Category Archives: News

Launch of Global Food Policy Database

Press release

UB and RUAF Announce International Launch of Global Database for City and Regional Food Policies

Release date: October 16, 2017

The University at Buffalo’s Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab and Community for Global Health Equity in partnership with RUAF (Global partnership for sustainable Urban Agriculture and Food systems) are pleased to announce the launch of the Global Database for City and Regional Food Policies. This database is the first publically available repository (database) of international sub-national food system policies in the world.

Over the past nine months, the partners have worked to develop a searchable database of city and regional policies developed and enacted by cities around the world. The project was conceived two years ago in response to the demand from many cities for support to their own food policy design processes. The database is a public internet resource maintained on the UB Food Lab website, which can be accessed online here:

Urban and regional food system sustainability and resilience are a growing international concern. Due to challenges related to rapid urban growth; growing food and nutrition insecurity; unbalanced food availability, distribution and access; environmental degradation, resource scarcity and climate change; and unsustainable production and consumption patterns, including generation of food waste, sub-national governments around the world are grappling with how to build a sustainable, equitable food system for their residents. City and Regional food systems enable the growing, processing, distribution, and acquisition of food, and management, reduction, and recovery of excess food and food-related waste in urban and sub-national territories. The United Nation’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and UN-Habitat’s New Urban Agenda recognize that sustainable development cannot be achieved without building more resilient cities. International declarations like the

The Global Database for City and Regional Food Policies fills an existing gap in information. Governing bodies at sub-national levels – town, village, city, municipal, regional, provincial, state – are becoming more aware of the need to support, encourage and regulate urban and peri-urban agriculture activities as well as other related food systems and land use issues. Many sub-national governments across the globe express a clear demand for information and knowledge and concrete policy examples to help them develop and enact food-related plans and policies. Without a single, searchable resource of existing policies, sub-national governments struggle to find an accessible retrieval location for examples of policies that strengthen food systems, and which are appropriate for their level of capacity and influence.
Drawing on prior work completed on the Growing Food Connections database of policies from the United States and Canada, the team developed the searchable Global Database for City and Regional Food Policies that provides copies of legislation, plans, funding allocations, or other public policy actions adopted by sub-national governments around the world. The goal of the database is to emphasize cross-national learning both between Global North and Global South, and among countries in the Global North and South. The database stores PDFs of actual adopted and/or enacted policies, regulations, plans and ordinances on a range of food systems topics ranging from food production, processing, consumption, and food waste management. Researchers from the UB Food Lab and RUAF have populated the database with an initial set of policies provided by RUAF. Each policy is coded with a series of categorical search terms that allow users to prioritize the type of policy they wish to find through the Advanced Search feature. The database includes categories such as country, language, policy type, food system sector, level of government, population size, and spatial distinction (urban, rural, peri-urban). In addition, the research team assigned a set of keywords to each policy, so that users may search via the Basic Search tool, which features an auto-fill component of the keywords for users with interest in general topic areas.

Fore greater usability of the database for a global audience, policies are included in the language of the associated jurisdiction. Users can access the link to the database on various international forum websites, including,, and others.

The policy database will be updated with additional policies regularly. The UB Food Lab and RUAF will engage local policy-makers and planners to provide insight and local knowledge on the policies, enhance the coding process, and help disseminate the resource.

The team welcomes any local governments or support organizations from around the world to submit adopted, sub-national policies for coding and inclusion on the database at any time. Policy submissions (in PDF form) can be sent to the Food Lab team at

Sub-national food systems policies from the United States and Canada are available on the Growing Food Connections website at

The development and creation of the database was made possible by support from the University at Buffalo (UB), Community for Global Health Equity (CGHE), Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab, and RUAF (Global partnership for sustainable Urban Agriculture and Food systems). Special thanks goes to Marielle Dubbeling, Executive Director of RUAF; Dr. Samina Raja, Principal Investigator of the Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab and Co-lead of CGHE at UB; Doug McCullum, Web Manager for the UB School of Architecture and Planning; Daniela Leon, and Grace O’Connor, Joe Quinn, Erin Sweeney and Danielle Vazquez, Research Interns and Assistants at the Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab.

Urban Agriculture and the Next Farm Bill Symposium, Friday Sept. 30

The GW Sustainability Collaborative’s annual symposium brings together policy makers, academics, and practitioners to identify current scientific findings and future research questions in the field of sustainability. This year’s conference will focus on the role of urban agriculture in the forthcoming 2018 Farm Bill. The symposium will take place on September 30th, 2016 from 9am to 5pm in the Jack Morton Auditorium on the George Washington University Campus.  

The event is co-hosted by three organizations – AGree, Michigan State University, and the University of the District of Columbia. AGree’s mission is to drive positive change in the food and agriculture system by connecting and challenging leaders from diverse communities to build consensus, catalyze action, and elevate food and agriculture as a national priority. Michigan State University’s Center for Regional Food Systems is committed to research, education and outreach to develop regionally integrated, sustainable food systems. The University of the District of Columbia is the only public higher education institution in DC, and the only urban land-grant university in the nation with a College of Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences, as well as a College of Agriculture.

Featured speakers include Rep. Marcy Kaptur (OH-9); Elanor Starmer, Administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service; Nicolas Jammet, CEO and co-founder of sweetgreen; Debra Eschemeyer, former AGree Advisor, Senior White House Policy Advisor for Nutrition, and Executive Director of Let’s Move!; A.G. Kawamura, AGree Advisor and former California Secretary of Agriculture; Tom Forester, Milan Pact Awards Coordinator; Malik Yakini, director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network; and many more.

Free and open to the public. Please RSVP here! Also livestreaming at Please share this event widely with your networks.

Questions? Please email Ariel Kagan, arielkagan@gwu.eduDisplaying

ACSP Delegation to Habitat III Includes Four Faculty, Including Samina Raja

American Collegiate Schools of Planning will be sending four faculty delegates to the 2016 Habitat III Conference in October. The Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab is excited that our own Dr. Samina Raja will be one of the delegates!  See the ACSP announcement below. 

Four ACSP Faculty Named Official Delegates to the 2016 Habitat III Conference in Quito

ACSP has been granted Special Accreditation for Habitat III and has submitted four names for our ACSP delegation to the conference:

  • Bruce Stiftel: Professor of City and Regional Planning, Georgia Institute of Technology; former President, Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning
  • Annette Kim: Associate Professor and Director, Spatial Analysis Lab, University of Southern California
  • Samina Raja: Associate Professor, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University at Buffalo
  • Jason Corburn: Associate Professor of City & Regional Planning, University of California, Berkeley

Habitat III is the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, and is taking place in Quito, Ecuador, on 17-20 October 2016. It is the first United Nations global summit after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals. It offers a unique opportunity to discuss the important challenge of how cities, towns, and villages are planned and managed, in order to fulfill their role as drivers of sustainable development, and how they can shape the implementation of the new global development goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Learn More

Call for Applicants – Food Justice/Food Policy Faculty Position at Evergreen State College

Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA has posted a job listing for a faculty member to teach food justice and food policy. For more information, review the description below and visit the original posting here.  Review of applications begins on October 24, 2016. 

Food Justice/Food Policy Faculty Call

This is a full time faculty position starting in the 2017/18 academic year.

The Evergreen State College seeks a broadly trained social scientist or historian with expertise in sustainable food systems, food policy, and food justice. Applicants must be able to teach topics related to food sovereignty and food security through the lens of food/agricultural policy, economics and history, including within regular repeating programs such asEcological Agriculture and Food, Health & Sustainability. In addition, the successful candidate must have experience in community food advocacy at the local, regional and/or global level, and experience working with diverse and underrepresented populations.

Faculty at Evergreen are expected to teach undergraduates at all levels. Applicants should demonstrate commitment to developing interdisciplinary curricula with faculty colleagues and in helping undergraduates develop the capacity to link theory to practice in and out of the classroom. Evergreen’s curricular structure facilitates project-based undergraduate research, as well as internships with public and private organizations, including local and state agencies and tribes. The preferred candidate would have experience in pursuing innovative teaching practices, including experience supporting project-based undergraduate research and a desire to support and develop internship opportunities in collaboration with the Center for Community-Based Learning and Action.

Minimum Qualifications: 

  • Ph.D. (or equivalent terminal degree) plus practical experience working with community food advocacy or a Master’s degree plus a minimum of five (5) years of community-based experience with issues of food justice, food policy or related fields;
  • Ability to teach topics related to food sovereignty and food security through the lens of food/agricultural policy and economics;
  • Ability to teach food and agriculture policy in a historical context, including within regular repeating programs like Ecological Agriculture;
  • College level teaching experience;
  • Strong commitment to undergraduate teaching at all levels;
  • Experience working with diverse and underrepresented populations;
  • Strong interest in contributing to a curriculum that emphasizes connecting theory to practice.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Desire to continue community food advocacy work with undergraduate students;
  • Experience teaching more than one discipline;
  • Experience pursuing innovative and engaging teaching strategies;
  • Ability to support students’ development of writing and quantitative reasoning skills;
  • Experience dealing with the barriers and challenges of developing a functional, locally focused food system.

Review of complete applications begins October 24, 2016.  We will continue to accept applications until finalists are selected.

New research by Dr. Chrisinger documents the past decade of fresh food financing initiatives

A recently released article by Dr. Ben Chrisinger from the Community Development Investment Center of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank documents the last decade of fresh food financing initiatives and developments across the nation.  The working paper released in July 2016 discusses the varied federal, state, and local initiatives that have emerged to address disparate healthy food access.  Over 125 fresh food financing initiatives have been developed in the past ten years – Dr. Chrisinger provides information on locations, financing, development, and health promotion efforts of these projects across the county.

The publication, Taking Stock of New Supermarkets in Food Deserts: Patterns in Development, Financing, and Health Promotion, is freely available here. An abstract is below.


Motivated by disparate healthy food access in neighborhoods across the US, federal, state, and local initiatives have emerged to develop supermarkets in “food deserts.” Differences in the implementation of these initiatives are evident, including the presence of health programming, yet no comprehensive inventory of projects exists to assess their impact. Using interviews, public databases, and media archives, I collected details (project location, financing, development, health promotion efforts) about all supermarket developments under “fresh food financing” regimes in the US, 2004-2015. In total, I identified 126 projects. Projects have been developed in a majority of states, with concentrations in the mid-Atlantic and Southern California regions. Average store size was approximately 28,100 square feet, and those receiving financial assistance from local sources and New Markets Tax Credits were significantly larger, while those receiving assistance from other federal sources were significantly smaller. About 24 percent included health-oriented features; of these, over 80 percent received federal financing. If new supermarkets alone are insufficient for health behavior change, greater attention to these nuances is needed from program designers, policymakers, and advocates who seek to continue fresh food financing programs. Efforts to reduce rates of diet-related disease by expanding food access can be improved by taking stock of existing efforts.


Student Recruitment and Funding Announced for Critical Urban Food Studies at University of Calgary

The University of Calgary Department of Geography is announcing funding for Masters and Doctoral students who have an interest in Critical Urban Food Studies. Please see the announcement below from Dr. Marit Rosol for more information.


Seeking outstanding individuals for either Master or Ph.D. level studies in the Department of Geography, University of Calgary, with a strong interest in Critical Urban Food Studies

Start date will be January 2017 (preferably) or possibly September 2017. Please apply internally to Prof. Dr. Marit Rosol before 23 August 2016 (see below).


  • Research project idea that fits within the team’s focus on critical urban food geographies and food justice
  • Outstanding previous degree performance
  • Enthusiasm for research, including interest (M.A.) or experience (Ph.D.) in producing peer-reviewed publications, as well as willingness to participate in off-campus activities such as conferences, workshops, or meetings
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills, well-developed organizational skills
  • An ability to work independently, as well as collaboratively, to multi-task, and contribute to research projects in a team outside of your core research

More information on my own research can be found here:


You need to apply for funding through scholarships and/ or through the Department of Geography. Funding will be awarded from the department competitively on the basis of degree performance, research productivity, references supplied, and teaching ability. Funding for M.A. students is $19,000/yr (2 years), and $21,000/yr for Ph.D. students (4 years). International students, who pay higher tuition fees, receive a slightly larger stipend. For academic programme requirements and departmental funding see:…

You may receive additional funding through my research grants. Further support for field work, conferences and other project-related travel can also be awarded.

How to apply:

Please direct questions to Marit Rosol (; phone: +1 403 220 6200). Interested applicants are asked to email the following documents in a single pdf-file to me before 23 August 2016:

  • cover letter/ statement of interest
  • outline of potential research project (containing a title, topic, research question, background and relevance, research design/ methodology, potential empirical case study including geographical location, max. 1 page + short bibliography
  • current CV
  • names and contact details of two potential referees
  • transcripts

Formal application deadline for program will be September 15th 2016 (for entry in January). More information on the graduate programs (thesis-based) see here:

Minimum academic requirements for Graduate Studies are a 3.00 grade point average on the 4 point scale calculated over the last two full years of a four year undergraduate degree or equivalent. Ph.D. applicants also require a Master´s degree. If your degree is not from a Canadian institution, you can check the Graduate Studies website for information on International requirements for admission at If your first language is not English, and you have not attended a University or College with a teaching medium of English, then you will have to provide either a minimum TOEFL score of 550 (paper-based) or 80 (internet–based system) or an IELTS score of 7.0.

About the University and the city of Calgary:
The University of Calgary is a leading comprehensive research university, with over 30,000 students, including over 5,000 graduate students, and ranks among the Canadian top ten on a broad cross-section of measures, including research funding, endowment, graduation of PhD students, fundraising, and the quality of its professoriate. The city of Calgary is a young and cosmopolitan city, and the nation’s most rapidly growing one. It has a light rail system with easy access to the University. Calgary boasts an extensive urban pathway and bikeway network. The city itself and the Rocky Mountains at about an hour’s drive distance offer countless recreation opportunities. It is also the sunniest of large Canadian cities (333 days per year).

New article by GFC investigators finds extension agents’ perspectives has an impact on their food systems work

A recent article led by Growing Food Connections investigator Jill K. Clark was released in the Journal of Agriculture and Human Values summer edition. The paper documents the perspectives of Cooperative Extension Educators on their role in shaping the food system. By conducting virtual focus groups with Extension Educators in communities engaging in food systems practice, the authors find that mobilizing resources to address food systems change relies on consensus among educators regarding goals and strategies for change. Findings suggest that Extension Educator goals for food systems change often focus on inclusion of marginalized actors by bringing resources, via projects, to under served producers and consumers. Because Extension Educators are politically neutral, changing the market paradigm via policy is often not a part of the extension framework. Click here to read the full article.


Clark, Jill K., Molly Bean, Samina Raja, Scott Loveridge, Julia Freedgood, and Kimberley Hodgson. 2016. Cooperative Extension and Food System Change: Goals, Strategies, and ResourcesAgriculture and Human Values. 33.2.


Recent attention to communities “localizing” food systems has increased the need to understand the perspectives of people working to foster collaboration and the eventual transformation of the food system. University Cooperative Extension Educators (EEs) increasingly play a critical role in communities’ food systems across the United States, providing various resources to address local needs. A better understanding of EEs’ perspectives on food systems is therefore important. Inspired by the work of Stevenson, Ruhf, Lezberg, and Clancy on the social food movement, we conducted national virtual focus groups to examine EEs’ attitudes about how food system change should happen, for what reasons, and who has the resources, power, and influence to effect change. The institutions within which EEs are embedded shape their perceptions of available resources in the community, including authority and power (and who holds them). These resources, in turn, structure EEs’ goals and strategies for food system change. We find that EEs envision working within the current food system: building market-centric alternatives that address inequity for vulnerable consumers and producers. EEs bring many resources to the table but do not believe they can influence those who have the authority to change policy. While these findings could suggest EEs’ limited ability to be transformative change agents, EEs can potentially connect their efforts with new partners that share perceptions of food system problems and solutions. As EEs increasingly engage in food system work and with increasingly diverse stakeholders, they can access alternative, transformational frames within which to set goals and organize their work.

Study reports that farmers’ markets should be only one part of larger comprehensive approach to decreasing health disparities

A new article in the Journal of the American Planning Association by Bryce Lowery, David Sloane, Jacqueline Illum, and Lavonna Lewis provides empirical research on whether farmers’ markets provide fresh vegetables and fruit consistently across locations.  The article reports findings from an audit of products at 24 farmers’ markets, supplemented by interviews with farmers’ market managers across Los Angeles County, CA. Findings suggest that there is great variety across farmers’ markets in produce offerings and produce freshness, with markets in low-income and non-White communities having fewer fresh healthy food options. Furthermore, farmers’ market managers struggle to attract farmers to their markets when they face competition from markets in higher income neighborhoods. The article concludes with a broader call to city planners to consider undertaking community food assessments to evaluate the proper role and placement of farmers markets within communities.


Lowery, Bryce, David Sloan, Jacqueline Illum, and Lavonna Lewis. Do Farmers’ Markets Increase Access to Healthy Foods for All Communities? Comparing Markets in 24 Neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Journal of the American Planning Association. 2016.


Problem, research strategy, and findings: Farmers’ markets provide one option for remedying the startling decline in fresh vegetable and fruit consumption in the United States, particularly in low-income, non-White neighborhoods where opportunities to access these components of a healthy diet are often limited. We lack empirical research on whether farmer’s markets provide fresh vegetables and fruits consistently across locations. We audited product offerings at 24 farmers’ markets in Los Angeles at two points in time and interviewed a sample of market managers to compare market offerings across neighborhoods to determine whether farmers’ markets alleviate disparities experienced by low-income and non-White communities. Farmers’ markets in low-income and non-White communities are smaller and provide fewer fresh fruits and vegetables than markets situated in more affluent communities. Managers suggest that their first priority is to stock fresh produce, but other factors such as competition and farmer recruitment and retention often influence market offerings.

Takeaway for practice: Planners cannot count on farmers’ markets to fully remedy disparities in the availability of fresh vegetables and fruits. We need additional research to understand the range of social, ecological, and health benefits created by farmers’ markets in a neighborhood. Planners should begin working with other agencies to conduct community food assessments to better evaluate strategies for addressing inequalities seen in neighborhood access to healthy food.

Acculturating into (In)active Commuting to School article by Food Lab faculty and alum released in Children, Youth and Environments

The Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab is pleased to announce the release of a new article in Children, Youth, and Environments.  Written by Food Lab faculty affiliate So-Ra Baek, Food Lab Principle Investigator Samina Raja and two Food Lab alums Nathan Attard and Maryam Khojasteh, the article examines Safe Routes to School programming in a suburban school district. Through exploring how the cultural backgrounds of caregivers influences their perceptions and attitudes of children’s active commuting, the authors draw conclusions for how cultural factors and perceptions of safety should be considered in the development of future Safe Routes to School programs.


This study explores how the cultural backgrounds of caregivers influence their perceptions and attitudes toward their children’s active commuting to school. Caregivers in a suburban school district reported low rates of active commuting among children. Domestic and foreign-born caregivers differed in their perceptions of safety from crime. In addition, foreign-born caregivers who are more acculturated tend to be more reluctant to allow children’s active commuting to school in the near future, compared to foreign-born caregivers who are less acculturated. Cultural factors and perceptions of safety from crime should be considered in the development of programs that promote active commuting to school.


Baek, So-Ra, Samina Raja, Nathan Attard, and Maryam Khojasteh. (2016). “Acculturating into (In)active Commuting to School: Differences between Children of Foreign-Born and U.S.-Born Caregivers.” Children, Youth and Environments. 26(1): 37-55.


Dr. So-Ra Baek is an Assistant Professor within the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York. Her current research focuses on the connection between the built environment, physical activity, and health outcomes, particularly among marginalized populations including women, immigrants, and children. She is a Co-Principal Investigator of Safe Routes to School in the Sweet Home Central School District, a project supported by the Town of Amherst, New York that intends to increase rates of active commuting to school by the students in the town.

Dr. Samina Raja is an Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning and Adjunct Associate Professor of Community Health and Health Behavior at the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York. Her research, teaching, and public service focuses on the role of planning in building sustainable food systems and healthy communities. She is the Principal Investigator at the Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab and serves as the Principal Investigator of Safe Routes to School in the Sweet Home Central School District.

Nathan Attard is a Research Analyst at the Institute for Community Health Promotion at SUNY Buffalo State, and was previously a research assistant in the Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab. His research interests focus on active transportation, community food systems, and planning for public health.

Maryam Khojasteh is a Doctoral Student in the Department of City and Regional Planning, at the University of Pennsylvania, and formerly served as a research project assistant in the Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab. Her research interests focus on community food systems, immigrant entrepreneurship, and health disparities.

City of Madison Food Policy Coordinator Position Open

The City of Madison is hiring a Food Policy Coordinator. This position will direct food policy work for the City of Madison by providing leadership and strategic direction to policymakers and stakeholders including, but not limited to, policy development, coordination, implementation, and analysis.  This position will also oversee several food-related programs and provide administration and analysis of the programs. The position will have an intense focus on increasing equitable access to healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate food to all communities and developing polices that positively impact the health and well-being of all residents of the City of Madison and beyond.

See full position description here.

Apply for this position by June 23, 2016.