MSU Releases Directory of Michigan Food System Councils

New directory makes it easier for residents to connect with councils and networks working on food systems in their city, county and region.

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More and more Michigan communities are seeing value in the development of food councils and other member networks and associations to advance good food policy and programs in their towns, cities, counties and regions. In an effort to catalogue these groups the Center for Regional Food Systems at Michigan State University has released a directory including contact information, the council’s mission, geographic region, area of expertise and policy/program interests.

This directory is a great resource for community members looking to engage with local food systems work, specifically in local policy making and collaboration. Food policy councils and networks have existed for several years in parts of Michigan and more are in development every year. They are organized as places where collaboration, specifically around local food policy, can take place among many different stakeholders. Councils can be formal governmental organizations or can exist as non-profit organizations that work closely with local government partners.

Michigan State University Extension staff play critical roles in the development and sustainability of local food councils. Extension staff members from the Community, Food and Environment (CFEI) and the Health and Nutrition Institutes (HNI) are involved in nearly half of the 47 councils that are operating around the state and cover more than 59 of Michigan’s 83 counties with their work. In addition to the Food Council Directory, the Center for Regional Food Systems has also released a report that examines the ability of food councils to impact and make policy change in their regions. The results of this report will be discussed in part two of this article on food councils in Michigan.

If you are interested in learning more about the work of local food councils or getting involved with a council or network in your area, visit the Michigan State University Extension Community Food Systems web page to find an educator working in your area.

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