October 25, 2022
Public Health Media
Public Health Holds Annual Food Day Summit to Advance Efforts Toward Food Justice in Los Angeles County
Leaders across sectors share strategies for equitable access to fresh, healthy food
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) today continued its push toward food equity in Los Angeles County by convening the second annual Food Day Summit, “Road to Food Justice: Learning from the Past, Navigating the Future.” This summit comes on the heels of the White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health which brought together leaders from the policy, nonprofit, government, and other sectors to discuss the roots of inequity within the food system, and exchange ideas and lessons learned on the front lines of food justice.
“Los Angeles County is committed to addressing the disparities in our communities that have only deepened as a result of the challenges we’ve faced over the last few years,” said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Board Chair Holly J. Mitchell, representing the Second Supervisorial District. “We created the Los Angeles County Food Equity Roundtable in early 2020 to implement cross-sector solutions to achieve food and nutrition security with a focus on underserved communities. Together we will build a more just, equitable food system.”
According to the 2018 Los Angeles County Health Survey:
- Among households in Los Angeles County with incomes less than 300% of the Federal Poverty Level (incomes less than $73,000 a year for a family of four), 26.8% or 516,000 households experienced food insecurity.
- Among those living in food insecure households, 67.3% were Latino, 13.9% were White, 11.9% were African American, and 6.2% were Asian.
- The prevalence of obesity (36.9%), type 2 diabetes (17%), hypertension (30.4%), high cholesterol (30.4%) and depression (23.9%) were higher among adults living in food insecure households than those living in food secure households (29.6%, 11.8%, 24.2%, 25.6% and 8.4%, respectively).
“Food justice is the belief that everyone – regardless of race, income, gender or national origin – has the right to access fresh, healthy, affordable food,” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. “Unfortunately, we know those who experience food insecurity in Los Angeles County are disproportionately low income and people of color. The lack of access to affordable healthy foods reflects a set of policies, systems, and practices, many rooted in structural racism, that perpetuate significant disadvantages for some communities. Without intentional interventions and collective action for changes in our food systems and the built environment, it will be difficult to guarantee food justice.”
Public Health implements a variety of programs that address food and nutrition security with a focus on equity, including the Market Match and Grocery Voucher programs funded by the American Rescue Plan Act. These programs focus on neighborhoods that have been historically redlined, areas of high concentrated disadvantage, communities where there is a low level of English proficiency, and communities with high CalFresh caseloads.
Speakers and panelists at the Food Day Summit included leaders from the policy, nonprofit, and government, sectors who are working to create a healthier, more just, and sustainable food system. Discussions centered around practical applications of food justice, challenges to achieving food justice, and strategies that have been successful.