Those working within Cooperative Extension organizations and community development professionals are often asked to engage in the development of local food councils. This free online course is open to all and will provide information and a basic set of skills to equip professionals with the tools they need to feel more confident leading or assisting with this work. There are 15 modules in the course, which take about 1-2 hours per module to complete. Each module contains videos, readings and online tools. There is a certificate of completion awarded for participants that complete all modules and quizzes. Earning a certificate is optional. There is no deadline for completion and the videos/course materials can be accessed at any time – including during your food council meetings. The course was designed for professionals with less than three years of experience working with food councils at the local level.

Course Topics

Topics covered in this course include:
  • What are food councils?
  • Extension’s role with local food councils
  • Community food system basics
  • Facilitation and leadership
  • Learn more about the breadth of roles that Extension and community development professionals can have in food council work
  • Conducting a community food assessment
  • Organizing and developing a food council
  • Funding for food councils
  • Evaluating your local food council work
  • Public policy and land use planning related to local food systems
  • Organizational structures for food councils
  • Creating sustainable food councils, regional and/or statewide food council networks
This free online course was supported by the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development. Course facilitators are Jodee Ellett, Local Foods Coordinator with Purdue University and Kendra Wills, Community Food Systems Educator with Michigan State University Extension.
As a companion to the online course titled Partnering4Health: Approaches to Sustaining Healthy Communities, SOPHE has developed a toolkit to provide guidance and resources for those who seek to carry out the sustainability activities described in the course. Whereas the online course provides guidance about the steps that can be taken to ensure sustainability, the toolkit provides the tools and resources that can help public health professionals and educators, community-based organizations, and community members who are passionate about improving the health of their communities to take those steps toward sustaining healthy communities.