systems: Building Health and Wealth in Metro Denveris an outreach tool for engaging Denver Metro area policy makers and stakeholders in building awareness around the opportunities presented by local food systems.

Field Guide to the New American Foodshed, a website through the National Good Food Network, helps local and regional food entrepreneurs find and use relevant business development information by providing case studies and planning tools.

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) works locally and globally at the intersection of policy and practice to ensure fair and sustainable food, farm and trade systems.

The Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity Data is a non-profit research and public policy organization devoted to improving the world’s diet and preventing obesity.

The Healthy Farms, Healthy People Coalition (HFHP), a California-based non-profit develops targeted policy initiatives to create a healthier, more equitable food system.

The Policy Map, published by The Reinvestment Fund, maps farmers markets, food hubs, food system consultants, and much more on a county, state, and national level.

Justice and Health: Missing Ingredients in the US Food System, developed by The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), is an interactive tour of the food system from field to fork exploring the lack of health and justice in the production and marketing of the food we all eat.

Farm to Table: Building Local and Regional Food Systems, developed by USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE), is an online resource providing information to food system stakeholders who are striving to reconfigure the nation’s food system so more value stays in food-producing communities. Farm to Table: Building Local and Regional Food Systems, a resource hub hosted by USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE), is a “topic room”, which provides valuable resources for individuals working to build strong food-producing communities.