The St. Petersburg City Council in Florida has created a Food Policy Council to address food insecurity. The Food Policy Council will serve as an independent advisory board for the city and will work to create an equitable, community-based food system that will seek to remove the barriers preventing residents from accessing healthy food. It will be facilitated by the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg.
The Council will have at least 20 members drawn from various backgrounds, including the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, the St. Petersburg Free Clinic, Deuces Live, and the League of Women Voters. The council will also be guided by USF’s St. Petersburg campus and the Florida Food Policy Council.
“I started studying food policy councils that have been formed in other cities across the country, and did some research and found that it really has been effective to bring people with different backgrounds regarding food together to work on the different issues related to food security and urban agriculture,” says councilmember Gina Driscoll, who has promoted the issue on the council.
According to foodsecurity.org, there are more than 100 such councils in the United States. They may be commissioned by state or local government, or be grassroots efforts. Food policy councils work towards educating officials and the public, shaping public policy, improving coordination between existing programs, and starting new programs. Examples of their projects include mapping and publicizing local food resources; creating new transit routes to connect underserved areas with full-service grocery stores; persuading government agencies to purchase from local farmers; and organizing community gardens and farmers’ markets.
“We’re excited to see what types of policies may develop that address food insecurity as a whole in St. Petersburg, but also importantly nutrition insecurity, which is an important component of addressing food insecurity,” says Jennifer Yeagley, CEO of the St. Petersburg Free Clinic.