Council District 8: Marqueece Harris-Dawson




Harris-Dawson-with-caption-webWhat role should the city have on the issue of food insecurity?

The City should play an active role in efforts to increase enrollment in SNAP.  The City can establish additional enrollment centers in public spaces like, libraries and parks.  The City must also work to remove the stigma associated with the SNAP program that often discourages eligible families from accessing the benefits of the program.  The City should partner with the county and state to facilitate a public education campaign that connects the SNAP program with healthy food consumption.  Additionally, the City should work to translate outreach materials and enrollment documents into a variety of languages.

How will you make farmers’ markets more accessible to low-income residents?

Farmers’ markets are an excellent outlet to purchase fresh and organic foods; but the markets often rely on the same vendors, which limits the availability of farmers’ markets.  As councilmember, I will explore ways to include urban agriculturalists in certified farmers’ markets and work with community and government partners to coordinate the use of schools, churches and hospitals for farmers’ markets.  I would also provide incentives for vendors that accept SNAP, including fee waivers for power, water and trash disposal.

How will you reduce soda consumption?

Access to water is severely restricted by the limited variety of retail stores in South LA.  The 8th Council District has seven grocery stores; but hundreds of liquor stores and fast food restaurants that sell water at higher prices than soda and sugar sweetened beverages.

First, I will work with retailers in South LA to increase the sale of water at affordable prices.  Next, I will increase the number of healthy eating options in South LA by revitalizing our commercial corridors to attract restaurants and retailers that sell healthy foods and drinking options. Finally, I will work to ensure residents have access to safe and clean drinking water at home.

How will you use City contracts to increase purchases of Good Food?

I fully support the Good Food Purchasing Pledge and I am aware of the positive impacts LAUSD’s pledge has had on the business practices of food suppliers.  Moreover, I believe the Good Food Purchasing Program will allow for more local vendors and small businesses to contract with the City.  As councilmember, I will work to expand the City’s commitment to the Good Food Purchasing program by encouraging public and private partners to sign the pledge, including anchor institutions like hospitals.

How will you increase food-growing opportunities such as community gardens and urban farms?

First, I will work with council to remove barriers for residents who grow their own food to sell the food they grow.  Next, I will work with residents and community-based organizations to identify vacant lots that are appropriate for community gardens.  Finally, I will work with private and public partners to increase public education about healthy food consumption and urban agriculture.

How will you support food system workers?

I will continue to be a vocal supporter of the $15 minimum wage campaign.   Additionally, I will work to expand food related small business opportunities in Los Angeles.  I strongly believe food system workers should have paths to careers with salaries that reflect the cost of living in the city of Los Angeles.

How will you support equitable access to healthy food for underserved communities?

As councilmember, I want to implement community-driven planning and development in my district that provides South LA residents with the same array of food options that are available in wealthier sections of the city.  One of my priorities is to revitalize our commercial corridors through nuisance abatement strategies and investment in basic services that will attract diverse businesses to our district including full service grocery stores and full service restaurants.  I will also work to connect businesses to the FreshWorks fund to support grocery store construction in our district.  Additionally, I will work with financial institutions to identify micro-lending options for smaller food retailers.

I also believe the transformation of public spaces, like parks, is critical to the safety and health of local communities.  So I will saturate our public parks with programming for families, including wellness programs and healthy cooking and urban gardening classes to encourage healthy eating practices.  Under my leadership, Community Coalition worked with community partners to establish a wellness center at Fremont High School that includes a community garden and health clinic for the entire community.  As a council member, I will work with our partners at LAUSD to advance community efforts to establish wellness centers on other school campuses.

How will you support food enterprise and entrepreneurs?

Residents in Los Angeles have legitimate concerns about safety risks created by street vendors who sell food.  Many cities have developed ways to regulate street vending in a way that supports small businesses and promotes health and safety standards that protect residents.  I intend to work with my colleagues on City Council to develop regulations that accomplish the same balance in Los Angeles.