Giving Compass' Take:

• In this FoodTank story, Teresa O'Connor talks with Mondi Mason and other food policy experts about the obstacles to and importance of improving healthy food access.

• What role could philanthropy play in discovering better food policy? What partnerships could facilitate this goal? Where should researchers begin?

• To learn about the need for a sustainable food system in Europe, click here.

Research can illuminate and shine the light on food policy priorities for communities, policymakers, and cities. When I’m talking to policymakers in the City Council or Denver mayor’s office, some of the first questions are, ‘Who else is doing this? What do we know about this issue?’

That’s where research comes in handy. We can demonstrate there is evidence-based information by examining what other cities around the nation and world are doing. If we can demonstrate there have been changes or economic impacts, that’s what policymakers want to know right away.

We work with community members, food-focused organizations, and the Sustainable Food Policy Council in Denver, which is a mayoral commission to advise on food policy issues. We’re partnering to continually inform what Denver needs and what people in the neighborhoods really want. That provides some comfort to policymakers because they don’t want to adopt a policy and then have pushback or negative press. Research is a critical piece of the picture and helps to lay the groundwork for the next steps.

When we adopt the policy, we want to continue the research and evaluation of that policy. How did it increase food access? From a public health standpoint, we want to know about population-level health impacts. Does it help to reduce chronic health issues in our residents?

Read the full article about food policy by Teresa O'Connor at Food Tank.