In 2015, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis began conversations with the U.S. Department of Agriculture about how we could work together to better understand consumers' increasing interest in where their food comes from and how their food dollars can provide greater support for local food-related businesses and farmers. As a result of these conversations, we decided to partner on an effort to learn from other experts on this issue, and in turn take what we learned and develop a resource to help increase the public's awareness of it and the associated opportunities.
This publication—a compilation of research, essays and reports by community development experts around the country—is the result of that process. Through this work, we have learned that regional food systems represent a promising avenue for economic growth for both rural and urban communities through the creation of new or the enhancement of existing jobs and businesses.
We also learned that, with appropriately targeted policies and support, the attendant opportunities can advance the economic and financial security of LMI households and communities. What is especially interesting about this work is that the approaches that support the development of regional food systems not only contribute direct economic benefits to the community, but can also open the door for improved access to healthy food and other positive outcomes that could result in improved community health and a more productive workforce.
This publication is designed to highlight the prospects available in the regional food systems sector, advance efforts to provide meaningful earnings and job opportunities for LMI households and communities, and illustrate the vital partnerships needed to deploy the necessary knowledge and capital to support the sector's continued growth.