Mid-South Regional Food System

Memphis-Shelby County Office of Sustainability and East Arkansas Planning and Development District (EAPDD) conducted a tri-state regional food system assessment aimed at improving healthy food access and the local food economy over the next 20 years.

The plan was initiated in January 2015 as an outcome of two independent three-year U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grants. Both regional plans – reNew East Arkansas and the Mid-South Regional Greenprint – identified the bolstering of local food systems as core to increasing regional sustainability and livability.  

The resulting regional food plan linked below prioritizes critical strategies to support food business growth, improve healthy food access, and promote environmental sustainability throughout the Mid-South region. The analysis and recommendations within this report have been vetted extensively with stakeholders throughout the region, including industry members at all parts of the food value chain.

The plan defines regional strategies spanning 15 counties across Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi and recommends focus of regional investment on the highest priority food business growth, access, and sustainability strategies.  Today, local produce, meats, and poultry account for a small fraction of the Mid-South’s food system activity.  The Mid-South region’s relatively low concentration of small farms challenges local produce or specialty crop strategies. However, the plan builds how ongoing enabling activity focusing on supporting produce farmers and low income consumers.

In 2035, the plan envisions a Mid-South Region where: specialty crops, livestock, and local food processing offer family-sustaining income for our residents; fresh and healthfully preserved local produce is accessible to, and chosen by, individuals at all income levels; and waste is recovered for productive reuse throughout our food system. 

The final document can be seen here:  Mid-South Regional Food System

PDF icon Press Release-Food Systems 7-7-15.pdf427.75 KB