All communities—regardless of socioeconomic status, geography, race, ethnicity, gender, or immigration status—have access to a food system that is fair and just.

Food access

The ability of a person or group of people to obtain healthy food, depending on factors such as physical access, seasonal availability, affordability, knowledge, or cultural attitudes.1

Food desert

An area, where residents have limited or no access to healthy, affordable, and unprocessed food, including fresh produce.1

Food environment

The overall community context associated with food, including places where food is distributed, purchased, prepared, or consumed—such as grocery stores, supermarkets, farmers markets, community gardens, food shelters, restaurants, schools, and worksites.

Food insecurity

The lack of consistent access to healthy, affordable food in adequate amounts.

Food security

Consistent access to affordable, healthy, and culturally appropriate food in adequate amounts.


According to the World Health Organization, a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being—not merely just the absence of disease or infirmity.


Collective impact

A commitment by a group of organizations from different sectors to solve a complex, systemic social problem using a common agenda, aligning their efforts, and employing common measures of success.

Food Charter (statewide)

A document developed through a broad-based public process that expresses a clear and compelling vision for how all residents will be able to obtain healthy, affordable, and safe food.

Food literacy

The ability to know the story of where one’s food comes from—farm to table and back to the soil (i.e. seed-to-table, farm-to-fork)1—and also to grow, plan, purchase, preserve, and/or prepare food for eating.

Food movement

A broad term describing individuals and groups taking initiative to ensure a resilient, safe, fair, and healthy food system for all.1

Food policy

Principles and guidelines related to production, distribution, and consumption of food.1

Food policy councils

A group of stakeholders from diverse food, agriculture, and health-related sectors who examine how the food system is operating and develop recommendations that support the development of policies and programs to improve regional, state, or local food systems.

Institutional decision-makers

Individuals belonging to an organization—particularly in the public, educational, charitable realms—who administer or have significant influence over food, agriculture, and health-related outcomes.



The collection of food from multiple growers to generate quantities compatible with wholesale food markets.


The process of dividing up and delivering food to wholesale, retail, and institutional settings.

Food system

The interconnected steps involved in planning, producing, storing, processing, transporting, marketing, retailing, preparing, and eating and disposing of food and food packages at any geographical scale.

Institutional food

Food that is prepared, and served in institutional settings like school and hospital food services. Oftentimes, food served in institutional settings is heavily processed, industrially manufactured, and prepared for a large number of consumers at one time.

Light processing

Food that has gone through minimal changes to its original form, and includes little to no additives or preservatives (e.g. rolled oats, bread flour, fresh-squeezed orange juice, cheese).

Nutrient-rich foods

Foods that provide a high-level of vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy, complete diet.

Processed food

Food that is heavily refined, nutrient poor, and calorie-dense.


Growing plants and raising animals intended for consumption, including fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, dairy products, eggs, and other food production (i.e. agriculture).

Scaling up (food)

Expanding from farmer-direct sales of small quantities of food to wholesale transactions with institutional-sized vendors.


A distinct subset of a market, society, industry, or economy, whose components share common characteristics (e.g. health sector).


A collection of parts or components that interact with one another to function as a whole.


1Some glossary terms adapted from Nourish<> with varying levels of modification