Community Food Systems

Designing local food systemsDescription

The Community Food Systems program provides three different areas of practice: technical assistance, research, and certifications. The program began as a multi-phased, multi-year process that works in partnership with communities to develop and design their local and regional food systems. The program is designed to:

  • develop trust and coalitions
  • research and assess existing conditions and goals in the health and food system context
  • design and implement priority projects related to the coalition's mission and vision


Local Food Leader: Training in foundational practices in food systems development, including equity, leadership, food systems practices, and evaluation.

Community Food Systems: Training in the Community Food Systems process utilized at Iowa State University, including coalition development, priority project identification, design thinking, economic impact analysis, creating dynamic teams, and evaluation.

Delivery Method

Program: Collaboration with communities for the design and development of place-based food systems occurring within communities through a fee-for-service agreement.


  • Local Food Leader: One-day workshop followed by four online modules to complete certification
  • Community Food Systems: Two-day workshop followed by four online modules to complete certification

Target Audience

Community Food Systems Program: Communities or individual organizations seeking assistance in various areas of food system development; may include, but not limited to communitywide development of food systems coordination, projects within gardening and production, processing and value-added production, distribution and food hubs, public markets and retail, food waste solutions, and resource management.

Local Food Leader Certification: Individuals who are convening working groups and coalitions and seeking additional professional development opportunities for foundational practices in collective strategies for food systems development.

Community Food Systems Certification: Individuals or teams looking for additional professional development to transform communities through a design process for creative food systems development utilizing collective impact and strategic doing principles.


Program: $24,000 for the multi-year process ($8,000/year). Scopes of work for individual projects are available and vary.

Certifications: Currently there are two openings for national trainings at $1,000 for our pilot program. Final fee will be determined after the pilot program is completed.


Program: Communities agree in writing to commit to a fee for service and assist in developing a leadership coalition that represents the community.

Certifications: Communities accepted for certification agree to provide a training site, meals for participants and trainers, and a $1,000 stipend for curriculum development.

For More Information

Visit the Community Food Systems website.

Contact Information

Courtney LongCourtney Long