Smart Growth & Regional Collaboration
In Massachusetts, one in nine residents and one in six children faces food insecurity – meaning they don’t have access to enough affordable, nutritious food.
Food insecurity leads to a range of health and economic consequences, including poor diet, chronic disease, and substandard performance at work or school.
MAPC works with community and government organizations, nonprofits, and local restaurants, corner stores, and farmers markets to increase affordable, healthy foods for residents.
About the Project
Massachusetts has a rich and diverse food system – from varied agriculture, to innovative food processing facilities, to initiatives to improve the health and affordability of food in our communities.
In 2013, in order to strengthen the ways we harvest, process, and obtain our food, the Massachusetts Food Policy Council initiated a process to craft a statewide Food System Plan that ties together the many elements of the Massachusetts food system. Creating the plan involved identifying gaps, gathering public input, and crafting an actionable strategy to make our food system serve our needs.
The food system is made up of every part of the process that puts food on our tables—from seed to plate.
The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), as the project fiduciary and liaison to the FPC, contracted with MAPC to lead the food planning process. MAPC worked closely with its project partners: Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, the Franklin Region Council of Governments, and the Massachusetts Workforce Alliance. With our combined experience in food systems planning, public engagement, and economic development, the project team and its sister Regional Planning Agencies guided the Commonwealth through the development of the Massachusetts Food System Plan.
What's the Plan?
Through December 2015, the project team worked with food system experts - including producers, business owners, food system stakeholders, and consumers - to conduct a comprehensive assessment that identifies the current strengths of the Commonwealth's food system and opportunities for improvement. The project looked at all components of the food system (as shown above), as well as overarching areas, such as employment opportunities, public health improvements, and climate resiliency.
At the end of the planning process, Massachusetts had its first statewide food system plan since 1974. The plan established a comprehensive vision for the food system, including specific goals and an action plan to make the vision reality.
Why it's Important
The Massachusetts food system is vibrant in many ways, but the state also faces challenges. Local food production and markets are incredibly successful in Massachusetts, and are contributing to farm viability and improving access to healthy food. At the same time, Massachusetts deals with challenges such as losing farmland to development and high rates of obesity and diabetes. Through the food system planning process, we identified strategies for building upon the strengths and address the challenges of the Massachusetts food system.
Resources & Documents
The following posters analyze various components of the food system.
Production on Land
Production at Sea
Food System Files - Public Comment Period, October 23 - November 6
MAPC’s Public Health Committee meets regularly to discuss current and emerging health priorities at MAPC.