The San Mateo County Food System Alliance (SMFSA) is a collaboration of community leaders focused on creating a better future for farms, people, and the environment in San Mateo County. Since its founding in 2006 the group has shifted the dialogue about, and the policy around, food system issues.
The SMFSA is first and foremost a place to spur collaboration. In an early win, the group uncovered an opportunity for farming and food access groups to reduce costs by coordinating their shipping from one side of the county to the other. This occurred when for the first time farmers met their counterparts at the local food bank.
Being a member of the SMFSA has given me access to and insight on influential stakeholders in our food system. Because of this, I’ve developed an entirely new perspective on how policy is formed, and on the complexities of our food system. I can understand why systemic change is so difficult and takes so long- but, I also have an appreciation for how a small group of concerned people can have a broad and profound impact on society.
SMFSA has focused on both short and long-term changes. In their “Garden in Every School” campaign, the group advocated for garden-based education for both health and environmental awareness. Their work on permitting on-farm water storage has been diligent and ultimately rewarded by changes in State permitting requirements. The group’s farm-to-institution program is among the state’s most robust in connecting healthcare institutions with farms.
Ag Innovations founded SMFSA and has provided facilitation and staff support throughout its 8-year life. Based on principles we have honed in dozens of similar community-based collaborations, the San Mateo group reflects the best of what we have learned about empowering local leadership for change.
Visit Partner: San Mateo County Health System
Producing, Distributing, and Consuming Healthy Local Food: Ingredients for a Sustainable Food System
The San Mateo County Food System Alliance’s policy brief Producing, Distributing, and Consuming Healthy Local Food: Ingredients for a Sustainable Food System provides recommendations for a healthy food system applicable to any community.