The Food Policy Audit: A New Tool for Community Food System Planning


  • Jennifer O'Brien University of Virginia
  • Tanya Denckla Cobb University of Virginia



Audit, Food Policy, Food System Curriculum, Food System Planning, Local Food, Local Food Policy, Planning Tool, Sustainable Food System, Planning Policy


The Food Policy Audit was developed in response to the growing need for tools to assist in the food planning process and was piloted in a graduate urban and environmental planning course at the University of Virginia. The audit proceeded in two phases: phase one consisted of 113 yes-or-no research questions regarding the existence of food-based policy relating to public health, economic development, environmental impacts, social equity, and land conservation; phase two confirmed the validity of phase one's results through a series of stakeholder meetings. The meetings also provided insight into the success of policies and initiatives currently in place, community attitudes and perceptions, and community priorities for moving forward. The Food Policy Audit process proved educationally beneficial to both students and community members, and provided a policy-based tool for communities interested in shaping a more sustainable and resilient food system.


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Author Biographies

Jennifer O'Brien, University of Virginia

Graduate Student, Urban and Environmental Planning, University of Virginia.

Tanya Denckla Cobb, University of Virginia

Director, Institute for Environmental Negotiation; Lecturer, Department of Urban and Environmental Planning, University of Virginia.



How to Cite

O’Brien, J., & Cobb, T. D. (2012). The Food Policy Audit: A New Tool for Community Food System Planning. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 2(3), 177–191.