The success and development of a sustainable urban and regional food system hinges on the involvement of city planners and policy implementation by local government. Knowledge of where policies are supportive or unsupportive is critical for community activists, such as the Good Food Council of Lewiston Auburn (GFCLA), to direct limited resources toward effective changes. Conducting a food policy audit is one standardized approach for identifying gaps within a food system. In this report, we introduce a food policy audit tool that we adapted for use in Lewiston, Maine. We show results from conducting it in Lewiston and provide recommendations for policy change and future work. The audit tool is composed of 97 “yes” or “no” questions regarding city food policy. To answer these questions, we relied on the knowledge of city government officials and local experts. In interviews where we posed the audit tool questions, we additionally discussed related current policies and programs. We also inquired about the relative need for improving and developing new policies related to each question, and discussed potential challenges associated with implementing these changes. With the help of many invaluable resource persons, we were successful in adapting the audit tool and completing the audit within ten weeks. In examining the collected data, we found that the “yes/no” binary of the tool did not clearly identify gaps in the food system. With the objective of clarifying these results, we developed both a quantitative and qualitative classification scheme, and applied this methodology to analyze the audit tool. The quantitative classification scheme is based off of a numerical “grade” ranging between zero and one, depending on if the policy supports or inhibits the sustainability of the Lewiston food system. To further delineate our data we developed a qualitative classification scheme, applied to questions with grades below one. The qualitative
2 classification ranks the gaps on both their urgency and feasibility for change, which were largely determined via the advice of resource persons and our learned knowledge of the local food policy climate. Our quantitative grading scheme indicates that 22% of the policy enacted is currently supporting a sustainable food system in Lewiston. The remaining 78% is not, allowing for the identification of policies that are detrimental, non-existent, or existing at the federal or state level instead of at the city level. When policies exist at the state or federal level, there is opportunity to ensure food policies are meeting the specific needs of the Lewiston community. We have compiled a list of recommendations ranging from broad to specific next-steps. It is our intention that these future projects be pursued by the GFCLA in partnership with another Bates College ES capstone group and/or through collaboration with other interested individuals and organizations. Recommendations: ● Confirm audit data by referencing the literature of Lewiston policy and code. ● Conduct a literature review to examine strategies for bridging identified gaps in cities similar to Lewiston. ● Consider changing the Lewiston food sovereignty declaration to permit the sale of homegrown vegetables and other goods to friends and family. ● Considering implementing longer contracts for community farm gardens in abandoned lots, as well as “joint use” agreements for gardens between local organizations and schools.
3 ● Conduct an assessment of the feasibility of implementing compost in the Lewiston Public Schools. ● Identify local programs that are already improving the sustainability of the food system and develop a plan to increase city support through advertising campaigns that direct citizens to such existing programs and organizations. ○ Ensure these advertising campaigns reach the New Mainer community. ● Research the pros and cons of establishing agricultural preservation laws in Lewiston. ● Before embarking on advocacy for any suggested changes, conduct interviews with community members who would be impacted by a change in policy. ● Conduct a similar food policy audit in Auburn and find potential areas to collaborate between the cities to increase the sustainability of the Lewiston food system.
Kelley, Katherine; Moreau, Hadley; and Rivas, Yeymi, "Lewiston Food Policy Audit" (2018). Community Engaged Research Reports. 59.