If you don’t have a food council in your community, and you can answer ‘Yes’ to the following questions, you’re probably in the start-up phase of food council or network development.
- Is your community ready for a food council?
- Do you have a cross-sector organizing group of 5-15 people who are eager to help form a food council or network?
- Do you have time to work on this over a 9-12 month period?
Every community is different, and every approach to food council development is different. Generally speaking, the start-up phase describes what a council could look like in your community while at the same time creating the conditions for a food council to survive and thrive there. During this phase, organizing groups (aka task force groups) develop a rough scaffolding for the council so that key stakeholders can weigh in support or opposition of the concept. In many cases these key actors can make or break its success. This phase takes approximately 12 months.
- Increased knowledge of food councils and networks among organizing group members.
- Clarification of the general focal area and the key functions the council will perform within that focal area.
- A document describing the council in terms that serve as a scaffold until the council itself can meet to refine its mission, goals, and by-laws.
- Support commitments to meet council resource needs during its first few years, and preferably beyond.
- Increased community support, especially among key stakeholders, for the formation of a food council or network.
- Formal recognition of the council by local government as an important partner in strengthening the community, usually in the form of a resolution adopted by the county commissioners and city councils.
- Increased trust and stronger relationships among members, and partners of the cross-sector organizing group who create the council charter and garner contextual support.
- An identification and selection process for council members and an initial slate of members for the first council.
- Continuity from the work of the organizing group to the inaugural council.