Funded through the USDA's Agriculture, Food and Research Initiative (AFRI) grants program. Award Number: 2011-68004-30079

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Community Food Security Model

Why model the food system?

Food systems are complex and fluid. A change in one area may have an unexpected outcome in another—the relationships are often not linear. For those of us who work in this system, it is can be unclear whether our actions, or proposed actions, will truly have the impact we seek. While careful evaluation enables us to more clearly realize the impacts of past efforts, food system work would be bettered by knowledge that enables us to more fully understand the relationships between disparate parts of the food system from the outset. This knowledge would allow us to more accurately predict potential outcomes of our work before it begins.

The AFP hopes that the community food security model will be one such tool. The model is a mechanism for aggregating the knowledge that we, as a foodshed, have about how our food system functions. It lays out the connections between the different pieces of the food system in a visual way and with appropriate data, can be inputted into a computer program to simulate scenarios that may result from a given change to the system.

What is a model?

Models come in all shapes and sizes, but for our purposes, with the aid of a computer, a model represents a real-life complex system in a visual way that makes clear the relationships between the different system parts. This particular type of modeling is based on concepts of System Dynamics, as put forth by organizations like the System Dynamics Society.

Become involved

Many viewpoints, experiences, and expertise are required to create a realistic and representative model of the food system. We need your input to help a make the model as accurate as possible.

Why become involved?

What will you get in return? You will have a robust model of the food system that you can use to strengthen and further your work in the community food system as well as the efforts of your colleagues and partners.

How to become involved.

If you would like to become involved in the modeling process, please email