A food system plan for Austin
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Austin, TX is a city with goals for a strong community food system, as expressed in the Imagine Austin comprehensive plan. The City proposes creating a strong local sustainable food system and increasing access to healthy food for all residents. However, these goals lack regulatory measures. Furthermore, while a few city departments, local non-profits, and other entities track food system activities, there is no comprehensive city effort to track food system data and measure progress according to food system goals. Food system planning is necessary for creating a strong community food system, but Austin lacks a food system plan to ensure goals are met through policies, objectives, and benchmarks appropriate for its food environment. A food system plan is a strategic tool adopted by local governments at the city, county, or regional level. Food system plans are shaped by the unique food environments of each community while adhering to current strategies in food system planning, leading to the main question of my research: what are best practices for creating a food system plan for Austin? This report will research food system planning and analyze five food system plans of four cities and one county in the United States and Canada – Seattle, WA, New York City, NY, Vancouver, Canada, Edmonton, Canada, and Multnomah County OR, – in order to create recommendations for a future Austin food system plan. While suggesting broad plan elements that should be included, the analysis will focus on three areas of interest for Austin; what role does geographical scale, such as neighborhoods or districts, have in food system plan implementation; which food system components are typically tracked and used as indicators; and, which entities are mentioned in reference to plan creation and implementation in the food system plan? The goal of my research is to provide the City of Austin with recommendations for creating a food system plan that is appropriate for the Austin context and, through collaborative efforts with diverse stakeholders and partners, the inclusion of meaningful indicators, as well as a holistic perspective that includes social equity, will strengthen Austin’s food system and advance Imagine Austin goals and the community’s vision for a sustainable local food system.