Public Sector Memo: City Food Planning

GOAL: The goal of this document is create innovative procurement policies to build healthy neighborhoods and to support economic development.

BACKGROUND: Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the city*, yet health conditions like diabetes, pre-diabetes, stroke and overweight/obesity can be prevented and managed through diets high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-sodium foods. In order for city residents to afford healthy food, they need jobs; urban agriculture can support job creation and economic development. This organization* embraces a holistic approach to healthy food, one that includes physical well-being, cultural appropriateness, local economic development, and sustainable environmental practices. The City has the purchasing power to create demand for urban agriculture through innovative procurement policies, increasing both the supply of locally grown foods and employment opportunities in the local food economy. In 2013, the Planning Commission adopted the Urban Agriculture Plan. This plan includes the goal to support urban agriculture by purchasing local products from local and regional producers.

As an anchor institution, the City can leverage its food purchases to support food with high nutritional quality and that supports local economies and promotes equity. City-based urban agriculture increases demand for local food businesses. Social enterprises employ returning citizens and focus on serving fresh and healthy local foods. The City can strategically support minority-owned businesses with owners who are city residents and small businesses which may lack the capacity to compete with larger operations.

The City has an opportunity to provide a model of food procurement that prioritizes health and local agriculture, with the understanding that cost is one of the many important components of the process. Moving from a lowest bid to Request for Proposals (RFP) model will also help meet this goal by incorporating values in addition to price into the contract process. Existing city contracts can be optimized to reduce waste through best practices. Currently, a haphazard approach is used for ordering, resulting in excessive daily food waste. Sanitation pickup occurs daily, increasing the non-reimbursable cost to the city. Additionally, meals are served in individual packages instead of cafeteria-style. This increases the waste produced from meals. Addressing excessive food packaging waste can enhance the Mayor’s initiative to improve the cleanliness of the city.

Across the country, a “good” food movement has organized to incorporate these factors into institutional procurement. Cities like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Austin, are recognizing their ability to strategically invest in healthy and local foods for the prosperity of their communities. In the City, healthy, local food procurement policies enhance the Mayor’s existing priorities to build healthy and vibrant neighborhoods and to provide opportunities for businesses to thrive in the City.


* Names removed


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