In doing so, the Center has focused its efforts on access to healthy food. Improving healthy food access in low-income communities and communities of color continues to be an urgent need with nearly 30 million people living in low-income areas with limited access to supermarkets (defined as the closest store being more than a mile away). The problem is particularly acute in low-income communities of color.
The Center recognizes that access is the foundation for the positive benefits associated with healthy food. Without access to healthy foods, a nutritious diet and good health are out of reach. And without grocery stores and other fresh food retailers, communities are also missing the commercial vitality that makes neighborhoods livable and helps local economies thrive.
The Center for Health Equity and Place continues to work to create healthy, equitable communities by improving access to healthy food through the strategies, tactics, and tools below.
Click here to go to the library to view Center for Health Equity and Place resources.
Federal Healthy Food Financing Initiative
Equitable Food Procurement
A movement to purchase locally sourced, sustainably grown, and healthy food is beginning to build momentum. Food procurement — how and from whom government institutions purchase food — is emerging as a powerful tool to strengthen and create an equitable local food system that would impact the health and well-being of all Americans while also revitalizing local economies across the country. By procuring sustainably produced, local food, communities can improve access to healthy food for low-income families and communities of color, support local entrepreneurship, and create high-quality local jobs that increase wealth, quality of life, and purchasing power for food, shelter, and health care.
States like Vermont and cities such as Los Angeles, Oakland, and Chicago are already leading the way to enact equitable healthy food procurement policies. Successful models like the Center for Good Food Purchasing’s Good Food Purchasing Program and the Center for Ecoliteracy’s California Thursdays program are already benefitting low-income entrepreneurs of color, small family farmers and farmer workers, while providing consumers access to healthy food.
The current landscape presents a critical window of opportunity to realign food policy initiatives toward equity through an equitable procurement policy. PolicyLink is actively working with a diverse range of partners in public health, labor and economic justice, environmental sustainability, and public and private sector to advance equitable procurement policy at local, state, and national levels, through a mix of education, research, convening, and policy advocacy.
For more information about PolicyLink’s procurement efforts, check out these great resources:
- Equity Blog Post: The Movement for Local Food Procurement
- Equitable Development Toolkit: Local Procurement: This tooklit outlines the economic, food system, environmental, and public health benefits to local food procurement. It also lifts up various state legislation, key players, and local organizations involved in this ever-expanding movement.
- Webinar Archive: Local Food Procurement 101: Policies and Programs
- The Los Angeles Good Food Purchasing Program: Changing Local Food Systems, One School, Supplier, and Farmer at a Time: This profile highlights the Good Food Purchasing Program, including its development, successes and impacts along the school food supply chain.
- America's Tomorrow Newsletter article: Tracking the Ripple Effects of LA’s Good Food Purchasing Program
- The Farm to Plate Investment Program: A 10-Year Roadmap to Revitalizing Vermont’s Food System: This profile highlights the Farm to Plate (F2P) Investment Program, which was designed to strategically strengthen the state’s food and farm sector and encourage the purchasing of local foods.
- Webinar Archive: Leveraging Institutional Purchasing Power to Expand Access to Healthy Food
PolicyLink offers technical assistance and training to advocates, activists, elected officials, and public agencies working in communities across the country to create equitable food systems. We utilize a variety of approaches, including research, publications, webinars, and online tools, including the Healthy Food Access Portal.
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
As part of the Food and Community Program of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, PolicyLink provides technical assistance to grantees in nine communities across the nation, specifically: Oakland, CA; Seattle, WA; Philadelphia, PA; Boston, MA; Holyoke, MA; New York, NY; Detroit, MI; Northeast Iowa, and the Tohono O’odham Nation in Arizona. We focus on skills that will develop the capacity of these grantees to implement local policy along with systems change strategies that will improve school food, food systems, and physical activity environments in an equitable manner.
For an in-depth example of a regional food hub working at both ends of the food system, visit Common Market Case Study: Rebuilding a Regional Food Economy and Increasing Access to Healthy Food.