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We continue to collect what we’ve learned from multiple of years of food council development and put that information into user-friendly resources that food councils can use across the state.  Several toolkits are linked below that we encourage food councils to use in their work.  Each shares specific information about the North Carolina network.  Please contact us with any questions or feedback to improve these resources.

Strategic Advocacy Toolkit 

This tool offers a step-by-step approach to relationship building and policy change. We believe that effective strategy is essential for successful advocacy that can make a lasting, positive impact on your community. This toolkit is useful for groups just learning who the decision makers are in their community and for groups who are ready to create a full, printed advocacy plan building a case for change.

Currently, there is direct assistance available for a limited number of food councils that want to use this toolkit to:

  • Engage in strategic networking with decision-makers and food system stakeholders,
  • Draft and prioritize a policy platform,
  • Give input on local and regional planning processes, and
  • Create and implement strategic advocacy plans.

Some examples include:

  • Advocating for the inclusion of food system related language to comprehensive plan updates,
  • Advocating for the establishment of a Local Food Economy Fund,
  • Advocating for changes to municipal rules around commercial crop production

For questions about the TA available, email team member Jared Cates at

This online toolkit is meant to support food councils, community groups and individuals in the Carolinas in being strategic when engaging in advocacy efforts.

Food Council Development toolkits

Cultivating Relationships to Create Equitable Structures: A toolkit for food councils, 2022

This toolkit is designed to offer applied activities that support food councils in creating a ‘relational culture,’ a critical step in developing a food council that is effective in making change toward a more equitable food system. (shout out to dR works, who are responsible for the Principles for Action on which we have based this toolkit).

You can find a summary version of each Principle for Action for food councils on our website here, and the original Principles for Action at Dismantling Racism Works (dRworks) 10 Racial Equity Principles.

2017 Toolkit for Communities from Seed to Start-Up

This toolkit is intended for community members interested in developing a cross-sector group organized to positively impact food systems change in their whole community. We distilled our project team’s work in leading over 30 community groups through food council development into this toolkit. Our ‘best practices’ and example activities are outlined here, including tools for outreach, organizing, and decision making to create an active and engaged food council that has impact and staying power in your community.

Communities can use this toolkit as a starting place or a tool to come back to for re-organizing or re-energizing an existing council effort.

Please consider emailing us to let us know that you have downloaded this toolkit, and share your feedback on this toolkit’s utility. We intend to incorporate what we learn into future editions and would like to share updates with you. Please send comments and questions to

2017 Council Development Toolkit

Candidate Forum Toolkit

The steps outlined in this toolkit are based on our own experiences organizing candidate and community forums, our experiences working with elected officials, and on common best practices for these types of events.  Most of this document will refer to food councils as the hosts of these events, however any community group can use this toolkit as a guide to organizing a successful forum or meet-and-greet event.

Candidate Forum Toolkit PDF

Candidate Forum Worksheet

Audio Recording from 19-Minute Webinar: How to Use the Candidate Forum Toolkit

We suggest that you view the Worksheets and Toolkit as you listen to this audio recording of the above webinar. 

Featuring three 2016 Candidate Meet-and-Greet Forums.

Public Forum Toolkit

This toolkit will walk you through the process of planning a public forum, a meeting that bring people together and collect information from community members often in a directed and highly interactive discussion.

Public Forum Toolkit

Public Forum Worksheet

Collective Impact Toolkit

Organized around the idea of collective impact, the purpose of this toolkit is to support organizations conducting local food systems work by providing a method for these partnering groups to measure progress, share data, and use information to drive local food system strategies and activities. The toolkit is based on information gathered over several years from a series of local food system projects and case studies from across North Carolina.

Baseline Assessment Toolkit

This toolkit was developed by Community Food Strategies, a multi-organizational team that provides network and technical support for food council development throughout North Carolina. We partner with councils in all phases of development, with the goal of building more resilient and equitable food systems.

At the time of this toolkit design, the Community Food Strategies team is comprised of Abbey Piner, Gini Knight and Shorlette Ammons of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS), Amy Marion of the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP), Jared Cates of Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA), LaShauna Austria of Kindred Seedlings Farm, Lindsey Carver of the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, and Megan Bolejack of Care Share Health Alliance.


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