Community Food System Assessments

PAS Memo — November-December 2015

By Kara Martin, Tammy Morales


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This PAS Memo article addresses the limitations of the food desert concept and provides guidance for planners on conducting a community food system assessment. Examples of assessments, resources, and a case study on Buffalo, New York, demonstrate how various communities have used this tool.


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Date Published
Nov. 1, 2015
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American Planning Association

About the Authors

Kara Martin
For fifteen years, Kara Martin, AICP, has been working on food security and access issues. As a land use planner, she specializes in the intersection food and health with the built environment through tools such as policy analysis and development, community food system assessments, and stakeholder convening. Kara has collaborated with local governments, community based organizations and businesses throughout Washington and other regions in the U.S. She often presents and lectures on the role of food systems within the planning field including American Planning Association’s national conferences and Washington APA chapter conferences. Kara was an adjunct lecturer in 2012 at the University of Washington’s Department of Urban Design and Planning in which she taught a graduate level food system planning course. Today she serves on the APA’s Food Interest Group’s Leadership Committee, Washington State Food System Roundtable, and is vice-chair to the Seattle Planning Commission. Kara received her master’s degree in urban planning from the University of Washington.

Tammy Morales