SFC's policy priorities for our 2016-2017 fiscal year include:
1. Healthy Food Access that Supports a Local Food System
Inadequate access to healthy foods has been linked to chronic disease and hunger across our community. Challenges to access healthy foods exist in both rural and urban areas. SFC supports improving healthy food access through solutions that promote local, sustainable food systems.
2. Community and School Gardens
Gardens provide a source of healthy food and habits for years to come. SFC encourages the creation and continued use of school and community gardens through institutionalized school and government support.
3. Local Food Production and Purchasing
According to the USDA, direct farmer to consumer sales are increasing*. SFC supports governmental, structural, and administrative policies that create or strengthen direct links between agricultural producers and individual or institutional purchasers. Local food purchasing policies may address issues pertaining to affordability, distribution and logistics, consumer or producer education, regulation and standards, and other topics that increase opportunities for farmers to participate in viable local sales outlets.
4. Farmer Advocacy
Given that 87% of all farms in Texas are run by individuals or families**, SFC supports a range of policies that help farmers thrive. We promote policies that remove barriers to sustainability and fair profit and that support agricultural practices that enhance the natural environment, benefit the local economy, and preserve farming heritage while providing access to affordable, healthy, and culturally appropriate food for consumers.
5. Farmland Preservation
The state of Texas loses more than 360 acres of farmland per day***. SFC supports policies that maintain and increase farmland for sustainable food production, especially for potential farmers with limited resources and from diverse communities.
6. Food Justice
Defined by New York’s Just Food, food justice means “communities exercising their right to grow, sell, and eat healthy food. Healthy food is fresh, nutritious, affordable, culturally-appropriate, and grown locally with care for the well-being of the land, workers, and animals.” Barriers to accessing healthy food disproportionately affect communities of low-income residents and communities of color ****. SFC supports policies that promote social equity, so that every community may experience food justice.
* USDA, 2014 https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/viewhtml.php?id=263
** Texas A&M Agrilife Extension: http://agecoext.tamu.edu/files/2013/08/AgFacts.pdf
*** American Farmland Trust http://18.104.22.168/programs/states/tx/
**** Race & the Food System, by Growing Food & Justice Initiative and Why Hunger: http://growingfoodandjustice.org/race-and-the-food-system/
Sustainable Food Center recognizes that cultivating a community with equitable access to healthy food and a sustainable local food system includes many intersecting issues. They include but are not limited to equitable and effective transportation; affordable housing; a living wage; clean water; and climate change mitigation.