The Thurston Food System Council merged with Thurston Thrives Food Action Team, and Thurston Asset Building Coalition Food Hub early in 2016, in order to streamline and align efforts around common interests relating to food. To reflect these changes as well as the addition of neighboring counties and a broader approach to food systems, we changed our name to the South Sound Food System Network (SSFSN).

The South Sound Food System Network meets the first Wednesday from 9:30-11:30AM at the Thurston County Public Health and Social Services Department.  You are invited to join us!


Our mission is to grow a vibrant local food economy, ensure broad access to healthy foods, and steward the environment in the South Sound.


A thriving food system where everyone in our community enjoys and values food that is healthy, nourishing, local, affordable, culturally appropriate, sustainably produced and wisely managed.

Our Methods
  • We collaborate with SSFSN partners to integrate food security, economic development, and environmental stewardship goals.
  • We educate South Sound residents about food system related health disparities, food security, small and mid-scale ag, economic development and environmental stewardship and empower them to engage them in work related to our mission.
  • We establish a shared vision for the food system. Members of the SSFSN use this vision to educate, advocate and/or influence policy and decision-makers concerning food system related health disparities, food security, food sovereignty, small and mid-scale ag, economic development and environmental stewardship in the South Sound.
Key Relationships

The South Sound Food System Network is an amalgam of three coalitions that formed to promote slightly different causes within the food system, but that, when combined, can develop the most effective mutually beneficial collaborative yet.

  • Thurston Asset Building Coalition’s Food Hub – The Thurston Asset Building Coalition (ABC) is a network of nonprofits, businesses, government agencies, community groups, coalitions, and individuals who connect partners and community resources. ABC seeks to encourage collaboration; address food insecurity; strengthen our local food economy; advance health priorities; and, influence a vital policy agenda among food system partners and others in ways that strengthen a path to prosperity for people with limited incomes.
  • Thurston Thrives’ Food Action Team – Thurston Thrives is a county-wide initiative designed to engage the entire community in improving public health and safety. This effort takes a systems approach to identifying priority health outcomes and implementing cross-sector strategies to achieve these targets. The Food Action Team is one of eight teams that have been developed to align with the World Health Organization’s Social Determinants of Health model and has a core focus the food system’s impacts on human health.
  • Sustainable Thurston – Thurston Regional Planning Council’s Sustainable Thurston project started in 2011. Online and in person, thousands of engaged residents helped the Sustainable Thurston Task Force craft a regional vision of sustainable development that encompasses land use, housing, energy, transportation, food, health, and other interconnected issues. This community conversation identified a vision for a vibrant, healthy, and resilient future, as well as the actions and responsibilities to achieve it. The Thurston Food System Council was one aspect of this vision.
  • Thurston Food System Council – The Thurston Food System Council was established in 2012 as a key outcome of the 2011 South Sound Food Summit, in which community members and organizations connected for two days using the Whole Measures framework to deepen our understanding of the local food system and to begin developing some grassroots strategies for improving our local foodshed. The Council was historically interested in the triple bottom line of the food system and its impacts on people, profit and the economy. The Thurston Food System Council has been fully absorbed into the identity and operations of the South Sound Food System Network and no longer maintains any differentiation from the SSFN beyond its history statement.

Operating Norms

The South Sound Food System Network is inclusive. The South Sound Food System Network is a voluntary coalition of organizations and individuals. No formal application for membership is required. The network encourages broad community engagement and the participation of organizations and individuals to better connect diverse perspectives and sectors within the food system.

1. Expectations of Participants

The South Sound Food System Network asks participants to commit to the following:

  • Agree to the charter;
  • Participate in network meetings actively and consistently;
  • Engage in the network’s work through participation in mutually supportive actions;
  • Engage in shared leadership.

2. Decision Making

The South Sound Food System Network strives to make decision by consensus. Consensus-based decision making is in keeping with the inclusive nature of the network, which relies on the voluntary, aligned actions of independent participants in order to meet its mission. Consensus is defined as participants being able to “live with and support” the proposed decision or action. Decisions made by the group can be revisited with the consent of the group.

Should the network be unable to achieve consensus, the group commits to exploring why participants are unable to support the proposed decision. Only as a last resort will the group resort to majority-minority voting in order to be able to move forward. Support by a simple majority of participants present at a council meeting is required to pass a vote. Making decisions by majority-minority voting will be the exception rather than the rule.

3. Leadership

The South Sound Food System Network practices shared leadership. The network is led by two Co-Chairs, a Secretary and a Treasurer. Following nominations by the participants, the Co-Chairs, Secretary and Treasurer are elected by the participants for a term of one year at the December council meeting; the terms begin in January. Terms are renewable. Ideally, the terms of the Co-Chairs will be staggered to allow time for the incoming Co-Chair to train with the incumbent, with the new Co-Chair taking office the following January. These four officers comprise the standing Leadership Working Issue Team (see section 4 for more details on Working Issue Teams).

The main responsibilities of the Co-Chairs are to:
  • Chair network meetings;
  • Develop/approve council meeting agendas;
  • Assist with outreach and engagement of participants; and
  • Represent the network to the Thurston Thrives Coordinating Council.
The main responsibilities of the Secretary are to:
  • Take minutes at each meeting, recording all actions & decisions;
  • Manage the contact list of Network participants;
  • Ensure that agendas and minutes are posted on the Network’s website.
The main responsibilities of the Treasurer are to:
  • Serve as primary liaison with a fiscal sponsor for any funding deemed appropriate for the network rather than individual or collaborating participant organizations;
  • Develop standards for financial/grant collaboration among participants and support compliance with standards;
  • In the event of a fiscal sponsorship agreement, the Treasurer monitors financials regularly and ensures compliance with the sponsoring agency and the funder.

4. Working Issue Teams

The South Sound Food System Network may establish working issue teams to further its mission and enhance collaboration. The Network has established the following standing working issue teams (WITs): Leadership – see above, Communication – managing social media, branding, and website presence, Legislative – providing updates to participants on food system relevant legislation, and may establish additional WITs as needed and desired by participants. WITs are asked to appoint a chair so that other network participants and WITs have a point of contact to engage with each WIT. WITs can be created with approval from the participants present at any network meeting and can dissolve at any time. At least one active participant of the South Sound Food System Network must be willing to regularly engage in a leadership role on the WIT, and other non-network-affiliated participants are welcome to serve on a WIT.

5. Frequency of Meetings

The South Sound Food System Network regularly meets the first Wednesday of each month from 9:30-11:30AM. Additional meetings may be called for by the Co-Chairs or by a request of the members. Members are encouraged to host additional formal and informal meetings to engage more stakeholders throughout the South Sound.