Resources

Definitions

WHAT IS POLICY?

A policy is a principle or rule which refers to the process of making important organizational/governmental/corporate decisions, including the identification of different alternatives such as programs or spending priorities, and choosing among them on the basis of the impact they will have. Policies can be understood as political, management, financial, and administrative mechanisms arranged to reach explicit goals.

WHAT IS A COUNCIL?

A council is typically an advisory, deliberative, or legislative body of people formally constituted and meeting regularly. A council cal also be a body of people elected to manage the affairs of a city, county, or other municipal district. More broadly defined, a council is a defined community of people who gather to problem solve, act and celebrate.

WHAT IS A FOOD SYSTEM?

The term “food system” is used frequently in discussions about nutrition, food, health, community economic development and agriculture. A food system includes all processes and infrastructure involved in feeding a population: growing, harvesting, processing, packaging, transporting, marketing, consumption, and disposal of food and food-related items. It also includes the inputs needed and outputs generated at each of these steps.

WHAT IS FOOD JUSTICE?

Food justice is a movement to reduce hunger by dealing with core issue such as racial and class differences. The movement also focuses on imbalances in the food system that relate to imbalances of economic and political power (Harper, Shattuck, Holt-Gimenez, Alkon, & Lambrick, 2009).

WHAT IS A FOOD POLICY COUNCIL?

A food policy council is an organization that studies the food system in its local area, then makes recommendations on how to improve that food system. Food policy councils are often driven by the goal of engaging stakeholders to ensure food systems are more sustainable and equitable.

WHY A FOOD POLICY COUNCIL IN OAKLAND?

You can find quick facts, here.

OFPC addresses the community need for an organized body to coordinate diverse perspectives on food issues that guide policy and program development for the city of Oakland. The Oakland community faces formidable and growing challenges. Twenty percent of the population lives below the federal poverty level, compared to twelve percent nationally. West and East Oakland districts have population living as high as 30 percent below the federal poverty level. Twenty-nine percent of Alameda County residents suffer from food insecurity, with an even higher percentage suffering in Oakland. Many of Oakland’s low-income neighborhoods are “food deserts,” where grocery stores and supermarkets are virtually non-existent. Residents must either shop outside their neighborhoods or rely on fast food outlets, convenience stores and liquor stores for their food needs. Food prices at these convenience stores run 30-100 percent higher than average prices in supermarkets, and fresh produce is often unavailable. As a result, obesity among children is higher in Oakland than Alameda County as a whole, and diet-related disease among Oakland’s adults is higher than in most Alameda County cities. In fact, the Alameda County Public Health Department has reported a 15 year difference in life expectancy in our low income communities from preventable diseases.

There are challenges in other parts of the food system as well. Agricultural land is being squeezed by urban development at a rate of 40,000 acres per year. A new, two-year report from the state Department of Conservation shows that between 2006 and 2008, irrigated farmland in California decreased by more than 203,000 acres. Food waste is not being recycled efficiently, in fact food waste is currently the single largest material in the Alameda County waste stream (waste that goes to landfills), representing 35% of total waste. In addition, the average U.S. food item travels over 1500 miles from farm to table. These figures represents the massive energy consumption and environmental pollution resulting from the nation’s industrialized food system, which has been subsidized with cheap oil. OFPCs four goals work toward making healthy food available and accessible to every Oakland resident; building a healthy local economy, including locally-owned food businesses paying fair wages under fair working conditions in food sector jobs; cultivating a healthy environment, including a “zero-waste” food system and ecologically sound agricultural practices; and educating citizens so they are equipped to make healthy choices about food and the food system.