Introduction to Community Food System Indicators

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The Community Food System Indicators curated collection is available in Oregon State University Extension’s Rural Communities Explorer. The CFS Indicators span the food system, from production to consumption, and data are available at the state and county level. The CFS Indicators are a partnership among the Oregon Community Food Systems Network, the Oregon State University Center for Small Farms & Community Food Systems, and Rural Communities Explorer.

Why Community Food System Indicators?

Around the US and in Oregon, people and organizations traditionally involved with separate elements of the food system are coming together to tackle challenges related to health, environment and economy as part of the “community food systems” movement.

Bringing people and organizations together to evaluate and change aspects of the food system requires developing a common understanding of issues and shared goals. The CFS Indicators, originally developed for the Oregon Community Food Systems Network and the Meyer Memorial Trust by Matthew Buck (now OCFSN coordinator), provide an integrated dataset that supports these efforts.

What is a community food system?

The idea of a “community food system” starts with the core functions of a food system – growing, harvesting, processing, packaging, transporting, marketing, consuming and disposal – and views them with the goal of enhancing environmental, economic and social health.

Sustainable community food systems are grown through community-led collaboration and include:

  • Small- and mid-scale sustainable farms.
  • Closer ties between farmers and consumers.
  • Equitable access to an affordable, nutritious diet.
  • Food and agriculture businesses that create jobs and recirculate capital.
  • Fair working conditions for farm and food system labor.
  • Food and agriculture policy that supports all the above.

Here in Oregon, these collaborations are active at the local, regional and state levels. The Oregon Community Food Systems Network, established in 2015, is today a collaboration of more than 50 nonprofit organizations and allies — including OSU's Center for Small Farms & Community Food Systems — dedicated to strengthening local and regional food systems to deliver better economic, social, health and environmental outcomes across the state.

What’s in the Community Food Systems Indicator collection?

The 53 indicators in this collection span the food system and fall into these main categories:

  • Food access and food insecurity.
  • Farm base.
  • Market linkages.

All indicators are updated by Rural Communities Explorer as new data are available. A report on the full dataset is prepared annually by the OSU Center for Small Farms & Community Food Systems in partnership with the Oregon Community Food Systems Network.

Ready to explore the Community Food Systems Indicators?

Start here and select “Community Food Systems” under “Featured Collections.”

This short video explains how to use this collection.

Questions about the CFS Indicators?

Start here.

Or contact Shannon Caplan, Rural Communities Explorer program coordinator.

For more information

The Community Food Systems Indicators curated collection was made possible with financial support from The Ford Family Foundation.

The CFS Indicators project was originally funded by the Meyer Memorial Trust.

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