A professional development online course for Cooperative Extension and community development professionals.


Those working within Cooperative Extension organizations and community development professionals are often asked to engage in the development of local food councils. This online course will provide information and a basic set of skills to equip professionals with the tools they need to feel more confident leading or assisting with this work. More than 20 Cooperative Extension and community development professionals contributed to this self-paced, no-cost course, which contains videos and resources that can be used during food council meetings.

This course was supported by the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development. Course facilitators are Jodee Ellett, Local Foods Coordinator with Purdue University and Kendra Wills, Community Food Systems Educator with Michigan State University Extension.

Course Topics

Topics covered in this course include: 

  • What are food councils?
  • Extension’s role with local food councils
  • Community food system basics
  • Facilitation and leadership
  • Learn more about the breadth of roles that Extension and community development professionals can have in food council work
  • Conducting a community food assessment
  • Organizing and developing a food council
  • Funding for food councils
  • Evaluating your local food council work
  • Public policy and land use planning related to local food systems
  • Organizational structures for food councils
  • Creating sustainable food councils, regional and/or statewide food council networks

Estimated Time for Completion

10 - 15 hours