Tuesday, May 11, 2010

US Government Wants MORE LOCAL FOOD!

Michelle Obama and Elmo of Sesame Street, May 2009 (c) 2009 Sesame Workshop. All Rights Reserved. Photo Credit: Richard Termine
Thanks to a heads up by Eddie Gehman Kohan and the blog OBAMA FOODORAMA, this morning I tuned in to the live press conference with Michelle Obama and many top brass from the President's Cabinet on "Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity Within A Generation".

A virtual who's who of federal government collaborated with their staff over the past 90 days to develop 70 recommendations in a 100-page report and measurable (and meaningful) benchmarks to help prevent childhood obesity in the next 20 years. A dozen of those recommendations strongly support local farms, urban and community supported agriculture, procurement of local food for schools, even vegetable gardening at juvenile detention centers!!!!

Obama's Cabinet clearly understands the importance of reconnecting children and the parents with their food as a means for not only combating obesity but also for life long education, good health, food access and social justice for all income levels, fostering community, and driving the engine of small business and local farms.

Here's who joined First Lady Obama:
  • Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
  • Education Secretary Arne Duncan
  • Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan
  • Office of Health Reform Director Nancy-Ann DeParle
  • Small Business Administrator Karen G. Mills
  • Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz
  • Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan
I listened attentively and literally jumped out of my seat and waved my arms when Shaun Donovan, Housing Secretary and Manhattanite, waxed poetic about the critical role of locally grown food to HUD's mission and when designing or improving urban housing developments:
"there's an opportunity for growing fresh food in urban neighborhoods"...
"there's an opportunity for urban farming"...
"for food systems planning"...
"connecting neighborhood residents to surrounding area farmers"...
"there's opportunity to grow food in housing developments" ...
"more farmers markets"...
"we need to make more urban land available for growers"....
Here's a link to the report and comprehensive summary of the local food recommendations. This lighthearted locavore is smiling....
  • USDA should work through its “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative and Farm to School Tactical Team to identify and eliminate regulatory barriers to local procurement, assist schools in accessing local markets, and enable food producers to effectively serve their local schools
  • Where possible, use school gardens to educate students about healthy eating. School gardens offer opportunities for fun and physical activity while also serving as an important educational tool to help students understand how healthful food is produced
  • Promote healthy behaviors in juvenile correctional and related facilities...Related programs such as organic fruit and vegetable gardening, farming, and culinary arts initiatives...
  • Direct-to-consumer marketing outlets provide another path to increase healthy food access in under- served areas and stimulate economic development in rural communities across America These opportunities, including farmers’ markets, farm stands, and community supported agriculture enterprises
  • Interventions may also include helping improve supply chains to bring fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods from rural agricultural areas to urban stores and markets
  • Leverage existing programs: USDA’s Farmers’ Market Promotion Program, Specialty Crop Block Grants, Community Food Projects, Community Facilities Program, Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program, Healthy Urban Food Enterprise Development Center, and Sustainable Communities Regional Planning grants;
    HHS’ Community Economic Development Program; and the U S Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant and Choice Neighborhood initiative
  • Many communities have had an opportunity to promote access to fresh foods and urban agriculture as a
    component of their land-use and food system planning processes. Across the country, projects are helping
    to create, enable, and fund community garden and urban agriculture programs, and developing zoning
    and permitting processes friendly to urban agriculture and healthy food access
  • Food distributors should be encouraged to explore ways to use their existing distribution chains and systems to bring fresh and healthy foods into underserved communities... USDA, as part of its Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, can also play a role in developing food hub distribution centers to increase opportunities for regional distribution
  • Encourage communities to promote efforts to provide fruits and vegetables in a variety of settings and encourage the establishment and use of direct–to-consumer marketing outlets such as farmers’ markets and community supported agriculture subscriptions
  • Use land use policies to promote, expand, and protect potential sites for community gardens and farmers’ markets such as vacant city-owned land or unused parking lots
  • Encourage the establishment of regional, city, or county food policy councils to enhance comprehensive food system policy that improve health. This unique form of civic engagement assembles diverse (i.e. local) food system stakeholders to develop food and agriculture policy recommendations
  • Provide economic incentives to increase production of healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, as well as create greater access to local and healthy food for consumers. The upcoming reauthorization of programs governed by the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 provides another opportunity to strengthen Federal farm and food policy to help meet the needs of all Americans

1 comment:

Pete Russell said...

Great blog. I have posted an intro to ooooby.org and linked it back to your site. In arms. Pete