Common Food Terms

  1. Food access– means the ability of an individual or a family to consistently obtain affordable, nutritious foods equitably across geography and income level.
  2. Food assets– means any resource or capacity, whether physical or skill-based, in the growth, production, processing, distribution, disposal, or repurposing of food.
  3. Food desert– means an area where more than 50% of the population is at or below 185% of the average median income level and where an individual cannot obtain a wide selection of fresh produce and other nutritious foods within a 1/2 mile of the individual’s residence. Though still in use by some non-profits and federal agencies, this term is not used by the DC Food Policy Council, as it can be seen as stigmatizing by some communities (see Low Food Access Areas).
  4. Food insecurity– means an individual or household that lacks the geographic proximity or financial resources to consistently access sufficient fresh, healthy food. The DC Food Policy Council defines food insecurity as living in a Low Food Access Area and having a household income below 185% of the federal poverty line.
  5. Food procurement– means the purchasing of or contracting for large volumes of food either directly from farms or from vendors by large entities, either public or private, including schools, hospitals, and prisons.
  6. Local food economy– means an individual, organization, or business that maintains a presence in the District and is involved in the growth, production, processing, distribution, disposal, or repurposing of food within the District.
  7. Locally-grown– means from a grower in Delaware, the District, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, or West Virginia.
  8. Low Food Access Areas– means areas of the District in which the nearest full-service grocery store is more than a 10-minute walk (approximately .5 miles) away. The DC Food Policy Council is now using this term instead of “food desert” to refer to areas which lack sufficient access to fresh, healthy food. Poverty in these areas is measured to create the Food Policy Council’s figure for food insecurity.
  9. Urban agriculture– means the practice of growing, cultivating, processing, and distributing vegetables, fruits, grains, mushrooms, honey, herbs, nuts, seeds, and rootstock within the District.


Do you have a map of food deserts in the city?

As noted above, the DC Food Policy Council uses the term “Low Food Access Areas” in place of “food deserts.” We do maintain a map of the District’s Food Retail Environment, which shows the locations of Low Food Access Areas (and the level of poverty in those areas) as well as full-service grocery stores. This map and other data can be found on our Data and Maps page.

More information about Low Food Access Areas will be available in our forthcoming Food System Assessment.


Are your meetings open to the public?

 Yes, our meetings are open to the public. We host bi-monthly public meetings on the 1st Wednesday of every even-numbered month, as well as topical public meetings, as needed, on the off months. These meetings are from 5:30-8:00 PM, with working group meetings from 5:30-6:30 and a full council meeting from 6:30-8:00.


Do I need to RSVP for these meetings?

An Eventbrite page is created for each meeting, and you can RSVP through this page. An RSVP is not required for attendance, but you are encouraged to RSVP as this helps us greatly with attendance tracking and with ensuring we have the right number of handouts available.


How do I find out about your meetings?

Meetings are announced through all of the Food Policy Council’s social media platforms. If you sign up for our mailing list, you will receive e-mail alerts a few weeks prior to each meeting which will include location details and a link to the meeting’s Eventbrite page, where you can RSVP. This announcement will simultaneously go out on Twitter (@DCFoodPolicy) and Facebook. Meetings are also announced on Open DC, and we maintain a calendar on our website.


I’m a student and I’m interested in working on a project or interning. Where can I find more information?

For summer and year-round opportunities, students should consider applying for the District Leadership Program through DCHR.

Students can also apply through the Office of Planning’s internship program.


How old is the DC Food Policy Council?

The act which mandated the DCFPC was approved in November 2014, and our first public meeting was held in August 2016. A full timeline and background on the organization and formation of the DCFPC can be found in our first Annual Report.