Asheville-Buncombe Food Policy Council moves forward

Although Asheville is often touted as “Foodtopia,” recent reports suggest the real picture of food security in our area might not be so rosy. Numerous “food deserts” do exist in our area (though City Council has worked to change that by allowing produce stands and other fresh-food vendors to operate in residential areas).

On April 24, another potential pathway to solving food security issues was brought before Asheville City Council. Asheville City Council member Gordon Smith presented a list of initiatives that the fledgling Asheville-Buncombe Food Policy Council has been working to develop.

Smith has helped spearhead the creation of the A-B FPC, a group that seeks to address food insecurity by concentrating local resources. In a town full of activists, farmers, sustainable agriculture advocates and organizations like Bountiful Cities, MANNA FoodBank, ASAP and Slow Food, some of our best resources may be human.

“By all of these organizations coming together over a common mission, we can organize our strategies so they’re going to be complimentary and we can form a comprehensive community strategy that is going to be able to get us to the goal,” says Smith. “If we have ten different goals, we could easily end up achieving none of them. By coming together to have this chief goal of food security — that is going to reduce hunger, alleviate poverty, improve public health and expand local commerce and create a more sustainable food system — by having all of those players on board, we’re more likely to get there faster.”

Some of the strategies the A-B FPC have outlined include considering our current land-use. The A-B FPC says that the city could offer more areas to grow food if more community gardens were allowed in public parks. Also, zoning policies could be reworked to encourage urban agriculture. Other initiatives include encouraging neighborhoods to have plans in place in case of food emergencies, such as scarcity during natural disasters.

It’s a wide-ranging strategy, covering a number of areas — but policies addressing food work best that way, Smith says. “Only a systemic view can lead Asheville to a more food-secure future,” he wrote in the document he presented to Council.

The A-B FPC is moving forward. “Council unanimously agreed that this is a direction that we should be going,” Smith says.

What’s next? The Sustainable Advisory Committee on Energy and the Environment, an Asheville city group that handles various environmental initiatives, will meet with the A-B FPC to help them refine their policies. After that, the agenda will return to Council with a set of more-detailed goals. Xpress will keep you posted.

“I’m gratified to have so many community members on board with this,” Smith says. “It’s their commitment and dedication that’s making it happen.”

Want to learn more? Visit


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

8 thoughts on “Asheville-Buncombe Food Policy Council moves forward

  1. tatuaje

    So awesome to see our local government taking a pro-active stance on an issue that is so important to our community.

    But I have to say I’m worried that the future of the Republican Party in Buncombe Co. finds food insecurity such a laughing matter.

    From the Buncombe Co. Young Republicans Twitter feed:

    “This portion of the city council meeting is like an SNL skit of an NPR panel discussion. #foodpolicy #avlgov #avlnews”!/BuncombeYRs/status/194935858737070081

    Unfortunately, young, selfish, non-empathetic, privileged people rarely end up differently as adults.

    • Dionysis

      It seems to me to be a great idea; hopefully, rantings of the Buncombe Country Republican Peanut Gallery will not be allowed to influence something that any reasonable person can easily support.

      These characters get a lot more attention than either their numbers or their antiquated, ineffective ‘ideas’ warrant. You notice that aside from juvenile-level insults and derision, they offer NOTHING.

  2. mcates


    [You notice that aside from juvenile-level insults and derision, they offer NOTHING.]

    Just recently a Young Republican attended the General Council meeting of the AB Food Policy. If you let me know who you are, then I can introduce the 2 of you at the next meeting? Hope to see you there.

    Also, I wonder if I should inform the YR of your opinion, so that they can stop helping with the new AB Food Policy website.

  3. Dionysis

    “Just recently a Young Republican attended the General Council meeting of the AB Food Policy. If you let me know who you are, then I can introduce the 2 of you at the next meeting?”

    If they were there in a serious manner to actually help do something about the problem, then good on ’em.

    “I wonder if I should inform the YR of your opinion, so that they can stop helping with the new AB Food Policy website.”

    Again, if they are actually helping and not deriding, then I commend them. As far as informing young Republicans of my opinion, I have no doubt that the only thing local Republicans (of any age) have any interest in knowing about me will be my obituary.

  4. Groceries Could Be Priority-Lower than Fancy Sneakers
    by Leslee Kulba

    Asheville has food deserts where people who are low-income find themselves food-insecure. To assist, city council gave a vague go-ahead to staff and the city

    • bill smith

      Interesting. Can you cite some examples of these previous failures you mention?

      Because your post just comes across like someone who knows nothing about the subject but has a pre-determined opinion on it.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.