Over the past two years, National Food Day has provided food system stakeholders a valuable space to connect and raise visibility of important food issues and policies. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) invited the Los Angeles Food Policy Council to recap our Food Day 2013 festivities, with special attention to the history and early successes of our Good Food Purchasing Pledge.
On Food Day 2012, LAFPC and its network of food system stakeholders came together to recognize the City of Los Angeles and the L.A. Unified School District (LAUSD) for their leadership in adopting the Good Food Purchasing Pledge. Throughout 2013, LAFPC worked closely with city departments, the school district, and private institutions to assess and score their purchasing practices according to the GFPP guidelines and offered them technical assistance needed to achieve baseline compliance.
The purchases of large organizations such as schools, municipal departments and private companies can create ripple effects throughout the entire regional food system. The Los Angeles market is over a quarter of California’s population; leveraging the purchasing power of large institutions to serve healthy, local and sustainable food can offer enormous benefit to our region’s natural resources, food producers, and the health of schoolchildren, urban residents, institutional employees and farm and food workers.
The Good Food Purchasing Pledge (GFPP) is a commitment from food service institutions to improve our regional food system by adopting and implementing the Good Food Purchasing Guidelines, which emphasize five key values: (1) Local Economies, (2) Environmental Sustainability, (3) Valued Workforce, (4) Animal Welfare, and (5) Nutrition. Produced in collaboration with the Office of Mayor Villaraigosa, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, farmers, food distributors, chefs, school food procurement experts, and labor, environmental, public health and animal welfare organizations, the GFPP is recognized as the most comprehensive and metric-based food purchasing policy in the nation. It is also the first municipal food procurement policy in the country to address labor in equal measure with nutrition, local sourcing, animal welfare and sustainability.
Food Day has been an important part of bringing attention to food system issues in the city of Los Angeles, since its inception. For Food Day 2013, LAFPC hosted an event at City Hall to celebrate progress in food policy, including the successful adoption of the GFPP by the City and LAUSD. In the one year since adopting the pledge, LAUSD has sourced around 70% of its produce locally, redirecting at least $12 million in purchases to local producers at no additional cost to the school district, and creating at least 150 new jobs. Five city council members spoke at the event, while attendees sampled delicious fare prepared by the Good Food Purchasers, featuring ingredients that reflect the policy’s guidelines. Timed for the Food Day celebration, a council resolution and two council motions were passed advancing urban agriculture.
The day’s events presented City leaders, institutional purchasers and LAFPC staff and supporters an opportunity to recognize the potential of the Good Food Purchasing Pledge to increase the quality and consumption of Good Food in Los Angeles and create system-level changes in our regional foodshed. The initial impact of GFPP, brought about through partnerships with food service institutions, suppliers and the LAFPC, represents an important milestone towards building a more equitable, healthy and resilient food system that benefits all.