Name: Food Policy Council of San Antonio
Year it started: 2010
Vision: Healthy, fresh, affordable food accessible to all, in a vibrant local food economy.
Members/Structure: The Council is an all-volunteer board that serves as a forum for stakeholders to advance this vision through community outreach, policy research, and advocacy.
What they do: The Food Policy Council of San Antonio gathers from and disseminates information to all who work toward a healthy local food environment in the San Antonio area and advocates for policy improvements relating to food.
How they do it: The following initiatives are led by work groups that bring concerned residents together with subject matter experts in order to address food policy issues and generate solutions.
- The Farm to School Program aims to increase the procurement, use, and consumption of fresh, local foods in schools and to promote the use of school gardens for education. This project empowers students and their families to make educated decisions about the foods they eat as well as to strengthen the local economy by supporting local farmers and ranchers. Current projects include the development of a resource guide for those interested in starting a Farm to School project as well as a map of existing school gardens in Bexar County.
- The Farmers Markets Work Group supports the expansion of farmers markets in San Antonio and advocates for fair fee structures for producers and market managers. They also aim to promote the use of nutrition benefit programs (i.e SNAP, WIC, FMNP) at farmers markets and are working on a map of local farmers markets that includes information on bus routes and producers who accept nutrition benefit programs.
- The Healthy Corner Stores Work Group focuses on municipal policies and community programs to increase the quantity of healthy foods carried and purchased at corner stores in under-served communities in San Antonio. Their Healthy Corner Stores program proposal has been piloted in one city council district and adopted by the local health department, with dedicated staffing. The program’s goal is to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables in under-served communities by working with local convenience stores to develop a sustainable sales model for buying and selling more produce. It provides display options such as shelving and refrigerations, helps to reduce the wholesale cost of produce from distributors, and markets the program to potential customers. To date, the program has supported the sale of almost a million pounds of produce at participating convenience stores.
- The Urban Agriculture Work Group promotes the increase of agriculture within the city through policy, education, and collaboration. They worked with the Development Services Department to create an information bulletin summarizing the impact of zoning-code changes on the development of urban farms in San Antonio. That step informed their efforts to work with urban farmers for additional code improvements, which are being reviewed by the City. This work group is also involved in the development of the city’s first Food Forest which is highlighted below.
Latest project/campaign: The Food Policy Council of San Antonio collaborated with the City Council to secure funding and space for the development of the city’s first Food Forest which involves the diverse planting of edible plants to mimic the ecosystems and patterns found in nature. The Food Forest is a 4-acre space located at Padre Park with the purpose of providing a perennial food resource to the community, a hands-on learning opportunity for crop cultivation, and a cultural education experience on indigenous food systems. It serves as an example for how urban agriculture can also provide environmental services, and is intended as a model for efficient public land use throughout the city. The Food Forest launched in February 2022 with the planting of 60 pecan and fruit trees.
Interesting fact about how they are working to positively affect the food system: In 2017, the Food Policy Council of San Antonio supported changes to the Livestock ordinance that increased the number of backyard chickens allowed without a permit from three to eight. Since then, the Council has organized the annual San Antonio Chicken Walk Coop Tour, whose purpose is to educate the public about San Antonio’s chicken ordinance and showcase the many ways that people are caring for backyard chickens. They have also developed informational resources for chicken owners to learn more about the regulations as well as basic poultry care.
Number of staff: The Council is composed of an all-volunteer board
Areas served: San Antonio, Texas
President: Mitch Hagney
Social Media: Follow the Food Policy Council of San Antonio on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for updates on current work and emerging priorities.
- San Antonio Food Policy Council’s Chicken Coop Tour Returns After Two-Year Hiatus (San Antonio Current, April 11th, 2022)
- Food For Thought: Nonprofit Will Plant City’s First ‘Food Forest’ Sunday (San Antonio Report, February 24th, 2022)
- Padre Park Food Forest Project Aims to Connect San Antonio Urban Residents With Nature (Youtube, January 23rd, 2022)
- Healthy Corner Store Project Expands to Districts 1, 2, 4, and 7 (San Antonio Current, December 11th, 2020)
- Healthy Corner Stores Program Overview (City of San Antonio)
- Healthy Corner Store Update: Produce Sales in San Antonio’s Biggest Food Desert Jumped by Nearly 600% in Four Months (San Antonio Current, September 25th, 2019)
- SA Chicken Tour Coop (San Antonio Food Policy Council YouTube, May 10th 2018)
- How Healthy Is San Antonio’s ‘Food System’? (The Source, February 15th, 2017)
- City Council Makes Urban Farming Legal Throughout City (San Antonio Report, January 17th, 2016)