Policy Work Group


The Public Policy Work Group is a continuation of the Healthy Local Food System Working Group (HLFSWG). For the past six years, the HLFSWG, with support from Vitalyst Health Foundation, has worked to address policy issues that impact the local food system. Foreseeing potential overlap and duplication of efforts, the HLFSWG transitioned into the Coalition Policy Work Group.


The Policy Work Group meets at 1:30 on the first Tuesday of each month at Vitalyst Health Foundation, 15th Floor, 2929 North Central Avenue, Phoenix. Go to the calendar to see the most recent meeting schedule and agenda. Contact Dean Brennan or Kenneth Steel for more information about joining the Work Group.


Members of the Work Group include:

Rosanne Albright, City of Phoenix

Connie Ballard, Maricopa County Department of Public Health

Dean Brennan, Arizona Alliance for Livable Communities

Joe Drazek, Quarles & Brady LLP

Cindy Gentry, Maricopa County Department of Public Health

C.J. Eisenbarth Hager, Vitalyst Health Foundation

Dave Laney, ATC Group Services

Tina Leadbetter, Stone Hoe Gardens

David Martinez III, St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance

Jayson Matthews, Valley of the Sun United Way

Paige Mollen, The Mollen Foundation

Richard Starling, Arizona Community Land Trust

Kenneth Steel, Maricopa County Department of Public Health


  • Planned and coordinated the 2017 Arizona Food Summit (2017)
  • Development of a model lease agreement for community gardeners and farmers to identify the rights and responsibilities of property owners and food produces to reduce uncertainty regarding agricultural use of land in Maricopa County (2016)
  • Developed the Farmers Market Toolkit, a guide to starting and improving farmers markets (2016)
  • Assisted the City of Phoenix to modernize and clarify the farmers’ market fee schedule, resulting in a lower fee for small farmers’ markets (2015)
  • Assisted the City of Phoenix to modernize the community garden zoning ordinances, resulting in more clear language that encourages the proliferation of community gardens (2010)


Activity #1: Inventory of public policy impacting a healthy, local food system
Goal: Identify the current impacts of city, town and county regulations on land use, zoning, access to potable water and similar topics on the local food system.
-Survey cities, towns and the county to identify current codes, ordinances and regulations potentially impacting the food system.
-Partner with the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) to assist with conducting the policy survey of MAG member governments.
-Survey Coalition members and assess and compile a list of policy issues they encounter in their day to day work.

Activity #2: Monitor and advocate for inclusion and implementation of policies in city/town general plans and the county comprehensive plan supportive of a healthy, local food system.
Goal: Use general plans as the basis for the process of building working relationships with cities and towns, and the comprehensive plan to build a relationship with the county.
-Initiate the process with communities commencing their general plan updates, including Peoria, Buckeye, and Queen Creek.
-Monitor general plans of cities and towns and the county comprehensive plan.
-Share Work Group results with the other Coalition work groups to inform their work, including identify barriers and opportunities.
-Identify potential partners, i.e., Arizona Alliance for Livable Communities (livableaz.org).

Activity #3: Advocate for the adoption of policies that support a healthy local food system.
Goal: Influence decision-making at various levels to be supportive of a healthy local food system.
-Continue to advocate for the passage of State legislation that benefits the healthy local food system.

Questions or More Information Contact: Dean Brennan and Kenneth Steel