Structure and Governance


The Council is comprised of a Steering Committee, Working Groups, and Members.  The Steering Committee is comprised of a minimum of ten individuals/organizations that meet monthly to communicate, educate, and collaborate on work happening within working groups, issues that arise in the community, and to guide current and future work.  This body will not be one with executive power, but will be a group that is committed to guiding the work.  Functions of the Steering Committee include:

  • Educating each other, the community, and the City on the issues pertinent to this group.
  • Ensuring communication amongst Working Groups.
  • Ensuring forward movement of the goals and work of the Council.
  • Sharing information on funding opportunities that could forward the work of the council.

Currently, the Steering Committee is a self-selected group that is able to actively participate in the meetings and work of the Steering Committee.  In order to remain in good standing on the Steering Committee, an organization/individual must attend 80% of the scheduled meetings.  After the first year (2012), the council will reassess the structure of the Steering Committee to determine if revisions to its role and function are needed.

The Steering Committee will be headed by co-chairs.  In honor of the good work that has been done and the relationships that have been built by the Advisory Food Policy Council, and to ease the council through this transition period, the Steering Committee will be co-chaired by Jean McMurray and Dennis Irish, the co-chairs of the Advisory Food Policy Council.  After one year the Council will reassess this and determine how best to proceed.

Working Groups will be comprised of community, agency, City, business, or organization representatives that come together to work on a specific project or issues.  These groups may be short term or long term and may meet as frequently as the group sees fit.  Each working group must choose a coordinator from amongst its members so as to ensure communication within the group as well as between the Working Group and the Steering Committee.  While a Working Group is functioning, the Coordinator must attend Steering Committee meetings or otherwise communicate with the Steering Committee.

Decision Making

The Steering Committee, Working Groups and Council will operate by consensus.  If a person/organization is absent when a decision is being made their absence will be categorized as abstaining unless they communicate their position before the meeting.  All decision-making items will be communicated in agendas that will be sent out before a meeting takes place.  We encourage people to see the Council as a place for collaboration, not competition, and we hope that we can always operate by consensus and work effectively.  We encourage all people to think of both who is present and who is not present when a decision is being made and take that into account.  In the case that consensus is unable to be reached after many efforts, and when a decision is needed, a simple majority vote will be used.   The decision-making process will be facilitated by the co-chairs in conjunction with the council coordinator.


All agencies, organizations, businesses, institutions, and individuals are invited to be part of the Council.  We ask that people choose one of three levels of participation (which can be modified over time).

Steering Committee Member, “Lead Partner”:  A lead partner will be one that is interested in serving on the Steering Committee and feels that he/she/they can commit sufficient time/staff resources to participate in regularly scheduled Steering Committee meetings.   As stated above, an organization or individual must attend a minimum of 80% of Steering Committee meetings in order to remain in good standing as part of the Steering Committee.

Working Group Member, “Supporting Partner”:  A supporting partner is one that would like to actively participate at the Working Group level, but would prefer to not engage at the Steering Committee level.

General Member, “Endorsing Partner”:  An endorsing partner is one that will attend quarterly meetings of the Council, be part of the email listserve and supports the purpose and goals of the Council.

The Council recognizes that in order to be effective in this work we must be inclusive at all levels.  We will actively seek to diversify the leadership and participation of the council so that it is representative of the Worcester community.


The Council will actively seek to maintain a paid coordinator position.  We recognize that sufficient staffing is crucial to the organization and function of the council.  The Steering Committee will work together to seek outside funding or develop an internal funding model to support this position.


The Council will primarily seek funds for operations of the Council or for actions that would benefit all members of the council (such as research that will lead to policy action).  We encourage Council members to collaborate on grants and projects.  The Council may endorse applications for grant funding, and there may be times where the Council endorses more than one application for the same funding.  This will be determined on a case by case basis.