Better Together: LB Fresh hosts fellow California Food Policy Councils to encourage shared learning across the state

Long Beach locals know they have an ally for all things food in Long Beach, but did you know LB Fresh is part of a network of 23 food policy councils working on a variety of food issues across the state?

The California Food Policy Council was established in 2013 as a “think and do tank” organization that provides backbone connectivity from areas as diverse as San Diego County to Yolo County. They host quarterly calls and produce an annual report to facilitate cross-learning and a united front on issues from urban agriculture to farmers market access and ecological degradation.

While LB Fresh has benefited greatly from this alliance, we believe that there are more opportunities on the table for more integration of our efforts across the state. For example, we organized a learning/sharing trip to San Diego in 2018 to learn more about the 400+ salad bars installed in San Diego schools (compared to Long Beach’s zero school salad bars).

Salad Bar field trip to San Diego

In November of last year, we had staff from the LA Food Policy Council down for an “Urban Aggies” luncheon at the Gladys Ave Urban Farm which sparked renewed regional collaboration between Long Beach, Los Angeles and San Diego.

Urban Aggies Luncheon with LA Food Policy Council in the house!

More recently, our Spring Foodways Summit 2022 created an opportunity for us to host May Patino, Co-Director of the California Food Policy Council and the Humboldt Food Policy Council, UC Berkeley Goldman School of Policy graduate student, Samantha Smith, and inspired a drop-in by friends from the Riverside Food System Alliance, Seth Wilson and Gurumantra Khalsa.

Crop Swap on April 2, 2022. (Brian Feinzimer)

Hosting fellow food policy councils was very rewarding for us and resulted in significant outcomes. For one, we were able to show off some of the programs we have in Long Beach and gain an outsider’s point of view on what we’re both accomplishing and struggling with.

Beyond our own self-reflection, we were able to contribute our learning here to projects our fellow policy councils are initiating. The Riverside Food Alliance attended our “DelicaSea” pop-up at the Bixby Knolls Farmers Market because they are researching how to launch urban markets in neighborhoods where there is an extreme disconnect between residents and the local food system.

Bixby Knolls farmers market on March 31, 2022. (Brian Feinzimer)

The foodways summit showed that Long Beach is ready for our close-up too: Luann Barry of 1st Wave Productions, is shooting a documentary for the COOK Alliance, a non-profit helping legalize the selling of homemade food. The summit created an opportunity for Luann to shoot interviews with Aliye Aydin of Spice Club, Shautessia Woods of International Players Juice, Laura Som of The Maye Center and Sandy Wall of Pueblita Tortillas to help advance the cause for micro-enterprise home kitchens in Long Beach, a policy we’ve been working on getting implemented since before the pandemic.

Long Beach Home Farm Tour on April 2, 2022. (Brian Feinzimer)

Lastly, and possibly most exciting, the visit inspired an extensive case study of our local work in Samantha Smith’s advanced policy analysis of the Golden State’s food policy councils for UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy in which she described our work as follows:

“LB Fresh’s various forums provide a space to discuss the issues facing the Long Beach community food system, and hear diverse perspectives regarding how to address them. These forms of engagement from the community are necessary to influence policy and enact sustainable change.

This form of engagement is in alignment with Professor Tim Lang’s idea of food democracy. To him, food democracy means “the long process of striving for improvements in food for all, not the few.” Food Policy Councils like Long Beach Fresh bring together stakeholders in the community food system and facilitate their influence in constructing a system that reflected the community’s values.”

Crop Swap on April 2, 2022. (Brian Feinzimer)

With all of the growing experiences we’ve had hosting and visiting with other food policy councils, we feel food policy council cross-visits are an important method for accelerating the food movement regionally and statewide. We look forward to hosting more food organization visitors in the future and please drop us a line if you have the opportunity to invite us to your neck of the garden.

Story by Ryan Smolar

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