We are honored to recognize Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu as our 2019 Good Food Policy Hero. In March 2019, the City of Boston adopted a Good Food Purchasing Policy, which Councilor Wu sponsored and championed, ensuring that the adopted policy prioritized community engagement, transparency, and racial equity.
Drawing inspiration from the Cook County, IL, Board of Commissioners policy, the Boston policy incorporates mechanisms to prioritize democratic engagement in the procurement process, including a public hearing to present department and agency baseline performance in the Good Food Purchasing Program; transparency around procurement decisions; and the creation of a Community Advisory Council for ongoing community engagement around implementation to ensure community values are incorporated into procurement decisions.
The policy also specifies that, in accordance with regional equity goals, preference should be given in the bidding process for vendors that hire and invest in local disadvantaged communities, provide living wages to their employees and front line workers; are businesses owned by minorities, disabled people, or women or are local producers who operate in low-income communities and employ sustainable production practices.
In a Civil Eats article earlier this year, Wu spoke of the ways in which the Good Food Purchasing Policy aligns and supports existing priorities of the City Council: “It was important to our group to include this provision emphasizing racial equity and closing the wealth gap, because that’s a glaring area of need in Boston. The work aligns with other initiatives that we have been pushing on the Boston City Council, including equity in opportunity for city contracting overall for businesses owned by people of color and women. At a time when so much is at stake in government and society, we want to get every bit of value out of taxpayer dollars, and this push for equity needs to be part of our food justice plans.”
Further, she emphasized her hope that the growing Good Food Purchasing Program “will bring the issue of food justice to a wider audience and build momentum for systemic change. So many of us take food for granted as a basic need that has to be met without realizing that the food supply chain is rife with abuses—of workers, animals, environment, and health—and we have the power to change that. The return to local, sustainable, fair, humane, and healthy is one of the most fundamental shifts to build a better future.”
Leadership like Councilor Wu’s is what ensures that the growing movement for Good Food Purchasing is embedded within decision-making processes. We look forward to other cities following in Boston’s footsteps, and congratulate Councilor Wu for her vision encouraging policy-makers in other cities to take a stand on values-based purchasing. Thank you, Councilor Wu, for your contributions to the Good Food movement!