Policies - Food System
- Urban agriculture, urban farming, or urban gardening is the practice of cultivating, processing and distributing food in or around urban areas. Establish urban agriculture as an approved land use in residential, multifamily, open space, and other zones. Example: San Francisco revised its zoning policies to identify lots which could be used for community gardens. [ii]
- Encourage residents to share surplus backyard produce with others or donate surplus backyard produce to the food bank and other non-profit organizations. [iii]
- Promote school gardens and garden-based education in parks and other public spaces. [iv] (See Healthy Schools)
- Promote strategies that protect working landscapes and waterfronts. Possible strategies include easements, reduced tax burdens, and increased access to land and infrastructure. [v]
- Support women and minority-owned food and agricultural businesses. (See Healthy Economy)
- Participate in community-supported agriculture and fishing programs by becoming host sites. Connect local producers with local residents and workers by increasing participation in Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) or Community-Supported Fishery (CSF) programs. [vi]
- Offer incentives to run a healthy mobile food business such as discounts on permit fees, reserved spots at preferred locations, or low-interest loans to purchase equipment for healthy mobile food businesses. Ensure mobile food businesses can accept food assistance benefits (EBT). [viii]
- Seek partnerships to establish a with local community-based organizations with staff or volunteer garden coordinator(s). With community input, complete a feasibility study to identify appropriate sites, determine the long-term capital and maintenance budget, and prepare program requirements. [x]
- Support urban agriculture by growing food on public land such as local parks. Work with the community to identify opportunity sites. Utilize agreements such as leases, licenses and permits, joint-use agreements, and other informal or formal agreements to make the sites available to community groups. [xi]
- Collaborate with other agencies and non-profits to promote and provide temporary locations for residents to share their homegrown produce with other gardeners and local food banks. [xi]
- Establish demonstration gardens, sponsor classes, and offer printed materials to encourage the establishment and expansion of kitchen, community, and school gardens, as well as edible landscapes. Provide guidance with respect to appropriate species for local climate, water conservation measures, and the use of organic or greener fertilizers and integrated pest management methods. [xii]
- Establish guidelines for food vendors to provide primarily locally sourced and minimally processed foods at City-sponsored events. [xiii]
- Develop or support coalitions of food advocates (community, government, school food, nonprofits, academics, etc.) to promote education and collaboration among local stakeholders.
- Encourage local businesses (including restaurants, grocery stores, catering businesses, and corner stores) and food-serving institutions (e.g. schools, hospitals, corporate cafeterias, and correctional facilities) to adopt Local Food Purchasing Policies or Good Food Purchasing Policies that require a percentage of food purchased to be grown locally and from small to midsize farmers.
Access to Healthy Food Retail
- Establish financial or regulatory incentives to attract and retain healthy and culturally appropriate food retail establishments (including full-service grocery stores, farmer’s markets, fruit and vegetable markets and small markets where a majority of food is healthy or minimally processed) in underserved areas. [xv]
- Work with transportation planners to include food access in transit coverage analyses; and develop safe and active transportation options around stores with healthy food.
- Direct prospective food retailers to dedicated financing sources that can support healthy food retail in underserved communities. Example: the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative.[xvi]
- Reduce the risk and costs for small stores to sell healthy foods. Supporting community groups who can encourage small stores to increase shelf space for fresh produce by documenting unmet demand, subsidizing the additional costs, and providing managers with tips to help them buy, sell, and display produce.[xvii]
- Partner with small stores to increase healthy food options. Ex: apply for grants for fridges to store low-fat dairy, fruit baskets or shelves, signage for healthy foods, etc.
- Recognize food retailers and outlets for setting goals in local food procurement.[xviii]
- Pedestrian-oriented ground floor retail should also include mention of affordable food retails stores
- Leverage new development to increase access to healthy food. Encourage developers to take a comprehensive approach to meeting community needs in negotiating Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs). This can mean ensuring the CBA includes enough funds to effectively increase access to affordable and healthy foods.
- Model Practice: One Hill Community Benefits Agreement
- For more resources on CBA’s see: Policy & Tools: Community Benefits Toolkit (Partnership for Working Families)
- Include a policy in the general plan that requires the use and acceptance of federal, state, and local food assistance programs such as Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) benefits at all retail outlets that accept ATM payments. Support this policy by establishing a program to provide technical assistance and support for accepting EBT, either through [agency/department] or a partner organization.
- Work with partner organizations to encourage retailers and eligible consumers to participate in programs which incentivize fruit and vegetable purchased at retail outlets, such as Double Up Food Bucks.
- Include language in general or specific plans to protect existing and promote new farmers’ markets. [xix]
- Create programs or partner with organizations that promote farmers’ markets, particularly in low-income communities and communities with limited access to fresh produce.
- Streamline Permitting Processes for “Mini Markets,” particularly in underserved zip codes. “Mini Markets” (also called “local produce markets”) are small farmers’ markets with five or fewer vendors who sell their own locally grown produce and flowers. Example: The City of Minneapolis instituted a streamlined permitting process for “mini markets” to increase access to fresh produce in low-income neighborhoods [xx]
- Include a policy in the general plan that requires the use and acceptance of federal, state, and local food assistance programs such as Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) benefits at all farmers’ markets. Support this policy by establish a program to provide technical assistance and support for accepting EBT, either through [agency/department] or a partner organization. [xxi]
- Work with partner organizations to encourage market operators and eligible consumers to participate in programs which incentivize fruit and vegetable purchase at farmers’ markets, such as Market Match.
- Require the inclusion of community members/local residents as decision-makers in land use policy-making to help optimize the location of farmers’ markets, for example by identifying appropriate sites (such as near a school, a town center, or public transportation, or in neighborhoods that have no fresh produce outlet). [xxii]
[ii]San Mateo County Food System Alliance, “Producing, Distributing & Consuming Healthy Local Food: Ingredients for a Sustainable Food System,” 2012, http://www.aginnovations.org/uploads/result/1431289284-3474d2b009ab96ede/SMFSA_Sustainable_Food_Brief.pdf.
[iii] San Mateo County Food System Alliance.
[iv] San Mateo County Food System Alliance.
[v] San Mateo County Food System Alliance. https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180AB465
[vi] San Mateo County Food System Alliance.
[vii] San Mateo County Food System Alliance.
[viii] San Mateo County Food System Alliance.
[ix] San Mateo County Food System Alliance.
[x] City of Half Moon Bay, “First Public Draft Recreation and Healthy Community Element.”
[xi] ChangeLab Solutions, “Dig, Eat, and Be Healthy a Guide to Growing Food on Public Property,” 2013, https://changelabsolutions.org/sites/default/files/Dig_Eat_and_Be_Happy_FINAL_20130610_0.pdf.
[xii] City of Half Moon Bay, “First Public Draft Recreation and Healthy Community Element.”