The last 10 years have seen a growth in regional food planning across the United States.
Food plans serve as an opportunity to better understand city and regional food systems, and identify ways to strengthen them. Through developing a community-driven strategic plan that assesses how we grow, distribute, consume, and dispose of food, food planning can enhance individual and community health and nutrition, economic well-being, community resilience and ecological sustainability. Because food touches almost everything we do, food planning touches on issues of poverty, health, land use, transit, local enterprises, energy, and resiliency to shocks and stresses. Some examples of food plans from other cities can be found here: Massachusetts Local Food Action Plan, Denver Food Action Plan, Columbus Food Action Plan, Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan.
The Greater Pittsburgh Food Action Plan (GPFAP)
will help position Pittsburgh and Allegheny County as part of the national conversation on how to advance regional food systems. As a community-driven assessment and strategy for improving how we grow, distribute, and dispose of food in all 130 municipalities within Allegheny County, GPFAP will identify opportunities to reduce inefficiencies in the Greater Pittsburgh food system and enhance our collective action, with the aim of increasing access to healthy and affordable food for all.
With approximately 8,500 food facilities and over 420 farms in Allegheny County, food-related businesses are a major industry in the region. A Food Action Plan can benefit the city and county by addressing and continuously evaluating every aspect of the food system, including production, processing, distribution, access, and waste management.
GPFAP is a roadmap for cross-sector, multi-stakeholder coordination between nonprofits, governments, businesses, and individuals. By aligning the public and a variety of organizations in all areas of the food system, we will promote and support a local food system that meets the economic, environmental, and nutritional needs of our residents.
The Pittsburgh Food Policy Council (PFPC) will assist and oversee the creation of GPFAP. For the two year duration of this project, PFPC will be responsible for the administration, facilitation, and documentation of the plan, as well as the drafting of written content and incorporation of stakeholder input. We will lead the planning process, including community engagement sessions, surveys, local government interviews, and feedback. Along the way, we will depend heavily on the strategic guidance, sector-specific expertise, and committed support of the members of PFPC and the broader community.
Phase 1: Planning (January – July 2018)
With funding from the Hillman Foundation and Heinz Foundation, the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council (PFPC) began outlining the process for developing the GPFAP. This included defining the geographical scope of the project, assembling a project team and advisory team, and establishing the time frame for the project to be completed.
Phase 3: Engagement Sessions: (May – August 2019)
GPFAP is a community driven food assessment, and the engagement sessions are where the community will be able to provide input. The findings from the Conditions Report will be shared out in a series of thematically and geographically diverse engagement sessions, where we will also ask about the concerns and questions about the food system that residents have.
Phase 2: Conditions Report (August 2018 – April 2019)
With the foundation for GPFAP firmly established, the next step was to develop a baseline assessment of the state of the food system in the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. ;The Conditions Report was a large data collecting effort, looking at the current conditions across all sectors of the food system, including municipal level policy and current programmatic efforts.
Phase 4: The Plan (August – December 2019)
Information from the Conditions Report and Engagement Sessions will be strategically assessed to determine priorities and plans of action to address them going forward. This information will be presented in the creation of the Greater Pittsburgh Food Action Plan, which will be released by the end of 2019. Plans for implementation and adoption of the plan and its recommendations will follow suit.