Food Systems Planning

Food systems planning is the collaborative planning process of developing and implementation local and regional goals, objectives and policies to:

  • Preserve existing and support new opportunities for local and regional urban and rural agriculture;
  • Promote sustainable agriculture and food production practices;
  • Support local and regional food value chains and related infrastructure involved in the processing, packaging, and distribution of food;
  • Facilitate community food security, or equitable physical and economic access to safe, nutritious, culturally appropriate, and sustainably grown food at all times across a community, especially among vulnerable populations;
  • Support and promote good nutrition and health; and
  • Facilitate the reduction of solid food-related waste and develop or manage a reuse, recovery, recycling, and disposal system for food waste and related packaging.*

Cultivating Healthy Places is committed to integrating food systems considerations into traditional areas of urban and regional planning. Listed below are a variety of food systems planning related projects completed by Kimberley Hodgson, as Cultivating Healthy Places’ owner and founder, as Senior Research Associate and Manager of the Planning and Community Health Research Center at the American Planning Association, and as Research Assistant in the Department of Urban Affairs & Planning at Virginia Tech.

Cultivating Healthy Places

Growing Food Connections. The aim of the GFC project was to build the capacity of local governments and their partners to create, implement and sustain food system plans and policies that simultaneously promote access to healthy, affordable and culturally acceptable food and foster a viable agricultural sector in their communities. Cultivating Healthy Places was one of 4 organizations that led this 5-year, USDA funded project. Kimberley Hodgson served as co-investigator. Key deliverables and publications led by Cultivating Healthy Places include:

  • North American Local Government Food Policy Database: a searchable collection of local public policies that explicitly support community food systems.
  • Stories of Food System Policy Innovation: this series highlights the innovative food systems planning and policy work from multiple leading-edge communities across the U.S.
  • Planning & Policy Briefs: This series highlights promising planning and policy strategies used by local governments across North America to promote agricultural viability and/or healthy food access. Brief topics include:
    • Food System Infrastructure
    • Local Healthy Food Procurement
    • Healthy and Local Food Incentives
    • Community Food Production
    • Farmland Protection
    • Food Economic Development
  • Innovation Deep Dive Series: This case study brief series explores the process of developing, adopting, implementing and evaluating food systems related plans and policies in four Communities of Innovation: Region 5, Minnesota; Lawrence/Douglas County, Kansas; Marquette County, Michigan; and Seattle, Washington.

American Planning Association

Healthy, Sustainable Food System Partnership and Principles. Initiated a new coalition bringing together the American Planning Association (APA), the American Dietetic Association (ADA), American Nurses Association (ANA) and the American Public Health Association (APHA). The result was endorsement of a set of shared principles to support socially, economically and ecologically sustainable food systems that promote health – the current and future health of individuals, communities and the natural environment.

Food Interest Group. Serve as the Chair of American Planning Association’s Food Interest Group, a coalition of planners interested in or actively engaged in food systems planning.

National Planning Conference Food System Guides. Collaborated with APA’s Food Interest Group to develop a digital map and food system guide of the National Planning Conference host cities – Minneapolis and New Orleans. The guides provided APA members and others who participated in the 2009 or 2010 National Planning Conference with information about socially and ecologically responsible restaurants and breweries, farmers’ markets, food stores, community gardens, and food-related organizations located within the host city.

QuickNotes: Food Systems Planning. Co-authored an APA QuickNotes publication on food systems planning for public sector planners, appointed and elected officials, and community residents.

Virginia Tech

Food Systems Planning Graduate Course. Developed and taught a short course on food systems planning in the Department of Urban and Regional Affairs at Virginia Tech. This course provided planning students with a basic understanding of the food system and a brief exploration of how planners can transform the food system to create healthy, sustainable communities. Topics covered in the module ranged from health disparities, climate change and healthy store retail to urban agriculture policy and farm to school programs.


*Hodgson, KE and Peemoeller, L. QuickNotes: Food Systems Planning. APA 2010.