Why Colorado Springs Needs A Food Policy Council
by Christine on November 6, 2014
Food policy councils are an idea whose time has come. The food system, no longer serving the consumer, is a bit of a runaway freight train. Big corporations pushing around small producers, no transparency in practices or ingredients, and communities unable to come together with enough voices to create change. While roughly 30 other cities in the State of Colorado have food policy councils, Colorado Springs (the States 2nd largest city) does not. We have no common space to come together and work-out issues plaguing our community. We have no real idea what groups other than our own are working on. And we have no unity of purpose, a requirement for large scale change. Colorado Springs is a city full of passionate, hardworking go-getters that is getting nowhere. The positive changes we are all working toward are happening slowly or not all. We need a new tool in the tool-kit; that tool is a food policy council.
For about the last eight months or so, I have had the honor to serve on a committee that is studying how food policy councils (FPC’s) work in other communities. The committee was formed by Councilor Jill Gaebler (picture above), after she began hearing from constituent after constituent about the need for an FPC. Jill’s work to legalize miniature goats in the City of Colorado Springs was no small feat, and as it turns out the community recognizes so many other needs. Bee keepers asking for assistance to be able to keep more than one hive, backyard food growers asking for information about growing and producing food to sell, and questions about how to close the loop on waste in our city. These are questions no one person has the answers to; Jill wisely turned to the idea of a food policy council to allow a place for the community itself to address its own problems.
There have been some nasty rumors about the intention of an FPC in Colorado Springs (no, FPC’s don’t ban soda from cities) so I feel obliged to set the record straight. Here’s what I know:
- The intention of this FPC is to be formed from a joint resolution with the City of Colorado Springs and El Paso County, making this FPC regional. Why is this important? Because what we do in the city impacts folks in the country, and what folks do in the country impacts us in the city. We’re a community folks; let’s start acting like one.
- The roles are still evolving, and this is an open process that has been soliciting input from the public. If you have input, please forward it on to me and I will make sure it is brought forward. Better yet, come to the next community meeting on this topic. The FPC is intended for you to run, so being in on its formation is a good thing.
- The folks (including me) who are working to create this community space have no intention (nada, zip, zero) or running for a seat on the FPC. All of us working on this project have our plates full and cannot take on another role; we are not building the FPC for ourselves. I know of at least eight significant groups doing good work around food in the Pikes Peak Region (you know who you are); I’m looking squarely in your direction. The heads of these organizations are exactly the right people to be on the FPC. The more we bring folks together, the more we will accomplish.
- The FPC is not a regulatory body. In fact, if anything, it is a de-regulatory body. FPC’s are intended to assist in making market access easier for producers, increase food security and quality for consumers, reduce waste, cut emissions, conserve water, and boost the economy. We can have it all, and local food is the way to do it. An FPC is a critical component of a robust local food scene, helping to guide the process with the expertise of the community members who live and breathe this stuff. It is not an outside organization; it is not a top-down organization.
If you’re interested in more information about the food policy council, and how it is taking shape in Colorado Springs, please shoot me an e-mail. I’d be happy to tell you what I know, and get you information about getting involved in this process. Colorado Springs is behind the curve on this issue, and it shows. Groups duplicating work because they are unaware of what others are doing, groups in competition with one another, and groups not working together because they don’t know what the other brings to the table. The resources we need already exist in this community – getting them all in one room is the trick. I’m certain a food policy council is the best mechanism for varied groups to come together in our community, and I will continue to work toward that end. ‘Hope to see you there.