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How it began: a brief history of the Greater Kansas City Food Policy Coalition



In February of 2007, a diverse group of stakeholders attended a forum to discuss the nation’s food policies as they related to national health and nutrition goals. This forum was the first of its kind in Kansas City, and was organized by KC Healthy Kids with additional funding support from the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

The 2007 forum was born from recognition that access to healthy food is a prerequisite for good health. Because the Farm Bill has a massive impact on the production, distribution, cost and availability of healthy food, the pending reauthorization of this extensive federal bill was a critical issue for many organizations and individuals throughout the Kansas City region.

The interest generated by the forum eventually led to the formation of the Greater Kansas City Food Policy Coalition. Between February 2007 and January of 2010, the coalition grew to include more than 300 representatives from all critical components of the food system.

In 2008 coalition participants developed a strategic plan that was formally adopted in 2009. With its strategic plan in place, the coalition was ready to advocate for a healthy food system.

In January 2010, Beth Low-Smith became the first Director of the coalition. She immediately dove in to her work, assisting in the development and adoption of Kansas City, Missouri’s landmark overhaul of the ordinances governing urban agricultural activity, finally adopted in June of 2010. Since her arrival, Low-Smith has worked to strengthen the coalition to include more than 700 individuals and organizations. Under Low-Smith’s direction, the coalition took on a formalized structure with a steering committee as its voting and planning authority and policy committees open to members and the public.

In order to develop policy initiatives that reflect the interests and needs of our local food system, four policy committees worked over a six month process to identify major policy barriers and opportunities the coalition could address. In February 2011, the steering committee adopted its first two initiatives; increasing institutional purchasing of locally grown foods and improving access to healthy, affordable food in several area food deserts.

Each of these developments, and the ongoing work of the coalition, have further established it as a key leader and source of expertise on regional food system issues.

We hope you will join us in our efforts to advocate for policies that positively impact the nutritional, economic, social, and environmental health of Greater Kansas City.

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