Local Food Council Policy
Food Council Policy
Core Statements, FAQs, and Bylaws
for the Cass County Local Food Policy Council
(as adopted at the November 10, 2020 Council meeting)
The Cass County Local Food Policy Council is a Cass County Government advisory body charged with promoting a vibrant and diverse local food system that supports the health and well-being of Cass County residents. The Council’s activities include:
- building networks among people engaged in all aspects of the food system,
- supporting local food activities consistent with its mission through promotion, resource allocation, or other types of assistance,
- gathering information about the formal and informal food policies of government agencies, public institutions, and private businesses, and
- making reports and recommendations for improving food policies.
The Council’s members are drawn from diverse constituencies, including food producers, processors, distributors, and retailers; nutritionists, healthcare professionals, school staff, government officials, and other citizens, and are appointed by the Board of Supervisors
Community food systems reflect many different values. The following list of the values are those that the Council prioritizes in its work. These are defined by descriptions of conditions that manifest the respective values.
Health: People having active, productive, and long lives free of disease, pain, and debilitating conditions; having a prevalence of healthy people in the community.
Well-being: Individuals and groups living contented and satisfying lives.
Local: People, organizations and businesses in nearby geographic areas receiving first priority in food system decisions and activities.
Community: People feeling that they are part of a larger local social grouping, feeling concern for the welfare of others in that group, and feeling that they share interests with other members; feelings that lead to mutually supporting social networks and collaboration.
Collaboration: Community members working cooperatively to realize opportunities and address concerns.
Inclusiveness: Welcoming and fully considering input from varied perspectives and interests as well as striving to address the needs of all people in the county regardless of their health statuses, economic situations, or roles in the food system.
Awareness: People in families, organizations and businesses having accurate understandings about how food is produced, processed, distributed, and consumed and about how current food systems impact individuals, communities. and the environment.
A future in which all people in Cass County have continuous access to healthful food and many opportunities to engage in food-related businesses. Local food policies that effectively support our community food system.
To bring together representatives of diverse constituencies to develop and foster cohesive programs, policies, and collaborative relationships which lead to actions that build a reliable and resilient local food system for Cass County.
- Willingness to listen and being open to input from those with differing views on topics.
- Engage in respectful discussion with the goal of understanding ideas and reasoning.
Strategic Plan Goals (general)
- Become better informed about current local food policies.
- Increase the consumption of healthful, locally-produced food.
- Promote direct sales from local farms and local businesses to consumers and institutions (schools, restaurants, hospitals, caterers and other food related institutions).
- Build a strong coalition of local food system stakeholders that will enable cooperation in working toward shared goals.
- Make recommendations to appropriate bodies informed by good information and effective practices.
Strategic Plan Projects
Small Grants Program: Subject to its discretion and having funds available for projects deemed by the Council to be consistent with its mission, the Council may make small grants (normally up to $250) to organizations for projects to be implemented in Cass County. See the Council webpage for current deadlines and for specific proposal formatting requirements. The remainder of this paragraph outlines general requirements. Applications must be submitted at least one month in advance of project start dates. The recommended first step for a party interested in applying for funds is contacting the Council grants committee’s designated representative to discuss the contemplated project’s fit with the Council’s objectives and obtain approval to apply. Applications must include the following information: (1) the applicant’s name, his or her position, and contact information, (2) the name of fiscal sponsor–which must be a government or not-for-profit entity—and a brief description of that organization and its mission, (3) a clear description of the purpose for which the funds would be used along with a statement of how this purpose would advance the Council’s mission, (4) a statement of how the requested funds would leverage substantially ongoing efforts, and (5) the time period of the proposed project (including a timetable that shows that all expense vouchers will be submitted prior to June 15 of the current fiscal year). A report will be required for any funded project and such report shall include a description of its impact and a full financial accounting of funds expended.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is food policy?
A Food Policy is any of the operating “rules” created and implemented by people who participate in institutions in the food system. When you consider a food system as the source of our food on our plates, it becomes clear that many decisions are made about what and how that food is produced, processed, distributed, and marketed. One type of food policy is the explicit or implicit prescribed practices used by any organization that produces, processes, distributes or serves food, such as a farm, a food processing firm, a supermarket, a school or a hospital. The objects of such policies include what is served (fresh or processed), how and when it is grown (sustainable, organic or conventional, seasonal or preserved) or who grows it (local farmers, operators of small farms, managers of large agribusinesses). Another type of food policy is the regulations promulgated and implemented by numerous government agencies at the national, state, county and municipal levels. Taken together, these two and other types of policies shape food-related practices and business opportunities as well as affect perceptions of business opportunities. County and other local governments can implement food policies which support elements of the food system, such as local agriculture, restaurants and grocery stores or policies that inhibit these.
Why the interest in food policy?
Food policies affect decisions about what we eat and thus have the potential to promote both the health of local residents and the viability of local businesses. Local food policies that are thoughtfully developed and consistent with each other have increased likelihood of making a substantial positive difference in the quality and quantity of food eaten by people in a community and their quality of life.
What does the Cass County Food Policy Council do?
The Council plays a coordinating role for food policy within Cass County. It relies on the expertise of the public and private stakeholders who make daily decisions which may affect the kinds, qualities and quantities of food in the County. The stakeholders represented on the Council include farmers, food processors and providers (such as locker operators and grocery managers), institutional food service staff, public health personnel, members of community-based organizations, and consumers. The Council seeks to educate all constituents about agriculture and food and the issues involved.
Council Membership: The Cass County Local Food Policy Council (hereafter Council) will consist of up to nine (9) members chosen for their interest in food-related issues, wisdom, breadth of vision and experience with civic and governmental affairs. The members on the Council should represent a mix of food industry, nutrition and health, consumer and neighborhood advocates, and governmental interests. The Council may also include non-voting “Associate Members” who participate fully in the deliberations of the Council but do not vote in Council decisions. Associates will be selected because of their special interest in food-related issues and/or professional and organizational connections. Members and associate members of the Council shall be appointed by the Cass County Board of Supervisors. Members may be appointed at any time a vacancy exists and associate members can be appointed at any time. All members shall serve without compensation or remuneration.
Terms: Each Council member and each associate member shall serve for a term of four (4) years, with an actual or imputed start date of January 1 of the year in which their appointment begins. Members of either category may be reappointed to additional terms.
Participation: Council members are expected to participate actively in the work of the Council. Active participation is defined as attending most Council meetings, taking part in e-mail or other mediated discussions, commenting on proposals under consideration, representing the Council at events, and making other contributions to the Council’s business. If a member is given notice of concerns about lack of active participation at least two weeks ahead of any regular meeting, the Council may vote at that meeting to change the status of that Council member to associate member. Although associate members’ participation in any matter being considered by the Council will be welcomed and appreciated, their participation is expected mainly in matters relating to their particular interests and expertise.
Officers: A Chairperson, Vice-chairperson, and Secretary will be elected by the Council from its members each year to serve for a one-year term. Election of officers shall be held at the January meeting. These officers will be the official spokespersons for the Council and will preside at meetings and carry out the usual functions of those offices.
Executive committee: The Chairperson (committee chair), Vice-chairperson, Secretary, and Board of Supervisor’s Liaison (as ex officio) shall comprise the executive committee. The executive committee shall assist in managing the affairs of the Council between meetings, including proposing meeting agendas and approving expenditures for supplies and travel reimbursements up to $100. An account of all executive committee decisions shall be reported at the next Council meeting.
Small Grants Committee: The Chair may appoint from among Council members a three-person committee for handling small grant funding requests. Designated members of this committee will discuss goals and requirements with prospective applicants, receive grant proposals, and screen received proposals for appropriateness of topic and for meeting grant program requirements. The committee shall review proposals that pass the initial screening and make funding recommendations for Council consideration.
Nominating Committee: The Chair will appoint from among Council members, at an appropriate time each year, a nominating committee that will have two functions: (1) Developing a slate of officers to serve for the coming year; (2) Developing a list of recommended new members for the Council as needed.
Special Committees: To address specific issues or to carry out special projects, the Chair, with the approval of the Council, may designate special committees selected from among Council Members and Associate Members and assign appropriate responsibilities to such committees.
External Advisory Committees: From time to time the Council may utilize advisory committees. These groups may provide access to an additional spectrum of interest, which may not be represented on the Council itself. They may also enable the Council to gain access to areas of expertise related to subject matter topics under consideration.
Meetings and Conducting Business: Regular and special meetings. The Council shall hold its regular meetings at 4:15pm on the second Tuesdays of January, March, May, July, September, and November. At his or her option the Council Chair may call a “regular” meeting on the second Tuesday of any other month by giving one week’s advance notice. In addition, if a majority of the Executive Committee agrees that a particular matter is sufficiently urgent to require the Council to meet at any other time, a special meeting may be called with two days notice. “Regular” Council meetings may be conducted (a) in person, (b) by video conference (e.g., Zoom), (c) by conference call, (d) by any other means through which all participating Council members have full access to the proceedings, can contribute fully to discussing topics, and regular members can participate in decisions by vote or consensus, or (e) by any combination of these options.
Decisions outside of meetings: Outside-of-meeting means of decision making, for example by e-mail polling, may be used for (1) matters that have been discussed at a regular meeting and (a) a decision was not made for any reason such as important information being missing, or (b) a decision was made, but two or more of the Council officers determine that new information or that additional considerations warrant reconsidering that decision OR (2) new matters requiring action before the next regular meeting, but which the executive committee determines do not warrant calling a special meeting. In any matter decided by outside-of-meeting means of decision-making:
• Advance notice to all Council members of outside-of-meeting proposals shall be made not less than 4 days in advance of consideration of the matter.
• Full proposals and background information shall be distributed at least 2 days in advance.
• A motion and second shall be required and deliberation may be by any means by which all Council members are afforded full access to all of the discussion and can contribute fully to it.
• Voting shall be transparent and concluded by having the tallied votes shared with all members of the Council and each member having a minimum of 2 days to register an objection regarding any vote recorded for them before a decision is considered to be final.
• If any two regular members of the Council register their objection to deciding a particular matter by alternative decision-making procedures, then that matter shall be tabled until the next regular or special Council meeting.
• Any decision made by alternative means shall be included in the minutes of the next regular meeting.
Consent Agenda: The Council Chair may propose a consent agenda if a list of the consent agenda items and their supporting documents are included in a meeting packet circulated to all Council members by e-mail or other means at least 4 days ahead of a meeting. Suitable consent agenda items include prior meeting minutes, future meeting dates, informational reports, committee reports, and committee appointments. Any item or items may be removed from the consent agenda at the request of any Council member. Items remaining may be adopted by general consent without debate. Removed items will be placed on the regular part of the agenda.
Powers and Authority: The Council is an advisory body. It has no regulatory authority. The Council’s influence is through coordination, information exchange and networking and advocacy through reports and recommendations.
Administrative Assistance: The Council may need basic administrative assistance to facilitate its meetings and normal business (such as keeping minutes, sending out meeting announcements, helping with logistics, etc.). It may also be necessary to manage records of Council proceedings and documents related to its activities. Representatives of the County will work together with the Council to allocate responsibilities for administrative assistance to be provided from relevant County resources.
Bylaw Changes: These Council bylaws may be changed by majority vote at any regular meeting of the Council, provided that the proposed changes were circulated to the entire membership at least seven days in advance of the meeting and that any member who is not physically present at the meeting has been given the opportunity both to share their views on these proposed changes and to vote by remote means that may include video conference or a telephone call.