stand up for healthy communities
PROBLEM: The needs and challenges for communities have been left out of the food policy equation, hurting education, access, nutrition and the environment.
Cities and communities can be on the front lines of tackling food education, food access, nutrition and environmental challenges, but two challenges that could be economic opportunities are not being adequately addressed:
Wasted food: Roughly 40 percent of all food produced and sold in the U.S. is never eaten. Each year, 34 million tons of wasted food ends up in landfills, generating a massive amount of the potent greenhouse gas methane, and wasting billions of resources and opportunities for 42 million food-insecure Americans – including 13 million children – to access healthy, affordable food.
Wasted land: Vacant land and shuttered warehouses in cities across the country are wasting space that could help produce healthy food for the community. Urban agriculture has been proven to help revitalize urban areas, expand food access and education for communities, provide jobs, create green spaces and wildlife habitats, and expand local and regional food systems. However, federal agricultural support programs like research, financing, and extension services are currently not tailored to needs of urban farmers and are, in some cases, unavailable to them by law.
SOLUTION: Invest in healthy communities.
Food and farm policy should better invest in healthy communities to turn challenges into economic opportunities.
We need policies that reduce the barriers to donation and food recovery that communities, farmers, and businesses currently face, and we need programs that encourage investments in solutions to prevent waste and recycle unused food. If American households, food producers, restaurants and everyone else up and down the food chain reduced food waste, we could make a big dent in alleviating hunger and protecting the environment.
Integrating the needs of urban agriculture into food and farm policy, and reducing barriers to reclaim wasted land or regenerate contaminated soil, would open opportunities to revitalize local economies and environmental health. Policies should give urban farmers access to expanded loan opportunities, the support of extension services, farmers markets, and research and data collection on urban agriculture.