Community Food Systems

holding box of produce

Community food systems refer to the interconnected network of food production, processing, distribution, consumption, and waste management that exist within a specific locality. The goal of community food systems is to create a sustainable, equitable, and healthy food system that benefits all members of the community. Careers within this field vary widely, but all share a commitment to improving access to healthy, locally-grown food and promoting sustainable food production and consumption practices.

Organizations that focus on community food systems are diverse and may include nonprofits, community-based organizations, government agencies, educational institutions, and food businesses. These organizations work together to promote sustainable food production and distribution systems, increase access to healthy food options, and address issues related to food justice and equity.

  • Nonprofit organizations: These organizations are typically focused on addressing issues related to food access, sustainability, and justice. They may work with local communities, schools, or government agencies to promote healthy food choices, increase access to fresh produce, and develop sustainable food production systems.

  • Community-based organizations: These organizations are often grassroots efforts led by members of a particular community. They may work to establish community gardens, farmers markets, or other food-related initiatives that aim to improve access to healthy food options and promote sustainable food production.

  • Government agencies: Local, state, and federal government agencies may be involved in supporting community food systems. They may provide funding or support for food-related initiatives, such as community gardens, farmers markets, or nutrition education programs.

  • Educational institutions: Schools and universities may be involved in promoting sustainable food systems through academic programs, research, and community outreach. They may also establish partnerships with local organizations to support initiatives that promote healthy eating habits and sustainable food production.

Environmental education related jobs within the field of community food systems can include a wide range of roles such as:

  • Community Food Educator: These professionals design and deliver education and outreach programs that aim to increase community knowledge and awareness of sustainable food systems, local food production, and nutrition. They work with schools, community groups, and other organizations to provide hands-on learning experiences, workshops, and classes.
  • Food Access Coordinator: These professionals work to increase access to healthy, locally-grown food for all members of the community, especially those who face barriers such as poverty, transportation, or lack of availability. They may work with farmers markets, food banks, community gardens, or other food-related organizations to ensure that everyone has access to fresh, healthy food.
  • Food Policy Advocate: These professionals work to influence local and state policies related to food production, distribution, and consumption. They may work with government agencies, community organizations, and advocacy groups to promote policies that support sustainable food systems, food justice, and access to healthy food.
  • Urban Agriculture Specialist: These professionals design, implement, and manage urban agriculture projects such as community gardens, rooftop gardens, and hydroponic systems. They work with community members to provide education and training on sustainable agriculture practices and to increase local food production.
  • Food System Planner: These professionals work with local governments, nonprofits, and community groups to develop and implement strategic plans for creating sustainable, equitable, and healthy food systems. They may analyze food production and consumption patterns, identify areas of need, and develop policies and programs to address these needs.

Professional Development