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Open Access Fail to Include, Plan to Exclude: Reflections on Local Governments' Readiness for Building Equitable Community Food Systems

A marked increase in attention to equitable community food systems recently has resulted in demand to create local government policy environments in which these systems can thrive. But what determines policy 'readiness' to develop these environments? Through a critical examination of Growing Food Connections (GFC), we propose a theoretical framework where policy readiness includes the development of inclusive planning processes. GFC is a 5-year integrated research, teaching, and outreach project designed to strengthen food systems for underserved community residents and farmers. Partnering with eight county governments across the United States, the GFC team aimed to increase local capacity to create, implement, and sustain food system policies and plans. Today, these communities are moving forward, in part because they were 'policy ready', with the political commitment to engage in policy change to address their needs. However, the GFC team's initial conceptualization of readiness did not include a determination of communities' ability to confront and unpack deeper systemic challenges, such as historic and cultural divides, racial disparities, and poverty. Without this component of policy readiness, and despite their good intentions, leaders were likely to replicate or even reinforce barriers. Addressing underlying social inequities is a necessary precursor to meeting needs of underserved farmers and community members. After analyzing GFC team's path, the authors use theories on discourse-based democracy, policy development, and structural inequity to frame a way forward and provide practical recommendations for planning inclusive and equitable community food systems.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2017

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  • Built Environment is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. With an emphasis on crossing disciplinary boundaries and providing global perspective, each issue focuses on a single subject of contemporary interest to practitioners, academics and students working in a wide range of disciplines. Issues are guest-edited by established international experts who not only commission contributions, but also oversee the peer-reviewing process in collaboration with the Editors.

    Subject areas include: architecture; conservation; economic development; environmental planning; health; housing; regeneration; social issues; spatial planning; sustainability; urban design; and transport. All issues include reviews of recent publications.

    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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