Right now is a unique opportunity to impress upon our elected officials the way we feel about the future of our food system.
The City of Spokane is developing a Sustainability Action Plan intended to guide city programs and priorities for at least the next ten years. Both the city and the county are developing priorities for spending nearly $200 million of new federal dollars, part of the American Rescue Plan in the coming months. Some of that could be spent on our food system. The Spokane Food Policy Council is finalizing its draft Regional Food Action Plan and has been called upon in the draft Sustainability Action Plan, if adopted, to partner with the city in developing and implementing a Regional Food Plan.
The City, the County and the Food Policy Council need to hear from you. If you believe we are at a crossroads when it comes to supporting our regional food system, tell your decision makers why that is.
The City's draft Sustainability Action Plan needs to be approved by the City Administration, and that is not a given. The Mayor and city officials need to hear strong support from their constituents for the plan.
You can read the plan HERE,
There's a quick survey that the SAS is conducting on the draft Sustainability Action Plan HERE. This is where you can express support for the plan. There are a couple of slots for additional comments and you may insert the fruits of your writing assignment (below) into those slots so that your thoughts are sure to be heard. If you have any additional comments or questions about the draft plan, contact Kara Odegard, City Council Manager of Sustainability Initiatives at firstname.lastname@example.org. HERE is a brief powerpoint presentation highlighting parts of the draft Sustainability Action Plan that relate to the food system.
Writing assignment: The Biden Administration has recognized that part of the post-pandemic rebuilding effort has to be a revitalization of regional food systems and is committing resources to support small and medium-sized farmers, ranchers and food processors. With a boost of funding to upgrade food system infrastructure combined with increased access to technical support services and capital, regional producers will be able to more independently fulfill the dietary needs of future generations of people in our region. The USDA is the recipient of a large portion of new federal recovery dollars and is seeking proposals from around the country on how to spend that money or is seeking applicants for its expanded programs such as those serving beginning farmers.
Imagine you're face to face with a local decision maker like the mayor, a City Council member or County Commissioner. Imagine you have this one chance. In 600 words or less, please compose a statement about how you feel about your food system. What changes would you like to see? If there were significant funds available now, where in the food system would you encourage your decision maker to direct resources and why? Please don't feel like you need to be an expert or anything. We all eat. We all have a stake.
When you have composed your piece, please use the form below to input your statement, along with your name. This will become part of a new section of the Spokane Farmland Preservation Working group website where allocation of new food system dollars will be the focus.
It's a lot to think about. Here are some ideas in case they help to inspire you.
- Local Food to Food Banks,
- Food System Equity,
- Funding for Agricultural Conservation Easements,
- Institutional Purchasing of local foods,
- Incentive programs for low-income people to shop at Farmers Markets, Farmstands, Food Hubs,
- Matching Funds programs for SNAP & WIC,
- Cold, dry, frozen storage facilities,
- Refrigerated transportation fleet for local food distribution,
- More local Processing/Manufacturing Facilities,
- Shared Kitchen Infrastructure,
- Training programs for food system workers,
- Sustainable food systems and urban agriculture education,
- Resources to create more small and medium scale livestock processing capacity,
- Develop local livestock producers direct-to-consumer marketing programs,
- City/County local food production support and promotion campaign,
- Assist beginning producers to access productive land,
- Update local Comprehensive Plans to strengthen farmland preservation policies and revitalize the local food system,
- Establish a County-level farmland preservation program,
- Create County-level Agriculture Commission,
- Reduce barriers to entry-level food service entrepreneurship programs like cottage food and micro-enterprise home kitchens,
- Develop urban agriculture potential,
- Residential and business composting programs,
- Reduce edible food waste and other organics through repurposing or composting...
- What's missing?