On Monday, April 29, the City Council unanimously adopted Seattle’s first formal Food Action Plan. The goal of the Plan is to increase access to healthy food, support local food production and strengthen the local economy.
The Plan builds on my Local Food Action Initiative (LFAI), adopted by the Council in 2008 in response to the growing public interest in local, healthy food. Numerous steps have been taken to implement the initiative in the last several years, including providing more stability for Farmers Markets, expanding the City’s community garden (p-patch) program, increasing the City’s commitment to improve nutrition and reduce hunger, and creating land use code amendments for urban farming that make it legal to grow and sell produce and products. The LFAI has been widely publicized and used a model around the country, and the National League of Cities is now promoting the adoption of local food policies as part of its sustainability initiatives.
Our work on local food has now gone beyond the LFAI, with the creation of the Regional Food Policy Council, which I Chair, and with creation of a new a position in the Office of Sustainability and Environment to coordinate our food work. In recognition of the need for a more formal and coordinated strategic approach, the Council first commissioned a consultant to draft a food policy, and then worked with the Mayor’s office to move this draft through a community consultation process and create a formal plan.
The core elements of the Food Action Plan are to:
- Create and sustain strong interdepartmental and intergovernmental coordination on food issues.
- Enhance partnerships with the public and private sectors and community-based organizations in the City and across the region.
- Stimulate collaboration among community organizations, institutions, neighborhoods, and governments.
- Focus on racial and social equity and support the communities most at-risk for food insecurity and diet-related disease.
- Increase inclusive communication and engagement opportunities for the public.
- Use data to assess conditions, inform priorities, and track progress.
The Plan has four key goals, with a series of strategies under each.
Goal 1 is to foster Healthy Food for All. Strategies include:
- Promote the location of healthy food access points that can be reached by walking, biking, or transit by all residents.
- Use the City’s purchasing and contracting power to support healthy, local, sustainably produced food.
- Support programs, policies, and projects that help get more healthy food to children and youth.
- Increase affordability of healthy, local food for low-income Seattle residents.
- Promote healthy food, especially in low-income communities and with youth, through education and collaborative efforts.
Goal 2 is to Grow Local to the maximum extent possible. Strategies include:
- Prioritize food production as a use of land.
- Develop and support programs to produce food on City-owned land.
- Support efforts to expand urban food production on privately owned land, including residential, commercial, and institutional properties.
- Explore opportunities to expand rooftop and building-integrated agriculture.
- Work jointly with other jurisdictions to conserve agricultural land.
Goal 3 is to use the food sector to Strengthen the Local Economy. Strategies include:
- Support businesses that grow, distribute, process, and sell local and healthy food.
- Celebrate and enhance local food as an element of Seattle’s economy and identity.
- Support farmers markets and small retailers that sell healthy and locally produced food.
Goal 4 is to Prevent Food Waste. Strategies include:
- Prevent edible food from entering waste stream.
- Increase composting of non-edible food.
Each of these strategies has a set of action items associated with it. Some highlights are:
- Expanding the Farm to Childcare program, which brings healthy food from local farmers into childcare sites, trains child care providers on nutrition and cooking and brings kids to local farms.
- Expanding the Fresh Bucks program, which increases the affordability of healthy food for low-income Seattle residents.
- Growing the successful P-Patch community gardening program, which will expand to 90 gardens throughout Seattle by the end of 2013.
- Leasing underutilized City-owned land to urban farmers, who want to expand food production in Seattle.
The Seattle Food Action Plan lays the groundwork for a just food system in Seattle. Consumers, retailers, distributors and growers all benefit. The actions in the Plan will help get healthier, local food onto the tables and into the lunchboxes of individuals, families and children.
For more information on the City’s food systems work, visit www.seattle.gov/environment/food or my website at http://www.seattle.gov/council/conlin/food_initiative/