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Food Systems Planning Initiative

The Massachusetts Food System Plan is an ongoing statewide initiative to support increased consumption of Massachusetts agricultural and food products while preserving water and land resources, to support a strong, robust food system where local and healthy foods are accessible to all residents, and job and business opportunities abound. The Metropolitan Area Planning Council is leading a team of planners to facilitate this statewide process.

Four statewide forums and listening sessions have been held in eastern and central Massachusetts.  At least two are being planned for western Massachusetts in early 2015.  It’s an important opportunity to weigh in on what's happening in your local food system including on the farm, the food processing arena, and in your community. These forums will provide a platform to share what is being done well, challenges, and suggestions to improve our food system. Your input is important for to better understand the major strengths and obstacles in the region, and to support the development of a well-informed plan for the Massachusetts Food System going forward. For more details, check the MAPC and MDAR websites: and


To learn more about food systems planning in Massachusetts facilitated by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council on behalf of the Massachusetts Food Policy Council, go to


The first week of March 2014, The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) signed the contract with MDAR to facilitate the development of a strategic plan for the state‘s food system. The Massachusetts Food Policy Council is charged with finding ways to increase access to fresh nutritious food for all citizens of the Commonwealth. The goal of the plan is to build on the strengths reflected in the latest agriculture  census and propose policies and programs to ensure – as best we can - that our farm economy will be as robust and resilient as possible in the years ahead. The intersection of production agriculture with processing, distribution, food security, food access and public health will be components of the plan.

The Metropolitan Area Planning Council, team includes Marc Draisen, Executive Director; Julie Conroy, AICP, MAPC Senior Environmental Planner; Mary Prauss, Franklin Regional Council of Governments, Land Use Planner;  David Elvin, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, Senior Planner and Alex Risley Schroeder, MA Workforce Alliance


On November 7, 2010, the MA Food Policy Council was effective, enacted as Chapter 277 of the Acts of 2010, “An Act establishing the Massachusetts food policy council,” Statute M.G.L. c.20, Section 6C, creating the 17-member Food Policy Council (“FPC”).

The Council includes four members from the legislature including two from the House of Representatives, one appointed by the majority and one by the minority leader; and two members from the Senate, one appointed by the majority and one by the minority.  Six members include representatives of various agencies within the Executive branch, and seven industry representatives are appointed by the Governor from groups within the food production and marketing chain.

Appointed members serve three-year terms or until a successor is appointed. The FPC chooses its own chair who serves for a maximum of two years. The FPC must meet periodically at the call of the chair but no less than 4 times a year. All meetings are public and the council keeps a record of its meetings and actions

The FPC appoints an advisory committee consisting of members of specific stakeholder groups. Other committees can be appointed to serve at the direction of the FPC.

The purpose of the FPC is to:
(1) increase production, sales and consumption of Massachusetts-grown foods;
(2) develop and promote programs that bring healthy Massachusetts-grown foods to Massachusetts residents through various programs such as:
(i) targeted state subsidies,
(ii) increased state purchasing of local products for school and summer meals and other child and adult care programs,
(iii) double coupon initiatives,
(iv) direct market subsidies to communities with identified needs,
(v) increasing institutional purchases of Massachusetts-grown foods and other programs to make access to healthy Massachusetts products affordable, and
(vi) increasing access to healthy Massachusetts-grown foods in communities with disproportionate burdens of obesity and chronic diseases;
(3) protect the land and water resources needed for sustained local food production; and (
(4) train, retain and recruit farmers  and to provide for the continued economic viability of local food production, processing and distribution in the commonwealth.

State Agency Members:

Secretary Gregory Bialecki, MEOHED
Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett, MDPH
Kerry Bowie, designee for Deputy Commissioner Gary Moran, MDEP
Katie Millet, designee for Commissioner of Education, MESE
Frank Martinez Nocito, designee for Commissioner Stacey Monahan,  MDTA
Commissioner Gregory C. Watson, MDAR

Legislative members (appointed by the Governor):

Representative Kimberly Ferguson
Senator Robert Hedlund
Representative Steve Kulik

Industry Members (appointed by the Governor):

Vivien Morris, MS, RD, MPH, LDN, Boston Public Health Commission, Community based nutrition and public health expert
Vacant, Food processor and handler
Jeff Cole, Executive Director, MA farmers markets, direct to consumer marketing
Manuel Costa, President, Costa Fruit and Produce, Food processor and distributor
Helen Caulton-Harris, Springfield Board of Health, Local health department representative
John Lee, Allandale Farm, Farmer
Amanda Kinchla, M.S., Food Safety Extension Specialist, UMASS Amherst

Advisory Committee Members

Shemariah Blum-Evitts,  Lutheran Social Services’ New Lands Farm Program
Cris Coffin, American Farmland Trust
Selvin Chambers, The Food Project
Nancy Cohen,  UMass
Christa Drew, MA Food Policy Alliance
Steven J. Herbert, UMASS
Phil Korman of Community,  Involved in Sustaining Agriculture
Brad Mitchell,  Farm Bureau
Ellen Parker,  Project Bread
Winton Pitcoff, Maple Producers Assn
Helen Rasmussen PhD, Tufts

The FPC must submit an annual report (except the first year) of its findings, conclusions, proposals, recommendations and progress toward reaching benchmarks.
To receive electronic notices of meetings and other materials related to the Council, please use the contact information below.

Massachusetts Food Policy Council
c/o Department of Agricultural Resources
251 Causeway Street
Suite 500
Boston, MA 02114

Bonita Oehlke