Are farmers markets and Community Supported Agriculture gaining momentum in your community? Are restaurants and grocery stores beginning to promote locally sourced products? Are people exploring the possibilities of increasing production of locally grown fruits, vegetables, and other food products? Or has none of this happened yet; but people are beginning to talk about it? Food systems assessments can help you know:
- What is already being grown and raised,
- How much of it is being sold in state and out of state,
- What type of transportation and distribution network exists for local products,
- If there processing facilities to bridge the gap between raw product and wholesale/retail ready product,
- Where the retail outlets are that offer fresh products,
- Where the food deserts are that need fresh products,
- And much more!
If this sounds like information you need to know, the Colorado Food Assessment Framework (FAF) is the tool for you.
The FAF modules can be accessed below and also on LiveWell Colorado’s Food Systems Toolbox: Community Food Assessments. To learn more about how the FAF can support your community food system assessment, please listen to the webinar.
The FAF consists of four modules with a wealth of supporting resources to walk you through a food system assessment plus guidance on how to get started on a food assessment. Few communities have the resources to hire consultants to undertake a food assessment, which is why the FAF was developed. With the FAF in hand, a group of interested community members can begin to systematically gather data to develop an accurate picture of their current food system. With that picture in hand, communities can plan how to move the current food system toward a vibrant, viable local food system – one that supports economic development of local agriculture, increases access to healthy food, and helps improve community health outcomes.
This document provides an overview of the Colorado Food Assessment Framework along with instructions and worksheets to begin the process.
This module focuses on the cultivation of plants and raising of animals for food. Understanding what your region is supplying is a first step in considering what components of production need to be bolstered/preserved and what is missing that is necessary for local sustainable food system.
This module examines the infrastructure of your food system that is responsible for getting food products from producers to consumers. Food distribution is a complex process that includes transportation of fresh products, storage facilities, and wholesalers. The infrastructure needed to distribute local produce is often different than that which is transporting food across state lines or globally. A sustainable local food system must be able to bring its local products into the food distribution chain in a timely, efficient, and safe manner.
This module examines the set of methods and techniques used to transform raw ingredients into food or to transform food into other forms for consumption. Food processing typically takes clean, harvested crops or butchered animal products and uses these to produce marketable and often long shelf-life food products.
The module includes a wide variety of indicators that capture the ability of residents within a community to access and secure healthy foods on a frequent and consistent basis. Because a growing number of Americans live in poverty and the U.S. food system over the last several decades has subsidized high calorie/low nutrition food, food insecurity and nutritional deprivation is a major public policy challenge. Ultimately, a sustainable food system is one that is equitable and able to provide nutritious food to all its residents.
The FAF was developed by Spark Policy Institute with WPM Consulting and LiveWell Colorado as part of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment‘s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) grant. Funding was provided through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, grant number FOA#90101ARRA09.