Community food systems indicators in Oregon: An introduction

Welcome to the Community Food System Indicators curated collection within 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 between the Oregon Community Food Systems Network, the Oregon State University Center for Small Farms & Community Food Systems, and Rural Communities Explorer.

Why Community Food Systems Indicators?

Around the U.S. 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 by Matthew Buck, 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 & agriculture businesses that create jobs & recirculate capital;
  • Fair working conditions for farm & 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 level. The Oregon Community Food Systems Network, established in 2015, is a collaboration of more than 40 nonprofit organizations and allies – including OSU Extension – 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

General Information

  • Annual Population Estimate1

Food Access and Insecurity 

  • Average Cost of a Meal
  • Estimated Percentage of Individuals who are Food Insecure
  • Farmers Markets accepting SNAP
  • Grocery Stores
  • Low Income and Low Access to a Grocery Store
  • Population per Grocery Store
  • Poverty Rate: Total Population 
  • SNAP Participation
  • Specialty Food Stores

Farm Base

  • Average Age of Farmers
  • Average Value per Farm Acre
  • Beginning Farmers and Ranchers
  • Compensation per Farm Job
  • Farm compensation
  • Farm employment
  • Farms by primary production
  • Farms harvesting vegetables, potatoes, melons
  • Farms that grow berries
  • Farms with cattles and calves sales
  • Farms with fruit and/or nut trees
  • Farms with Hogs and Pig Sales
  • Farms with Milk Cows
  • Farms with Poultry
  • Farms with Sales <$25,000
  • Farms with Sales <$25,000 - $99,999
  • Farms with Sales $100,000 - $249,000
  • Farms with Sales >$250,000
  • Farms with Sheep Sales
  • Food Crops: All
  • Food Crops: Fruits, Tree Nuts, Berries
  • Food Crops: Grains, Cereal
  • Food Crops: Vegetables, Potatoes, Melons
  • Land in Farms
  • Number of Farms
  • Organic Farms

Market Linkages

  • Community Supported Agriculture Farms
  • Farmers Markets
  • Farms that Market Direct to Retail
  • Farms that Produce Value-Added Products
  • Farms with Direct Sales
  • Farms with On-Farm Packing Facilities
  • Food Processor Employment
  • Food Processors
  • Food Processors by number of employees
  • Food Processors Payroll
  • Non-employer Food manufacturing businesses
  • Population per Farmers Market
  • School Districts Purchasing Local Food
  • Value of Direct Sales per Capita
  • Value of Direct Sales per Farms Selling Direct
  • Value of Farm Direct Sales

Indicators related to Community Capacity, which together assess if and how counties are addressing community food systems challenges and opportunities, are being tracked separately, outside RCE.

All Indicators will be updated by RCE as new data are available. A report on the full dataset will be prepared on an annual basis 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: Oregon Communities Reporter and select “Community Food Systems” under “Featured Collections.”

View a short video that explains how to use this Collection.

Questions about the CFS Indicators?

Start here: Communities Reporter How-To Guide

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.

  • 1. Updated Annually

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