Skip to content Skip to navigation

Food System Plan

How we produce, buy, eat, and throw away food in Douglas County impacts our economy, our health, our environment, and our local culture. Each of us has a part to play in guiding the future of our local food system. Our community has asked for a strategic Food System Plan to guide future land use and policy decisions. The Food System Plan will establish goals and policies to improve the local food and farm system.

The City of Lawrence and Douglas County Commissioners have officially adopted the Food System Plan!

Interested community members can review the approved version. The document is being finalized for printing.

The draft plan provides strategic recommendations in 5 goal areas:

  1. Agricultural producers, food entrepreneurs, and food sector workers thrive in our regional economy.
  2. As our cities grow, we prioritize natural resource conservation and maintain working lands to promote soil health.
  3. We build and design our communities to ensure healthy food access and eliminate food deserts.
  4. Our community fosters an equitable food system.
  5. Our community eliminates waste in our local food system.

Staff worked with research consultant Barb LaClair to conduct an updated Food System Assessment to inform the plan—full assessment forthcoming. Public engagement efforts to inform the plan included 13 focus groups with community organizations, a health equity initiative with Sunrise Project Community Coordinators, a Lawrence Listens survey, and 5 public forums to discuss local actions.

The Food Policy Council is in the process of identifying early priorities to move the plan forward. Stay tuned! Contact Helen Schnoes, Douglas County Food Systems Coordinator, with any questions: | 785-832-5157.

What is the local food system?

Local Food SystemLocal food systems are composed of all the interdependent steps and actors that go into producing the food that is grown and raised in a region. It also includes how residents access food and what types of food they are able to eat and feed their families. A number of external factors influence the local food system, including funding, policies, cultural traditions, climate, ecology, and education.

Hmmm…can you give me some examples of local food policy issues?

Certainly! Often, many of us don’t think about the policies that shape the local food system. A lot of big policies are decided by the state and national governments. But local government, with the City of Lawrence and Douglas County, can also play an important role.

  • Urban agriculture —In spring 2016, the City of Lawrence updated its land use code to allow for more urban agriculture activities, including beekeeping and on-site sales.
  • Community Gardens —The City of Lawrence oversees a community garden program, providing free leases to city property for community members and aspiring farmers to utilize for food production.
  • Economic development—To help spur job creation and wealth creation in Douglas County, the city and county can provide incentives and other funding to spur the creation of new food and farm businesses in the community.
  • Zoning regulations —In unincorporated areas, the County has established different districts for agriculture, business homes, and industry. These “zones” influence where different land uses and development can occur, which could create opportunities or create barriers for residents and food or farm businesses.

Who will create the food system plan?

Citizens, food and farm groups, and community members will inform and shape the Food System Plan.

The DCFPC is also teaming up with the Sunrise Project’s Community Coordinators to collect stories and input in Lawrence to inform the Food System Plan.

Subscribe to the Food System Plan Update List

For updates, sign up here!

* indicates required

Over the summer and fall of 2016, a wide range of community members shared their experiences, hopes, and challenges. The community input helped identify needs, barriers, and topics of interest to address with this plan. (This information will be included with the final plan draft.) The public engagement efforts included:

Written and in-person feedback are being accepted in the month of February, 2017.

Written public comments about this draft will be accepted until February 21, 2017. Send feedback to

In-person public comments can be shared at the Monday, February 27, 2017 Food Policy Council meeting. Visit for updated location information.

How will the Food System Plan be used?

The Food System Plan will establish goals and policies to improve the local food system, serving as a reference for leaders when making future land use and policy decisions. The plan will be incorporated into the revised Horizon 2020, the comprehensive plan for Lawrence & Douglas County.

After adoption by the City of Lawrence and Douglas County Commissions, the Food Policy Council will oversee a process to develop a list of priorities and timelines to guide the implementation of the Food System Plan.

What is the food system plan timeline?

The Food Policy Council has been conducting research since The process will begin in summer 2016, with adoption by the Planning Commission, City Commission, and County Commission likely early 2017.

**Drafting now occurring. Adoption likely spring 2017.**

Food System Plan Timeline

What is the Douglas County Food Policy Council?

The food plan will be a guide for the Douglas County Food Policy Council’s future work. Formed in 2010, the DCFPC is a body of 23 stakeholders from across the local food system, appointed by the Douglas County and City of Lawrence Commissioners. The Council exists to advise these elected officials on food-related policy issues and provide a forum for the community. The goals of the food policy council are Wellness, Equity, Economy, and Environment.

Learn more about other DCFPC efforts!

Who can I contact for more information?

If you have other questions about the Douglas County Food System Plan, how you can participate, and more, contact:

Helen Schnoes
Douglas County Food Systems Coordinator