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Understanding where food comes from and how local government is involved.


People across the U.S. are increasingly concerned about where their food comes from and how it was grown and raised. As part of this interest, cities, municipalities and states are increasingly leveraging their buying power to create policies that embed their values into procurement decisions. As part of this research, we are working to understand the impacts, or potential tradeoffs, associated with these food policies.

Photo Left: These are members from the Jefferson Food Policy Council visiting Sprout City Farms with a staff member from Senator Bennett’s office, discussing Farm Bill issues.

Food Policy Councils

Food Policy Councils in North
America in 2018. This is an increase
from 15 in 2000.

In the Nation
0 th

Colorado’s national rank in terms of the most food policy councils in the U.S. Colorado has 10 food policy councils.

Number of U.S. states with food
policy councils.

Source: The Johns Hopkins Center for a Liveable Future 2018


A FPC is an organized group of stakeholders from various sectors that may be sanctioned by a government body or may exist independently of government, which works to address food systems issues at the local, state or regional or First Nations levels through policy. The term “food policy council” is used to emphasize the effort of these groups to reform policy. It is also the most common term used among North American groups.

Source: John’s Hopkins Center for a Livable Future


Colorado has many FPCs, which include groups with different titles such as the Food System and Food Equity Coalition, Northwest Colorado Food Coalition, and the Pueblo Alliance for Food Access. There is also a statewide food policy council, the Colorado Food Systems Advisory Council, which advises the Governor on
statewide issues relating to food system issues. One strength of Colorado policy groups is in how they act as a large network representing state interests. For example, when advocating for USDA Farm Bill programs, Colorado food policy groups logged the most comments supporting the Local Agricultural Marketing Program (LAMP) and the Gus Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP). The umbrella organization for the local food policy councils is called the Colorado Food Policy Network, and it is administered by LiveWell Colorado.


The SFPC, with members appointed by the Mayor, was created in 2010 to advise the Mayor on policy related to food system issues. Accomplishments include:


The Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP) is an institutional food procurement model developed by the Los Angeles Food Policy Council in 2012 with input from more than 100 stakeholders and procurement experts. That same year, a collective of departments and agencies in the city of Los Angeles became the first public institution to adopt the GFPP, followed by LAUSD. The second largest school district in the country, LAUSD serves more than 739,000 meals and snacks per day with an annual food budget of more than $150 million.

After the program found success in Los Angeles, the Center for Good Food Purchasing was created in 2015 to help expand the scale and impact of the program by linking it to place-based efforts in cities across the country. The GFPP has since been adopted by the San Francisco Unified School District, Oakland Unified School District, Chicago Public Schools, the city of Chicago, Austin Independent School District, and Washington D.C.

The GFPP awards progressive certifications to public institutions leveraging their purchasing power to achieve a more transparent, equitable, and sustainable food system. It provides a set of flexible metrics-based standards and benchmarks to track progress. Five key “value categories” drive the program’s vision and provide the basis for its procurement framework: local economies, environmental sustainability, nutrition, valued workforce, and animal welfare. (The cities of Denver, Boston and Chicago have added a sixth pillar, racial equity and inclusion.)

Source: Purchasing Power: How Institutional “Good Food” Procurement Policies Can Shape a Food System that’s Better for People and our Planet, Union of Concerned Scientists.


The City and County of Denver and the Denver Sustainable Food Policy Council are promoting the adoption of the Good Food Purchasing Program through the following actions:

  • 1)
    A mayoral advisory requesting that the Mayor adopt the Good Food Purchasing Program for Denver agencies, including the City and County Jails and federal nutrition programs through the Office of Children’s Affairs.
  • 2)
    Baseline Assessment and Action Plan
    The City is contracting with the Center for Good Food Purchasing to conduct an evaluation of procurement practices to establish a baseline of where they align within the six value categories and where improvement is needed. Participating institutions include: the City and County jails, the Office of Children’s Affairs, Denver University, Centura Health, Denver Public Schools and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
  • 3)
    Changing Contract Language
    Modifying contract language with vendors can institutionalize good food purchasing values e.g., establishing targets for purchasing local products.
  • 4)
    Good Food Purchasing Coalition
    A coalition of stakeholders, representing the six value pillars, have come together to promote the GFPP with Denver-based institutions and Colorado producers. The Coalition is also prioritizing the values most important to Colorado.


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