Community food systems integrate culturally responsive food production, processing, distribution, consumption and disposal to enhance the environmental, economic, social, and nutritional health of a particular place.

The Community Food System Program connects resources and programming to support:

  • community organizations
  • Tribal partners
  • local governments
  • small scale farms
  • food businesses
  • individuals

Community food systems offer an alternative vision to the industrial food system by shortening the length and increasing the transparency of food supply chains while emphasizing links between food, place and culture. Community food systems center values such as social justice and system resilience.

Objectives of community food systems programming include:

  • emphasize place-based food production, processing, distribution, consumption
  • promote environmental stewardship, community health and well-being, and community-based economic development
  • promote local or distributed ownership of one or more phases of the food supply chain
  • promote governance structures and bargaining processes that distribute power across the food supply chain
  • put the aspirations and needs of those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies
  • build capacity of small- to mid-sized producers and BIPOC farm and food entrepreneurs to successfully start and grow businesses
  • expand markets and marketing channels for small to mid-sized producers and BIPOC farm and food entrepreneurs
  • promote participatory planning and policy making through food policy councils and networks
  • link local food production, marketing, or distribution with one or more components of food security:
    • economic security
    • robust federal food and nutrition programs
    • strong emergency food networks
    • vibrant, accessible, and affordable food system

The Community Food System Program connects people to resources across Extension and UW-Madison in the areas of:  Community Food Security, Community Gardens, Food Business Development, Food Policy, Planning & Infrastructure, Food Sovereignty & Justice, Local Food Markets & Marketing

We work closely with these campus partners:

UW Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

UW Madison College of Letters & Science

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