Food Communities and Public Health
The Center’s Food Communities and Public Health program focuses on developing relationships with communities to improve food environments, increase access to healthy food, and inform food and nutrition policy. By working with professional, community-based, faith-based, governmental and academic communities, the program implements projects and activities that build and strengthen capacity to address key opportunities to create a healthy and sustainable food system that is equitable for all.
Our team provides technical assistance and leadership support in several ways by: developing metrics and evaluation tools to measure the impact of changes, translating scientific research findings into practical policy recommendations, evaluating food system interventions to provide evidence for policy and program decisions, and convening stakeholders to advocate for reform on leading food system issues. The Food Communities and Public Health program uses scientific evidence to guide its technical assistance and leadership support in efforts to increase community food security, promote environmental stewardship, and encourage the development of relationships among local and regional food and nutrition organizations seeking to improve the food system.
Current CLF projects that are based within the program include Meatless Monday, Baltimore Food and Faith, the Maryland Food System Map, and Food Policy Networks. Each project applies a different approach to improve the current food system, ranging from GIS food system maps to the Good Food Toolkit for faith communities.
- Launching Food Policy Networks (FPN) with leading food system policy advocate Mark Winne to support the development of effective and robust food policy at the state and local levels by working with existing food policy councils, national organizations and other interested groups.
- Spearheading Eat Right Live Well, a supermarket environment intervention at Southwest Baltimore’s Food Depot.
- Providing technical assistance to Baltimore City government in the development of the Baltimore Food Policy Task Force, whose mission was to ensure universal access to healthy and affordable food for all citizens by improving access and increasing demand.
- Authoring the final report of the Food Policy Task Force, and spearheading efforts to find funding for and hire a Food Policy Director for Baltimore City, who was hired in May 2010 and is part of the Baltimore City Planning Department’s Office of Sustainability.
- Creating a food system mapping tool to examine the current landscape of Maryland's food system from farm to plate and to help make that system stronger. The tool is an interactive resource for public health, nutrition and agriculture communities who are working to strengthen local food systems by improving farm viability, increasing access to healthy food, and addressing health disparities. For example, it can help identify the location of food deserts in Baltimore that require research and policy interventions.
- Educating numerous local faith communities about the health and environmental impacts of the industrial food system. Then, providing technical assistance and financial support to enable those communities to translate this knowledge into projects that improve food security and food sovereignty within the greater Baltimore community.
- Collaborating with the Maryland Institute College of Art to produce a student-led film on the history of the Baltimore food system.
- Creating a Community Food Assessment (CFA) tool and conducting CFAs in neighborhoods of Baltimore to gather information on communities’ experiences of their local food environments.
- Providing technical assistance and serving as a science advisor to the national Meatless Monday campaign.
- Integrating food safety and food security: a case study in Baltimore City
- Partnering with African American Churches to Modify the Food Environment: Reducing Risk for Obesity and Chronic Disease in Urban Areas
- Formative Research to Understand Key Barriers to Implementing a Farm-To-Table Program in the Navajo Nation
Publications and Reports