December 6, 2022
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Los Angeles County Food Equity Roundtable Releases Action Plan to Transform Region’s Disconnected Food System
Nearly a fourth of Los Angeles County households have experienced an instance of food insecurity in the past year
Los Angeles – Recognizing that food insecurity among Los Angeles County residents has long been at a crisis level — and has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic — the Los Angeles County Food Equity Roundtable today issued an aggressive action plan for transforming the region’s disconnected food system.
USC researchers found that nearly 1 in 4 LA County households has experienced an instance of food insecurity in the past year. That means that millions of residents have lacked reliable access to sufficient food. And the currently-increasing economic uncertainty continues to heighten the risk of food insecurity, especially for our region’s under-resourced communities. Adding to the projected deficits, our food supply is susceptible to inflation and access gaps due to a changing climate and decades of market consolidation, which has exacerbated the impact on underserved populations already struggling to afford food.
The Food Equity Roundtable is an innovative partnership funded by the Annenberg Foundation, the Weingart Foundation, and the California Community Foundation, and co-chaired with LA County.
The Roundtable has identified measures to improve food access and build a more resilient food supply throughout L.A. County. More than 200 thought leaders from the worlds of government, academia, community-based advocacy, business, and agriculture contributed to the blueprint.
The plan proposes comprehensive and concrete steps to end food and nutrition insecurity in LA County, by:
- improving the affordability of healthy foods
- increasing the equitable access to healthy foods
- building market demand and consumption of healthy food, and
- supporting sustainability and resilience in food systems and supply chains
“This action plan provides a roadmap to help ensure LA’s most vulnerable populations can access food,” said Cinny Kennard, Executive Director of the Annenberg Foundation and co-chair of the Roundtable. “As we face a potential economic slowdown, the recommendations of this coalition could not have come sooner. We must work together to bridge gaps in access, increase communication and coordination across industries, and improve our infrastructure to make food more accessible and affordable for all of our communities.”
“As a county, it’s our job to act as a safety net, particularly for our most vulnerable residents,” said LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn. “Before the pandemic, nearly one in five of our residents had experienced food insecurity. COVID drove that up to one in four. That is unacceptable, and it’s why last February, Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and I authored a motion to create the Food Equity Roundtable, which has been hard at work bringing together leaders across the county to weigh in on ways we can address this crisis. The actions outlined in the Roundtable’s plan will be critical in our fight against food insecurity.”
Food insecurity — considered a lack of consistent access to sufficient food — is about more than hunger. Chronic worry about putting food on the table is linked to overall poor nutrition, mental health challenges, and increased risk for diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Food insecurity also has a broad, debilitating social impact, from reduced productivity to diminished academic performance.
Due to systemic biases and injustices, Latino and Black households in LA County report higher rates of than White households. The plan outlines 14 priority population segments in Los Angeles County that are most vulnerable to food insecurity, from immigrant families to transgender individuals:
- The majority of LA County residents who experienced food insecurity in 2021 and 2022 were 18-40 years old, Latino, and/or low-income.
- About 4 in 10 food-insecure households include children.
- Poverty remains the number one cause of food insecurity, with some 35% of households below the federal poverty line reporting chronic struggles with putting food on the table.
The current food system also places tremendous stress on the environment, with industrial farming practices and food waste contributing to climate change, which in turn diminishes agricultural productivity, further affecting access and affordability.
The Roundtable plan identifies six key objectives to create a healthier, more equitable, and more resilient food system:
- Modernize the food system
- Build a smart and connected food system
- Adopt a dignity of service approach to remove stigma and shame associated with benefits enrollment
- Elevate food to the status and importance of medicine
- Bolster nutrition education
- Champion a whole-person approach
The goal: instituting a variety of whole-system approaches that will immediately improve food access, while also mitigating environmental
threats to the food supply and create opportunities for community connection and wealth-building. “Whole-system solutions are crucial to achieve and maintain food equity for the long term,” said Ali Frazzini, Policy Advisor for the LA County Chief Sustainability Office and co-chair of the Roundtable. “Governments all over the world are beginning to recognize the importance of food system transformation for a sustainable future, and I’m proud that LA County is leading the charge through a plan which uplifts community solutions and highlights the power of consumer demand for driving changes in the local food supply and beyond.”
Read the full report here: https://lacountyfoodequityroundtable.org/
About the Roundtable The Food Equity Roundtable is a coalition of government, philanthropic and nonprofit organizations dedicated to fostering justice by developing a comprehensive and integrated plan to resolve chronic inequities in the L.A. County food system. Its members embrace disruptive thinking, cross-sector collaboration, equity-driven recommendations, and metrics-driven accountability. The two-year pilot is funded by the Annenberg Foundation, the Weingart Foundation and the California Community Foundation. Learn more here.