The places where we live, learn, work and play impact our health. Many communities lack equitable access to affordable, healthy, locally grown food and safe and inviting places for physical activity and play. This makes healthy choices hard choices and contributes to health disparities, childhood obesity and chronic disease. Food & Fitness is a unique initiative that envisions vibrant communities that provide equitable access to affordable, healthy, locally grown food and safe and inviting places for physical activity and play. It is focused on changing the policies and systems that impact the quality of our food and fitness environments, especially those in low-income, underserved and racially diverse communities.
This presentation and the conference call discussions to follow have two objectives: To develop a common understanding in the Food and Fitness Initiative of what we mean by “policy and systems change” and To demonstrate ways collaborative members can engage in policy and systems change efforts
In 2007, the Kellogg Foundation identified nine communities to become models of change. The communities were chosen for their demonstrated commitment to collaboration and early successes at improving their food and fitness environment, including unique and effective programs. While programs can–and often do–lead to changes in individuals and/or communities, unless they are scaled up and instituted through formal policies, programs may not outlast funding or be sustainable. We are getting away from an emphasis on programs and moving toward a focus on policies and systems. Long-lasting and sustainable change to our food and fitness environments requires systems change driven by new and improved policies.
For the purposes of Food & Fitness, what do we mean by policy and policy change?
We make the distinction between two kinds of policy: organizational and public.
Organizational policy is: A set of rules and understandings that govern behavior and practice within a business, nonprofit or government agency. Organizational policies, for example policies of private corporations, can have a broader impact beyond the workplace to consumers and surrounding communities.
Public policy is: A set of agreements about how government shall address societal needs and spend public funds that are articulated by leaders in all three branches of government and embedded in many different policy instruments (for example, laws and regulations)
Routine practices, cultural norms, customs, and unwritten agreements about behavior are NOT policy, but can influence and be influenced by policy. This presentation will focus on formal policies and policy change. However, it should be recognized that individual and collective action can lead to changes in routine practices, customs and norms, which can then generate demand for policy and systems change.
What is policy change? Policy change refers not only to the enactment of new policies, but also to a change in or enforcement of existing policies. Again, these policies can be organizational or public. What follows are examples that illustrate policy in both the organizational and public arenas that are relevant to Food & Fitness.
In organizations, policies can be developed that create opportunities for increased physical activity and access to healthy food.
The Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan, a consortium of Michigan’s federally recognized tribes, instituted two policies recognizing the importance of food and fitness to the health of their workers and families. One policy allows employees enrolled in a structured fitness program during the course of normal working hours up to five hours per week with pay for exercise time. Another policy allows nursing mothers to either: Bring their baby to work with them until the baby is six months of age, or Adopt a more flexible schedule that enables them to pump their breast milk while at work.
The farmers market in Durango, Colorado instituted a policy, which states that the market will participate in the Colorado Farmers’ Market Association Electronic Banking Transaction–or EBT–that is part of the Food Stamp Program. Additionally, the policy sets up the rule that vendors who sell Food Stamp-eligible items must accept Food Stamp coupons and are required to sign an EBT agreement.
Kaiser Permanente instituted a comprehensive food policy. This policy established guidelines for working with local farmers, community-based organizations and food suppliers to increase the availability of locally grown food. The policy supports the provision of healthy, locally grown food in its cafeterias to improve the health of staff, patients and the surrounding community.
In the public sphere, policies are established through actions in the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government at local, state, national and tribal levels.
The legislative branch is where laws are written and approved. Citizen referenda and initiatives are additional processes linked with the legislative branch used to approve laws. Once laws are approved, the executive branch administers and enforces the laws. The judicial branch interprets the laws through the court system.
In the State of Michigan , a legislative policy with potentially far-ranging effects on the food system has been introduced that would change the competitive bidding threshold for food purchased by schools, which would enable school districts to purchase locally produced food more easily for school lunch programs.
Woodbury County, Iowa, has an “Organics Conversion Policy” that provides property tax rebates to farmers who convert from conventional to organic farming practices.
Legislative policy also occurs at the local level. Voters in the City of Seattle approved a levy for Parks and Recreation, raising money for the creation of more than 30 new parks and the preservation of wooded green spaces.
The tribal councils of sovereign nations, such as the Tohono O’odham Nation in Arizona, also establish legislative policy. Tribal policies can determine nutritional standards, including guidelines regarding locally grown and prepared foods, for school breakfasts and lunches served on the Nation.
The executive branch administers laws enacted by the legislature and determines through written rules and regulations specifically how they will be carried out. For instance, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, in administering the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program, regulates that all farmers participating in the program shall receive annual training regarding equitable treatment of the program’s recipients. Equitable treatment includes complying with civil rights guidelines and also ensures that produce available to program recipients is of the same quality and cost as that sold to other customers.
The Housing Incentive Program is another executive branch policy, which is administered by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission of the Bay Area in California. The policy rewards local governments for improvements that support walking, biking and public transit. These include building housing near transit stops and improving pedestrian/bicycle connections around housing facilities.
There are also many administrative entities that make up the executive branch at the local level. For instance, the Sunnyvale, California, Parks and Recreation Department administers recreation services provided by the city. In its administration of these services, the department has created a policy that provides recreation services for reduced fee–or on a no-fee basis–to economically disadvantaged individuals.
There are often questions about how laws should be carried out. Even with the guidance of the legislative and executive branches, conflicts arise as to what laws really mean. The judicial branch interprets the word of the laws, and as such, can have far-reaching impact on how they are carried out. One example related to the built environment is a court case that took place in the First District Court of Appeal in Florida. The court ruled that the Florida Department of Transportation must “establish bicycle and pedestrian ways in conjunction with the construction, reconstruction or other change of any state transportation facilities.” The ruling in this case allowed the continued construction of parts of a 23-mile bike path from Boca Raton to Palm Beach. An individual cyclist, a bicycle club and the League of American Bicyclists brought this lawsuit.
There are many opportunities for change throughout the policy-making process. As stated earlier, public policy is articulated by leaders in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government and embedded in many different policy instruments. This allows for many policy points and vehicles within the three branches of government to advocate for change.
Now we will move on to a discussion of systems and systems change.
A system is a group of independent but interrelated and interacting elements–individuals, institutions and infrastructure–that form a unified whole. Our food and fitness environments are influenced by a variety of systems that impact our ability to eat healthy food and to be physically active. For instance, the school system, the transportation system, parks and recreation, and community design/land use influence the built and physical environment. All of these interdependent systems influence the presence or absence of opportunities for physical activity.
Simply put, the food system includes the &quot;who, what, where, when and why&quot; of our food as it travels from farm to fork. The individuals, institutions and infrastructure that make up the food system are involved in the interconnected steps of producing, processing, distributing, retailing, preparing and consuming food.
Another important system for consideration is the active transportation system, which consists of how people move from place to place and the choices and opportunities that are available. This system involves the physical arrangements, facilities, departments and agencies that support walking, biking, public transit and other means of active transportation.
Systems are not static entities. They are constantly changing and evolving. So what does it mean to talk about systems change? Systems change occurs when one or several elements in a system substantially change, altering both their relationship to one another and the overall structure of the system itself. In addition, change in one system can effect change in other systems.
As mentioned previously in our discussion of policy, there are a number of drivers of systems change. Policies, changes in practices and norms, and infrastructure change all impact systems and can bring about change. However, systems are largely determined by public and organizational policies. Therefore, policy change is an important driver of systems change and will help to ensure the sustainability of the changes over the long-term. As an example of this relationship, we will briefly describe a systems change that occurred in Portland, Oregon, regarding the active transportation system.
Portland’s vision for change in its active transportation system was to “make the bicycle an integral part of daily life in Portland by creating a seamless and varied bicycle network connecting all parts of the city.”
How did Portland work to bring about this change? Through a number of policy changes, including: the appointment of a Bicycle Advisory Committee by the city council, the development of a Bicycle Master Plan, capital investment and city funding for major infrastructure changes, and the development of complementary transportation options for residents. Both city buses and light rail now accommodate bicycles. In addition to the public policy changes that helped Portland achieve its vision, there were a number of organizational policies, and changes in norms and practices, that helped bring about this systems change. These changes, and this process, will be examined in-depth in a later webcast, A Food & Fitness Picture of Systems Change.
As a result of the policy and infrastructure changes made to the Active Transportation system in Portland, the city witnessed a number of positive outcomes for its residents. The city has seen a three-fold increase in bicycling and a simultaneous decrease in the bicycle injury rate since 1992. Also, 16 percent of employees use bicycles for primary or secondary transportation to/from work. Economic benefits have also followed, as a bicycling economy has grown with an increase in bicycle shops and touring companies.
Thank you for taking the time to view this webcast. We hope that it has been helpful in creating a shared understanding of policy and systems change as it relates to Food & Fitness. The next step in this process is participating in a conference call with members of other Food & Fitness collaboratives regarding this webcast and other issues related to policy and systems change. We will inform site conveners when these dates are confirmed, and we hope that you will be able to join us. Look for forthcoming in-depth presentations on systems change and advocacy.
The NE Iowa FFI is looking at creating a similar systems change in our region. Policy development will be an important and essential piece of our success. All citizens have a voice in this process. We look forward to hearing your thoughts as we continue to work toward our vision for northeast Iowa.
<ul><li>Develop a shared understanding of what we mean by “policy and systems change” </li></ul><ul><li>Demonstrate ways collaborative members can engage in policy and systems change efforts </li></ul>Objectives
What is policy? <ul><ul><li>Organizational policy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Public policy </li></ul></ul>
Organizational policy <ul><ul><li>A set of rules and understandings that govern behavior and practice within a business, nonprofit or government agency </li></ul></ul>
<ul><ul><li>A set of agreements about how government shall address societal needs and spend public funds that are: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Articulated by leaders </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>In all three branches of government </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Embedded in many different policy instruments (for example, laws and regulations) </li></ul></ul></ul>Public policy
Public Policy Examples: Legislative, Executive and Judicial
<ul><li>Legislative </li></ul><ul><li>Where laws are written </li></ul><ul><li>Executive </li></ul><ul><li>Where laws are administered and enforced </li></ul><ul><li>Judicial </li></ul><ul><li>Where laws are interpreted </li></ul>Definitions
Public: Legislative State Michigan State Law Policy to change the competitive bidding threshold for food
Public: Legislative Regional Woodbury County, Iowa Organics Conversion Policy
Public: Legislative Seattle, Washington Parks and Recreation levy Local
Public: Legialative Sovereign Nation Tribal Council School nutritional standards Tribal
Public: Executive USDA Food and Nutrition Service WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program Federal
Public: Executive Metropolitan Transportation Commission of the Bay Area, California Housing Incentive Program Regional
Public: Executive Sunnyvale, California Parks and Recreation Department Sliding scale fees policy Local
Public: Judicial Florida First District Court of Appeal State Court ruling regarding the establishment of bicycle and pedestrian paths
<ul><li>A group of independent but interrelated and interacting elements – individuals, institutions and infrastructure – that form a unified whole </li></ul>What is a system?
<ul><li>The who, what, where, when and why of our food as it travels from farm to fork </li></ul>Food system
Active transportation system How people move from place to place and the choices and opportunities that are available
<ul><li>Systems change occurs when one or several elements in a system substantially change, altering their relationship to one another and the overall structure of the system itself </li></ul>What is systems change?
<ul><ul><li>Systems are largely determined by public and organizational policies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Policy change is an important driver of systems change </li></ul></ul>What is the relationship between policy and systems change?
Portland’s vision to change the active transportation system Make the bicycle an integral part of daily life in Portland by creating a seamless and varied bicycle network connecting all parts of the city
<ul><ul><li>Appointment of a Bicycle Advisory Committee </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bicycle Master Plan </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Capital investment and city funding </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Complementary transportation options </li></ul></ul>Public policy changes that helped Portland achieve it’s vision
Systems change outcomes <ul><li>Three-fold increase in bicycling </li></ul><ul><li>Decrease in the bicycle injury rate </li></ul><ul><li>16% of employees use bicycles for primary or secondary transportation to/from work </li></ul>
<ul><li>Cross-site discussions regarding Policy and Systems Change </li></ul><ul><li>Future Presentations: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A Food & Fitness Picture of Systems Change </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Advocacy for Policy Change </li></ul></ul>Next Steps
Northeast Iowa is a unique place where all residents and guests experience, celebrate and promote healthy locally grown food with abundant opportunities for physical activity and play EVERY DAY. Healthier people make stronger families and vibrant communities.