Building capacity for local government engagement in food system development through research and outreach programming.

Local Governments and Local Food Systems

Local governments are potential partners in the development of food systems that promote economic viability, equitable community development and environmental sustainability. As part of its nationally-focused Food and Community Connections project, MSU Center for Regional Food Systems led outreach and research to build capacity for local government engagement in food system development. Examples of recent efforts include:

National Survey of Local Governments 

CRFS worked with the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) to develop and administer a comprehensive national survey on the status of food-related policies, programs, partnerships and plans. Nearly 2,000 municipalities and counties responded to the inaugural survey conducted in 2012. The second iteration, conducted in 2015, yielded over 2,200 responses. Results provide insight into the ways and lenses through which local governments engage in food systems, which may be of interest to good food advocates seeking municipal or county support for their efforts.

CRFS and ICMA continue to partner on research and outreach in this area; more information, including links to resources, related blog posts, and interactions with local government stakeholders on food topics can be found on ICMA’s Knowledge Network.

New Partners for Smart Growth Conference workshops

CRFS partnered with the Local Government Commission, organizers of the annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference, to develop food system-focused pre-conference workshops in conjunction with the 2014 and 2015 national events. These interdisciplinary workshops provided opportunities for dialogue among local, regional and federal public agency staff, elected and appointed officials, and community-based advocates and practitioners about opportunities to advance healthy, equitable food system development aligned with smart growth objectives and strategies. More information about each event, including the topics and speakers featured, is available on the New Partners site: