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8 Facts About Food Policy Analysts

Canadians across the country are affected by food daily. On the base level it provides energy and nutrition to all those who consume it.

Though it’s more than just that. It brings communities together and provides jobs to the many employed in the sector.

Food policies are created to help build a better food system for all. They can be changed on the local, national and international levels making them relevant to all. Furthermore, they direct the public, private and non-profits sectors resulting in noticeable changes for the everyday individual.

The professional who help to shape these policies are known as policy analysts.

1. Food policy analysts examine current policies and develop new ones

A food policy analyst studies how current and proposed laws, government policies and regulations affect individuals, organizations and the community. They perform detailed research to determine the effectiveness of a policy and suggest improvements to those that already exist. A food policy analysts recommendations are based on quantitative data from a variety of sources such as studies, surveys and reports.

There are different types of policy analysts as they can specialize in areas such as education, agriculture, environment, labour, energy and regional development. Specifically, food policy analysts focus on policies surrounding our food system. Some of their focuses include but are not limited to:

  • Access to healthy food
  • Supporting local communities
  • Reducing food waste
  • Supporting locally grown agriculture

To make effective recommendations they must stay on top of emerging trends, public policy trends, activities and changes. The keep in the know with relevant associations and the community. It is key that they attend community events and adjust their recommendation based on feedback. Additionally, these professionals may prepare communication materials such as presentations and reports.

Overall, food Policy Analysts try to influence political issues and raise public awareness surrounding food systems.

2. Food policy analysts are expert researchers

Every policy recommendation begins with in-depth research. Policy analysts are required to collect and evaluate data to make informed decisions about policies. They must be able to cut through the noise and determine what information is most useful when they create policies.

Places that food policy analysts can collect information from includes:

  • Research studies
  • Analyzing legislation and regulations
  • Surveys
  • Focus groups
  • Budget documents 

Food policy analysts use of a range of research tools and methodologies. These tools can also shine a light on patterns that might not be noticed at first glance. In a hypothetical situation, a food policy analyst might conduct research and determine that houses within a certain climate and geographical region are at higher risk of being a food deserts. Therefore, they might recommend a policy which limits factors leading to the rise of food deserts. Overall policy analysts need to stay abreast of relevant current events, public opinions, and political developments.

3. Food policy analysts have master’s degrees in public policy

Most employers require food policy analysts to have a minimum of a master’s degree in the fields of public policy, economics, political science, education, agribusiness or a degree related to field they are working in. Typically, their undergraduate degrees are related to the industry they are interested in joining.

This position is typically not one that a student enters into as soon they graduate. Having working experience within their field of interest provides them with a more holistic view of the field which aids them in creating better quality recommendations.

4.  Food Policy Analysts critically assess issues and make recommendations

Many of issues that policy analysts deal with are not black and white. Two individuals could look at the same problem and have two very different ways to approach it. Policies can affect people differently so it’s up to the analyst to find a medium that benefits those who need it the most.

Food policy analysts assess current policies and recommend ways they can be improved. These recommendations must be both cost-effective and feasible within a period. Through their daily work food policy analysts improve their critical thinking skills. They use key performance indicators to monitor how well a policy is working such as tracking the number of households still relying on food banks .

5. Food Policy Analysts try to influence political issues and raise public awareness

Food policy analysts must indulge in persuasive communication styles because to get a policy passed some one needs to be convinced. These professionals know how to navigate the scene going through the right channels and getting the right people to listen to their recommendations.

They know how to change their communication styles based on who they are talking to. For some parties they might want to see convincing numbers while others would want to hear a convincing story. No matter what the communication style clear and concise messaging needs to be articulated. Communication goes both ways so the analyst must also be open to feedback, criticisms and questions in productive ways.

6. Food Policy Analysts collaborate

Policies are not created alone by the policy analyst. Instead, they require collaboration between colleagues, elected officials, specialists and the individuals the policies affect. When collaborating their overall goal is to build relationships and trust.

To create opportunities to collaborate policy analysts will organize public events, engage in public speaking and present presentations. During these times they can have conversations that allow them focus in on the needs and goals of those the policies affect.  

7. Food Policy Analysts prepare communication materials

The overall duty of a food policy analyst is to influence public policy. These professionals create a range of communication materials include reports, internal briefings, presentations, reports, documents and position papers. All these materials require different ways to present the information and it is up to the policy maker to decide what information to include.

It is essential that they think about their audience and who they will be communicating to. Questions they need to consider are:

  • What is the technical level of the receiver?
  • What is the key message of my communication?
  • Is my message backed by enough information?
  • How much time do I have to complete the message?

No matter the type of communication food policy analysts need to create clear concise messaging!

8. Food Policy Analysts are detail oriented, write well and manage projects effectively 

Being a Food Policy Analyst requires a wide range of skills. However, there are a few which are more essential than others. Important account manager skills include:

  • Detail oriented – Food policy analysts are consistently creating communication pieces (ex. reports, briefs) and it’s essential that they are error free. They demonstrate their detail orientated nature by proof-reading everything before they put it out. As well, they develop systems to manage all their data they collect for policy recommendations. 
  • Written communication – Food policy analyst have outstanding writing abilities. They write on a daily basis so it only makes sense that they have strong written abilities. As a result, they can write clearly and concisely for diverse audiences which includes translating complex language from technical materials into everyday language. 
  • Project management– Food policy analysts juggle multiple projects at once and therefore it is essential they can effectively manage projects. Projects are managed by defining the over-all scope and creating a series of smaller tasks. Additionally, they monitor and control the project performance.


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