In Indianapolis, as in other cities, the food system just isn’t working well for citizens. The statistics, in fact, are staggering: in Marion County, 2/3 of adults are obese or overweight, one in five don’t know where there next meal will come from, and 5,000 IPS school children suffer from chronic malnourishment. At the same time, Hoosiers spend nearly $16 billion on food, 90% of it is imported from out of state, costing Hoosiers wealth, income, and jobs. Instead of utilizing our farmland to become more food secure, our food travels an average of 1,400 miles to get to grocery stores using non-renewable fossil fuels.

A food council is a group of food system stakeholders that come together to seek solutions to these problems. These stakeholders come from all parts of the food system and all walks of life. They include health care professionals, community organizers, hunger advocates, restaurant owners, produce distributors, academics, ecologists, government employees, urban gardeners, farmers’ market managers, food truck operators, chefs, farmers, educators, and, of course, concerned citizens.

The purpose of a food council is to reach across professions, sectors, and silos in order to connect, share ideas, and build a healthier food system by building stronger networks among stakeholders. Food councils also catalyze projects and advance initiatives that would not be possible without the collaboration and community that a council provides. Finally, food councils also formulate, education, and raise awareness about policies that will create a food system that works better for everyone.