This year on World Food Day, our co-founders Alexa Delwiche and Paula Daniels were in Rome at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization headquarters to receive a Future Policy Award for Scaling Up Agroecology. Bestowed by a partnership of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Future Council, and IFOAM Organics International, the awards were timed to coincide with World Food Day, established in 1979 by the member countries of the FAO to bring awareness to the issues that create poverty and hunger and solutions to mitigate these joint global crises. Only eight policies from around the world were recognized, culled from an extensive list of international nominations.
Each year on October 16, World Food Day highlights a different aspect of our food system and this year’s theme was “Our Actions Are Our Future.” In a time when our world is facing unprecedented climate change disasters, with what many experts and policymakers have called apocalyptic consequences, we are encouraged that our Good Food Purchasing Program was chosen by an international jury as a policy worthy of world recognition as a solution that can be scaled up to leverage profound change.
This year’s Future Policy Award recognized the world’s best laws and policies promoting agroecology—proven policies that effectively scale up agroecological approaches at local, national, and international levels and contribute to the protection of life and livelihoods of small-scale food producers, ensure sustainable food production systems and implement climate resilient agricultural practices.
The Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP) was the only policy from the United States to receive this recognition. We were honored to share the stage with visionary awardees from India, Brazil, Denmark, Ecuador, Philippines, and Senegal.
The City of Los Angeles was named as the recipient of the award for adopting the Good Food Purchasing Policy in 2012—which was the first important step in launching GFPP into the influential national program that it is today.
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A brief history
In 2012, Paula and Alexa were heading the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, where the policy was developed and vetted. It was signed into official policy of the City of Los Angeles on October 24, 2012 by an Executive Order of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Concurrently, a city council motion was passed of similar substance, thanks to Los Angeles City Councilmembers Koretz, Garcetti, and Huizar. One month later, the Los Angeles Unified School District unanimously adopted the GFPP, thanks to school board members Nury Martinez and Steve Zimmer.
The success of the program sparked national interest, and led to the creation of the Center for Good Food Purchasing in 2015 to expand the program across the country, which has been happening faster than we even projected. We are now working with 28 enrolled institutions across the country, including Chicago and New York. Together, these institutions spend nearly $1 billion on food each year.
Truly, those first steps and the early adoption by Los Angeles paved the way to the Program’s current success and many key milestones over the years.
Thanks and appreciation
There are so many who made this possible, and it would be difficult to name them all, as every individual who contributed was as important to the effort as each ingredient in a favorite recipe. Even a few grains of salt can make such a significant difference in the result; it’s true here, too—as everyone’s effort, large or small, was valuable.
That said, there were some key players we would like to acknowledge and take a moment to thank.
We thank the elected officials who had confidence in our work and agreed to be in the risky position of being the first to adopt. As FAO Deputy Director-General Maria Helena Semedo said,
“Leadership and political will are key to achieve [important policy transitions].” We agree wholeheartedly. For taking these important first steps with us, our deepest gratitude goes to:
- Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
- Mayor Eric Garcetti
- Councilmember Paul Koretz
- School Board Member Nury Martinez
- School Board Member Steve Zimmer
For continued commitment to champion the Good Food Purchasing Program, in addition to those above:
- Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell
- Councilmember David Ryu
- School Board Member Nick Melvoin
For their important and thoughtful contributions during the development of the policy:
- Jill Overdorf (formerly Coosemans Shipping) who co-chaired the Good Food Procurement Working Group and provided food industry knowledge
- Joann Lo (Food Chain Workers’ Alliance) who also co-chaired the working group and offered labor expertise and experience working with the City of LA to implement its Sweatfree Purchasing Ordinance
- Jonathan Kaplan and Dana Gunders (Natural Resources Defense Council) for their environmental expertise
- Michelle Wood (LA County Dept. of Public Health) for her public health knowledge and experience working on procurement change with public agencies
- Cheryl Leahy (Compassion Over Killing) for her expertise on animal welfare and animal agriculture
It is no small coincidence that World Food Day, and US Food Day, are celebrated in the fall.
It is a time of harvest, when seeds planted seasons ago have flourished into their full potential.
It is a time of Thanksgiving. We give thanks to all of you, and extend our heartfelt appreciation to each and every one of you for your collective vision and effort toward making the change we want to see in the world.