What is a food system?

Glossary

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What is a food system? A food system gathers all the elements (environment, people, inputs, processes, infrastructures, institutions, etc.) and activities that relate to the production, processing, distribution, preparation and consumption of food, and the outputs of these activities, including socio-economic and environmental outcomes (HLPE, 2014. Food losses and waste in the context of sustainable food systems. A report by the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition of the Committee on World Food Security, Rome 2014).

 

What is a food strategy? Food strategies can take many forms, and are conditioned by their local context. We refer to the term ‘food strategy’ as a process consisting of how a city envisions change in its food system, and how it strives towards this change. Food strategies aim to place food on the urban agenda, capitalizing on efforts made by existing actors and creating synergistic effects by linking different stakeholder groups. For this purpose, a Food Strategy is the document which sets out a long-term vision for food in a given area/multiple areas (e.g., securing food security, ensuring food commercial vibrancy reducing food waste). The key priorities outlined in a food strategy are variable, depending on the local need of the community.

 

What is an food action plan? A Food Action Plan (or a Food Implementation Plan) sets out the priority projects, and the key partnerships, needed to move from strategy to action.  An action plan covers the delivery period of the projects and activates that will be implemented over a fixed time period. The action plan reaffirms the strategy’s priorities themes, but it aims to focus on the delivery of those priorities. An action plan has three major elements (1) Specific tasks: what will be done and by whom. (2) Time horizon: when will it be done. (3) Resource allocation: what specific funds are available for specific activities.

 

What is a “food policy”? A food policy is the sum total of food actors actions, from signals of intent to the final outcomes, which effect how food is produced, processed, distributed, purchased, protected and disposed.  A food policy does not always need laws (in some cases, for instance, food policies can be made without any new laws). In other words, the law is only one of the ingredients which constitute a policy. A food policy is in fact the result of a set of activities: agenda setting, policy making, implementation process and evaluation.

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