Building the foundation to grow food policy
Food policy councils (FPCs) aim to foster more just, healthy, and sustainable food systems by discussing, shaping, and assessing food system policies and programmes in their communities. Many struggle, however, to understand how to effectively engage in advocacy work. Recognizing this common challenge, we created a comprehensive online assessment toolkit that helps to build the capacity of stakeholder groups like FPCs to influence local and state level food policy. The toolkit will be most useful for groups working along the continuum of advocacy – those that aspire to do more advocacy in the food system arena, those that are struggling with their advocacy work, and those that are heavily involved in advocacy and want to evaluate and improve their efforts. The toolkit is a self-assessment tool that provides a sequence of activities to help FPCs better understand the advocacy and policy process, evaluate their current advocacy capacity, or use the results to guide discussions about how to get started. This chapter explores the goals, development, and content of the toolkit, with specific attention to equity and systems-thinking metrics. It also reflects on how the toolkit has been used in practice by one FPC.