Creating systems change is a group effort. We are here to support local food councils across the state of North Carolina, but in order to do so we must successfully work together as a team first. To this end, we have adopted specific methodologies to help us be more focused in our work and to guide us towards creating best practices. Our team culture, project structure, and approach starts with our values and incorporates the following principles or frameworks.
Learn more about how we use these methods and why these frameworks could work for your coalition.
Although many communities suffer from food system disparities, data shows that communities of color suffer disproportionately. In order to uplift and empower everyone, change must start with the individuals most acutely impacted by food insecurity and other food-related outcomes.
Community Food Strategies and our project partner, Committee on Racial Equity in the Food System, believe that looking at food disparity through the lens of racial disparities is the first step in creating a more equitable food system for all.
Food councils interested in focusing on Racial Equity in their work should be aware that –
- When addressing the root causes of food system disparities, it is essential to first address the history of systemic racism on our communities and society as a whole
- Creating shared, inclusive language to address racial equity within our policies and practices helps to ensure better outcomes for everyone
- Increasing capacity in communities most impacted by food insecurities and inequities creates greater impact across the board
Ties to our values of community-led work, being responsive to community needs and creating impact through systems change
- We believe food is a connector and vehicle to drive community change.
- We believe community-led work honors history, place, community voice, and all perspectives.
- We believe equity includes addressing structural racism, diversity and inclusion to create shared prosperity.
Network Weaving is the process of building community and strengthening social capital by creating connections between people and organizations working on the same issue or vision.
We use the Network Weaver model internally to create shared leadership opportunities and project-based action teams. Community Food Strategies also works to weave networks across North Carolina to help build trust, foster connections, and to support the growth of food councils within their local communities.
The Network Weaver Handbook is a practical guide for organizations or individuals interested in catalyzing a new network or enhancing an existing one. This resource can help local food councils improve their circles of influence, discover different ways to build and engage their network, and develop strategies to implement these new processes.
Ties to our values of relationships and collaboration
- We believe communities can create the greatest impact through system change which is done through strategic connections and community empowerment.
- We are responsive to community needs, emerging ideas, and exploratory solutions.
- We believe collaboration requires trust and accountability.
- We believe trusted relationships are critical for systems change and lasting sustainability.
Whole Measures for Community Food Systems
Whole Measures for Community Food Systems is a planning and evaluation tool that helps organizations look beyond their specific audience and think in terms of the broadest possible picture for a healthy community centered around food.
We use Whole Measures as a way to ensure we are incorporating all the elements and stakeholders of a community-centered food system:
- Strong communities
- Thriving local economies
- Resilient ecosystems
- Healthy people
- Vibrant farms and gardens
Food councils can use this tool to help define outcomes, inform and explore areas of importance for their local communities and regions, and support dialogue across multiple perspectives.
Ties to our values of food as a connector and community-led work
Whole Measures for Community Food Systems
Circle Forward is a system for collaborative governance. It enables organizations and networks to build inclusive, equitable, and adaptive governance systems by addressing power dynamics through the principle of Consent.
These effective communication practices are particularly useful in teams of 10-15, both in person or virtual. Our team uses the concept of a ‘round’ from Circle Forward regularly, most notably in our monthly Circle (Strategy) Calls, named after the Circle Forward process. These methods provide opportunities for equal contribution and effective communication, and help create space for all voices in the room to be heard.
Food councils looking to adopt Circle Forward methods can benefit from a consent-based, shared leadership model. This system supports organizations through relationship building, developing common values, and creating a specific tool for making decisions.
Ties to our values of equity and collaboration
Collective Impact is a cooperative framework that brings diverse groups together in a structured way to address complex societal issues, like building an equitable food system, solving childhood hunger, or improving healthcare access. One organization or entity cannot accomplish this alone.
Community Food Strategies is an intentionally multi-organizational initiative and continually explores opportunities to reflect this model and the wealth that comes from partnerships. We also work to ensure that our Collective Impact approach is coupled with methods based in equity, especially focusing on racial equity.
By creating common agendas, pooling strengths, and encouraging communication and collaboration, food councils that work within the collective impact concept can achieve even greater progress on their goals.
Ties to our values of collaboration and impact through systems change
Results-based Accountability (RBA) is a data-driven decision making process that starts by looking at the difference your organization is trying to make and working backwards towards the means. RBA asks three simple questions-
- How much did we do?
- How well did we do it?
- Is anyone better off?
We have used RBA facilitation techniques to help gather information and input from community groups to inform assessments, strategies, and direction.
This process is crucial when creating plans to evaluate current and future initiatives. It is beneficial for food councils that want a simple, collaborative process that is easily understood and can be implemented quickly.
Ties to our values of being responsive and collaborative