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Press Release: Food Day at City Hall Advances City of LA’s Commitment to Food Policies, Celebrates Diverse Leadership of Good Food Movement

 

 

Public recognition of outstanding “Good Food Champions” and “Good Food Purchasers” and vibrant community program call attention to key food policy issues, celebrates growth and diversity of LA’s Good Food movement

LOS ANGELES – On October 21, 2014, nearly 400 food policy advocates and community stakeholders joined the LA Food Policy Council, Councilmember Mitch O’ Farrell (Council District 13) and city leaders at City Hall to celebrate the fourth annual National Food Day, recognizing outstanding “Good Food Champions” nominated by each City Councilmember as well as several city departments and food service companies which are implementing the Good Food Purchasing Program developed by the LA Food Policy Council. A suite of food policy related motions were also advanced.

A Good Food Champion was honored from each council district as outstanding individuals or organizations embodying the spirit of bringing Good Food – food which is healthy, affordable, sustainable and fair- to their community. The Good Food Champions included community gardeners, neighborhood market owners, a health educators and a food pantry coordinator. “Gangsta Gardener,” Ron Finley, who was catapulted to fame through his TED talk about receiving a violation notice from the city for planting an “edible parkway” garden, received recognition from Council President Herb Wesson.

Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell (Council District 13) paid special recognition for the city departments implementing the city’s groundbreaking Good Food Purchasing Policy, which was adopted on Food Day in 2012. “The Good Food Purchasing Policy has put Los Angeles on the national stage as a leader in food policy innovation” said Councilmember O’Farrell. “Four city departments are now changing their procurement practices so that a percentage of the food that the City buys and serves Angelenos will be healthy, locally grown, sustainable, fair to workers and humane to animals. This will have huge ripple effects across the region for the kind of food that is grown.” Councilmember O’Farrell presented awards to the Good Food Purchasers: the Departments of Water and Power, Aging, Recreation and Parks and the Convention Center and their food service companies, the LA Unified School District, and Guckenheimer, a private food service company for Google LA and Roll Global.

LA Unified School Board member Steve Zimmer, who helped move the school district to adopt the policy, discussed a landmark partnership between the city and the school district as a result of the Good Food Purchasing Policy, “LAUSD is proud to be a leader in school food procurement because we know our children deserve healthy meals made with the best ingredients, including food that honors the environment and workers.”

Councilmember Curren Price (Council District 9) recognized South LA small business owner Nelson Garcia as his district’s “Good Food Champion” for his efforts in transforming his convenience store into a healthy food market. Working with the LA Food Policy Council, Mr. Garcia was able to incorporate healthy snacks and produce into his store. “Representing a food desert community, I understand firsthand the need to expand food options for our residents,” remarked Councilmember Curren Price, “Where once students could find nothing but chips and soda at this store, now they have tangerines, pears, yogurt, and healthy granola to choose from. Mr. Garcia has demonstrated his commitment to the health of his community.”

Earlier this month, Councilmember Price and Councilmember Felipe Fuentes introduced a motion that would create tax incentives to convert vacant properties into urban farming projects, to implement the Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones Act approved by the state Legislature last year.

City Councilmember Jose Huizar (Council District 14) also reaffirmed his support of key food polices, including street vending. “I am committed to creating a legal pathway for sidewalk food vending that supports local vending and brick and mortar entrepreneurs, offers safe and regulated food access to the public and creates incentives to increase healthy food options in our communities,” said Councilmember Huizar. “Street food vending can be a vehicle to bring more fruits and vegetables to those communities that truly need access to healthy food.”

Two other food-related policies were moved forward on Food Day by Councilmember Paul Koretz (Council District 5).  Councilmember Koretz introduced a motion requesting city departments to develop an implementation plan relative to the recently passed AB 1926, which requires organic and food waste recycling for certain businesses.  Councilmember Koretz’s previous motion with Councilmember O’Farrell to make Los Angeles” a GMO-Free growing zone” went for a full vote before City Council.  The motion passed 13 to 1.  “From the health of our seeds, to the health of our environment, Los Angeles continues to be a leader on food policy,” Koretz said.  “We will protect the ability of our urban farmers to save and share their seeds, and, at the other end of the life cycle, make sure food waste does not end up rotting in landfills and emitting greenhouse gases, when it can be recycled as energy or compost to nourish those seeds.”

Councilmember Bob Blumenfield (Council District 3) expressed the need to ensure all Angelenos have access to healthy food: “”Food deserts are in all parts of the city. We need to make sure good food is available to all.” Deputy Mayor Rick Cole, on behalf of the Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti, encouraged Food Day LA participants to continue to work toward their vision of Good Food for all Angelenos. “We need an engaged city. Your activism and vision makes that happen.”

The Los Angeles Food Policy Council coordinated an interactive, highly visual demonstration of the collective efforts of local food system organizations. Reflecting their network of over 250 organizations and 900 engaged advocates and stakeholders, the policy priorities identified by the LA Food Policy Council were: food security, food workers, health and food access, urban agriculture, farmer’s markets for all, street food vending, sustainable food and seafood, food waste and good food procurement policies.

Food Day 2014 is a national initiative, similar to Earth Day, and a movement for healthy, affordable and sustainable food.  Created by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, over 1,000 Food Day events take place in cities around the country.  Food Day is October 24 every year; activities take place throughout the week or month.

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Learn more about the Good Food Champions honored today at Food Day LA, read their bios here!

Learn more about our collective impact showcase here!