The City of Baltimore is making a name for itself in the realm of food systems planning. The hallmark of its success is the work of the Baltimore Food Policy Initiative (BFPI) and its Food Policy Director, Holly Freishtat. Baltimore is one of the few places in the United States that has a full-time Food Policy Director, whose sole charge is to address food related issues in Baltimore. Baltimore’s progress in addressing its food issues is a reflection of having had a full-time Food Policy Director dedicated to working on food.
The Food Policy Director works alongside the BFPI. The BFPI is a unique collaboration between Baltimore’s Department of Planning, Office of Sustainability, Development Corporation and City Health Department. This collaboration grew out of a Food Policy Task Force that Baltimore’s mayor convened in 2008. Director Freishtat and the BFPI are charged with ensuring the implementation of the goals and recommendations developed by the Food Policy Task Force.
This unique institutional framework has resulted in a number of food systems planning milestones for the city. Baltimore amended its zoning code to allow for community gardens in all districts. Homegrown Baltimore was started to provide long term leases for city-owned vacant land to farmers. Additionally, Baltimarket provides online grocery ordering and delivery, bringing healthy food to neighborhoods with low vehicle ownership.