Food System Resources: Food Systems Definition

Information about food systems, including current endeavors connected to Virginia Tech and the New River Valley community.

A food system is the collaboration of all steps involved in food creation including, production, processing, distribution, consumption, and waste management. 

A community food system is a food system in which local farmers, community members, and consumers work together to form a more resilient and sustainable local food economy. This system works collaboratively to enhance social, economic, and environmental sustainability

Examples: Small local farmers, community gardens, food pantries, farmers' markets, etc.

If you or an organization should be part of this guide please contact us at or

Why "community" food systems?

Improve access for all community members to have a sustainable, affordable, and healthy diet. 

Support family farms that use less invasive and energy-intensive practices to utilize many local inputs. 

Generate marketing and processing operations that build a direct relationship between the producers, and potentially reduce resources used to move food between producer and consumer. 

Develop agriculture and food-based businesses, jobs, and volunteer positions that allow financial capital to be distributed more heavily in the direct community. 

Create food and agriculture opportunities that promote local production, processing, and consumption and build stronger relationships in the immediate region.

Did you know?


In 2007, the term “locavore” was added to the New Oxford American Dictionary as word of the year!National Farmers Union - When You Spend $1 Your Farmer Earns The dictionary defines a “locavore” as someone who aims to eat food produced within a 100-mile radius. 


The farming industrialization:

  • The trends in the twentieth century have been toward industrialization and centralized production that has been removing farmer control and replacing it with corporate control. 
  • This has caused the farmer’s share of the food dollar to decrease from 41% in the early 1900s to 9% by the 1990s. Farmers have lost thousands to the industrialization movement. 
  • Rural communities have been struggling socially and economically because of the large food systems and consumers are losing knowledge about where their food is coming from. 
  • In high poverty areas, community members have had a hard time reaching fresh food since the industrialization.

Definitions & Acronyms

Agribility: Oriented towards supporting farmers, farm workers, farm families with disabilities, mental health issues, etc. It also works with disability communities in VA to create accommodations for farmers, farm workers, families, and disability communities for farm work as well as access to farm products, etc.

NGO: Non-Governmental Organization

NRV: New River Valley- a region along the New River in southwest Virginia. 

LEAP: Local Environmental Agriculture Project

LWEG: Live, Work, Eat, Gather

Agriculture, Life Science, and Scholarly Communication Librarian

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Inga Haugen
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Thank you to Danielle Moore, Skylar Merkle, and Meagan Russell for putting this guide together!