Food Policy Councils



The Food Policy Council Working Group (FPCWG) focuses on research assessing the work of Food Policy Councils (FPCs), related to increasing access to healthy food and beverage options. FPCs consist of stakeholders from public, private and nonprofit sectors representing a wide array of interests, who advise and support citizens and decision makers in developing policies and programs to improve regional, state, or local food systems.

Key Activities and Findings

Key focal areas for the FPCWG include: 1) Developing a measure for FPC impact; 2) Drawing from existing measures to create an organizational readiness assessment of FPCs, 3) Assessing the association between FPC organizational readiness and FPC impact; 4) Using the data to provide feedback to FPCs regarding: organizational readiness, strategies for success re policy formulation and implementation, and approaches to FPC impact evaluation.

Activity 1: Identify stakeholders and build partnerships

The FCPWG hosts conference calls to connect experts with diverse backgrounds in the fields of nutrition, community psychology, and food policy from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, United States Department of Agriculture, NOPREN collaborating sites, and additional content experts.

Key findings to date:

  • We have solicited interest from RWJF Healthy Eating Research meetings, NOPREN, authors of relevant publications, and numerous other sources
  • Multiple conference calls to review the existing literature and assessment instruments
  • NOPREN members have discussed their interest in, and specific needs for FPC evaluation.

Activity 2: Review current literature and identify evaluation approaches

We have invited researchers in the field to join our conference calls and reviewed existing reports and manuscripts to identify prior approaches to evaluating FPCs.

Current gaps in the literature include:

  • Impact assessment of FPCs – including quantitative, systematically collected data
  • Organizational and individual capacity regarding accomplishing key FPC activities and evaluating impact

Activity 3: Develop a measure of Food Policy Council organizational capacity and impact

We have planned to adapt existing measures of capacity within collaboratives to assess FPCs’ organizational readiness to support institutional change (e.g., policy changes in member organizations, providing food policy recommendations to local government upon request)

Assessment domains include the following:

Organizational characteristics:

  • Breadth of active membership, social capital, member empowerment, leadership, council climate, council structure, and community context


  • Policy formulation including coalition formation, assessment of policy needs, capacity building in the community and within member organizations, engagement of influential stakeholders, network building, drafting policy recommendations
  • Policy enactment: policies or regulations “passed” by governing body, adherence/monitoring mechanisms included Policy implementation/impact: stage of implementation, evidence of adoption, evidence of impact, adherence/enforcement strategies in place


Larissa Calancie, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
Center for Health Equity Research (CHER)
Department of Social Medicine, UNC School of Medicine

Kristen Cooksey Stowers, MPP, PhD
Assistant Professor of Health Disparities
Department of Allied Health Sciences
UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity