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Community Food Systems

Community food systems are the interconnected mechanisms that support the production, processing, transport, and consumption of food for all Hoosiers. The DNPA centers community and state level food systems development as a critical component of our work to holistically increase community nutrition security in Indiana. Strengthening these systems will result in more equitable food access, improved health outcomes, and local/regional economic development opportunities. To impact diverse stakeholders around the state, the DNPA is involved in several initiatives to strengthen community food systems.

What is a food system?

The food system is a complex web of activities involving the production, processing, transport, and consumption of food (University of Oxford definition). Issues concerning the food system include the governance and economics of food production, its sustainability, the degree to which we waste food, how food production affects the natural environment and the impact of food on individual and population health.

What is a community food system?

Defined in several ways, a community food system is most generally defined as a system in which sustainable food production, processing, distribution, and consumption are integrated to enhance the environmental, economic, and social and nutrition health of a particular place (Partnerships in Education and Research).

Focusing on the development of community food systems creates the potential for farmers to receive a larger portion of the food dollar, for consumers to become more connected to the food they buy and eat, and to strengthen communities economically and socially (Partnerships in Education and Research). Community food systems can be designated as a county, group of counties, region of the state, or even a region that crosses state borders- the important aspect is that the residents consider themselves a community and identify with it.

Farmers Markets

DNPA works with community stakeholders across the state to increase access to farmers markets, particularly for limited resource audiences. To that end, our division works with market managers to increase the number of farmers markets statewide that accept SNAP, WIC, and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program benefits. For help or questions in this area please visit the resources below or contact the Community Food Systems Coordinator.

Resource for Accepting Federal Nutrition Programs (SNAP/WIC/SFMNP) at Farmers Markets

Healthcare Partnerships

As part of the DNPA’s commitment to preventative care and increased food access, we partner with healthcare organizations and fund innovative projects through healthcare foundations. Some examples of innovative, healthcare-based projects include, but are not limited to, Produce Rx, mobile markets and pantries, on-site farmers markets with SNAP acceptance..

Resources for Healthcare Projects

Regional Food Systems Partnership Grant (RFSP)

The Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity (DNPA) is a proud partner in the Indiana Regional Food Systems Partnership Grant that was awarded to Indiana through the Northwest Indiana Food Council, focusing on strengthening local food systems throughout the state. The application cohort includes representatives from Indiana University, local food councils, farmers, and the Hoosier Young Farmer Coalition. While there are many projects that will occur under this grant from 2021 to 2024, the DNPA is responsible for the following two activities to strengthen Indiana’s local food systems.

Community Food Systems Workshops

Beginning in 2022, the DNPA will offer funding for two-day-long Community Food Systems Workshops per year over the 3 years of the RFSP grant project. These workshops will support project development, education, and strategic planning to build more resilient, equitable local food systems.

Community and organizational leaders, community members, and multi-sectoral stakeholders will have the opportunity to discuss and plan for improving:

  • Local food access
  • Food security
  • Nutrition equity
  • Farm viability
  • Market stream connections for producers
  • Value chain coordination, and more.

To learn more about these workshops, please contact the Community Food Systems Coordinator.

Leah’s Pantry Learning Collaboratives

Leah’s Pantry, one of the nation’s leaders for Trauma Informed Care, will be leading one learning collaborative in Indiana per year from 2022 to 2024. The learning collaboratives bring together multi-sectoral stakeholders in a geographical region to work on projects supporting the local food system through the lens of trauma informed care. Learn more about Leah’s Pantry here or contact the Community Food Systems Coordinator.


Our division provides oversight for the SNAP-Ed program in Indiana. The DNPA SNAP-Ed and Nutrition Programs Director and SNAP-Ed Coordinators work closely with Purdue Extension’s Nutrition Education Program and other organizations to implement policy, systems and environmental (PSE) strategies to increase food access in SNAP-eligible communities. Every county in Indiana is served by Purdue Extension’s Community Wellness Coordinators (CWCs), who coordinate a variety of projects and initiatives to pursue PSE change around nutrition and physical activity. For more information about these initiatives visit the SNAP-Ed page or contact our SNAP-Ed Coordinators.


Naima Gardner-Rice, SNAP-Ed and Nutrition Programs Director
(317) 234-3498
Contact for all Community Food Systems initiatives

Allie Lansman, Community Food Systems Coordinator
(317) 234-9684
Contact for Farmers Markets, Healthcare Partnerships, and Regional Food Systems Partnership Grant activities

Amy Rupp
(317) 233-7267
Contact for SNAP-Ed