Food Systems Goal 2: Develop a regional food system that provides access and security to mitigate supply chain interruptions caused by climate change

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Local food

FA 2.1: Expand market demand for local food

Growing the demand for local food is an important part of expanding the local food system into one that provides increased regional food supply chain resilience and security. The biggest impact will come from focusing first on institutions with significant purchasing power and those that demand a supply of steady, consistent and high quality of food.

Cities, school districts, hospitals and other institutions can adopt local food purchasing policies that value local economies, a safe and healthy workforce, environmental sustainability, nutrition and animal welfare.

Expanding the demand for fresh, local food can also be achieved by scaling up promotions and campaigns that support purchasing from direct-to-consumer outlets, like farmers markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs.

Equity considerations/opportunities

Programs that seek to address this goal should fully reflect the racial, ethnic, gender, cultural and economic diversity of our community in their leadership, staffing and program participation.

  • Mitigation
  • Adaptation

Scale up

FA-2.2: Scale up local food production to respond to increasing demand for local food

As demand increases for locally produced food, growers will need support to scale up food production and increased access to the market. To scale up, local food producers can access one of the many resources in the region that provides support for beginning and established farms, including technical assistance, mentorship and farmer-to-buyer matching.

To connect local food producers with mainstream grocery and institutional outlets, the local food system can make use of functions in the industrial food system, such as aggregation, processing, distribution and marketing, all of which provide economic and logistical efficiencies. There are many models for regional-scale food aggregation and distribution. Important first steps to connect food producers with a broader regional market include conducting an inventory of the capacity of existing aggregation and distribution sites as well as transportation and logistics then assessing gaps.

Once gaps are identified, growers and entrepreneurs can pool resources to further develop their capacities to meet the growth goals of local producers.

Equity considerations/opportunities

Programs that seek to address this goal should fully reflect the racial, ethnic, gender, cultural and economic diversity of our community in their leadership, staffing and program participation.

  • Mitigation
  • Adaptation

Urban agriculture

FA-2.3: Increase the number of neighborhood urban farms, gardens and orchards

Urban farms, gardens and community orchards sequester carbon and reduce food transportation costs. Urban gardens are gathering places and help build community identity and pride. They contribute to food security and public and ecological health. Larger gardens and orchards can also contribute to job creation and economic opportunities for a community.

Promoting urban agriculture opportunities with grant funding and removing barriers to urban agriculture helps to pave the way for more urban farms, gardens and orchards. In areas with existing community gardens, educational assistance about how to maintain gardens and increase their productivity can help sustain the garden’s broad set of community benefits for years to come.

Equity considerations/opportunities

Grant funding could be targeted to areas where there are few community gardens serving areas of high food insecurity, and areas where urban heat islands are more prevalent.

  • Mitigation
  • Adaptation

Update codes

FA-2.4: Facilitate updates to zoning codes, building codes and animal regulations to allow for urban agriculture

Urban agriculture — which can include farms with retail sales, community-supported agriculture programs, community garden plots, orchards and even home gardens can benefit all communities in the region. Yet in some cities, urban agriculture is not well supported by existing policies and zoning ordinances.

Urban agriculture can be tailored to the vision of residents and appropriate planning and zoning ordinances can help balance varied interests while still yielding the benefits of urban agriculture. Local governments can directly support urban agriculture by creating community garden space in parks or on other public properties and providing compost.

Equity considerations/opportunities

Climate change will cause disruptions in our food supply and increase the price we pay for food. These changing realities will impact low- and moderate-income community members the most, resulting in greater levels of food insecurity. Programs that address the economic costs of food will need to be expanded and strengthened. Geographic and transportation barriers to accessing food may be exacerbated and will need to be addressed. If our regional food production grows as a percentage of the total food we eat in the metro area (as a food source we have more direct control over), we will need to ensure that all people will be able to access that food through a variety of methods (home/community gardening, connecting producers directly to low-income consumers, urban farms and others).

  • Mitigation
  • Adaptation

Food access

FA-2.5: Expand participation in programs that increase local food access for low- and moderate-income people

In order for the benefits of local food to be realized in an equitable way, there needs to be increased access for people who may benefit from local food most. Financial access to local food is a priority as the cost of local food can be higher than mass-produced retail food.

There are several programs that make it easier for low-income families and individuals to afford fresh fruits and vegetables while supporting family farmers and local economies. Additional funding for these programs will allow them to offer more nutritional benefits to more people, supporting healthy bodies and minds and building personal resilience.

Bringing on new local food outlets as partners, such as farmers markets and grocery stores that sell local produce, can help reduce transportation-based access challenges and reduce food desert areas.

Equity considerations/opportunities

The SNAP program has high turnover and people who are new to the benefits may not be fully aware of the Double Up Food Bucks program. Outlets need to be significantly expanded, with a focus on locations serving climate-vulnerable areas and that have multimodal transportation access.

  • Mitigation
  • Adaptation