In 2020-2021, the Sustainability Department piloted a unique engagement program for resident leaders from historically underrepresented or underserved communities to participate in how Salt Lake City tackles healthy food access. The Resident Food Equity Advisors consisted of 13 residents from a diversity of backgrounds who met monthly to strategize solutions that would be most beneficial for their communities. The Advisors’ insights deepened the City’s understanding of local food insecurity and the unequal barriers some residents face when trying to access healthy, culturally appropriate, and personally relevant food. The program culminated in a report with key ideas and recommendations for how the City can achieve greater food equity.
Some Key Ideas from the Final Report
- Put people first and prioritize voices from underrepresented and underserved communities.
- Create ongoing leadership opportunities for residents to help shape SLC’s food policy agenda.
- Acknowledge and address the structural causes of food inequity and injustice, including the role of past and current policy related to housing, zoning, transportation, and economic development.
- Support holistic solutions that provide equitable and reliable access to fresh, healthy, affordable, and relevant food – including the ability to grow food.
- Recognize that “normal food” means something different for everyone and that food access solutions must be flexible enough to reflect that.
- Advance solutions that reduce stigma and cultivate dignity and self-determination.
- Prioritize food planning and investments in historically marginalized communities, building equitable food solutions that reflect the diverse cultures, strengths, opportunities, and needs of SLC neighborhoods.
- Adopt a Mayor-City Council Joint Food Equity Resolution to show residents, visitors, and businesses that SLC is committed to advancing food equity as vital to the city.
- Develop more inclusive outreach and communication strategies for community food resources to help increase their accessibility. Ensure that information is tailored for people with differing needs, languages, and life circumstances.
- Continue the Resident Food Equity Advisors Program and pursue other inclusive leadership opportunities, such as a Food Equity Academy, that empower residents to co-develop equitable food solutions.
- Develop a Food Equity Assessment & Action Plan that includes robust and inclusive engagement, identifies “priority zones”, and generates creative solutions for turning underserved areas into “edible landscapes” and “food oases”.
- Support programs that expand relevant and dignified food choices, such as food or cash voucher programs or client choice food pantry initiatives.
- Create a healthy neighborhood corner market and/or fresh food cart initiative to promote fresh food retailing and discourage the inequitable distribution of unhealthy foods.
- Expand opportunities for residents to grow more food by developing an “Edible City for All” resource toolkit, promoting educational opportunities, developing neighborhood orchards, awarding gardening microgrants to individual households, and more.
The Sustainability Department has set aside funding and is developing plans for how to implement some of the Advisors’ recommendations, including the continuation of the RFEA program. Sign up for the SLCgreen newsletter for future announcements!
More About the Program
The RFEA program is part of an overall effort by the Sustainability Department to shift the way policy and programs are developed to emphasize inclusive, community-driven approaches where solutions are co-developed with residents. The goal is to advance solutions that reflect the local knowledge, lived experience, and diverse priorities of residents whose daily lives have been impacted by structural inequities in the food system. Salt Lake City’s RFEA program was inspired by similar programs in Baltimore, DC, and New Haven.
DOWNLOAD THE FINAL REPORT
DOWNLOAD THE 2-PAGE SUMMARY REPORT
“The Resident Food Equity Advisory (RFEA) program has been a great platform empowering local residents to have their voices heard. I felt heard when I saw Taro Leaves at my local Lucky grocery store! I look forward to the day I see a Food Oasis in safe streets on the West Side of Salt Lake City offering healthy restaurant food options”– Lisia Santini, 2021 SLC Resident Food Equity Advisor
“I participated in this program because food has meant so much to me, from my mother’s culturally authentic food to my own personal wellbeing. Access to nutritional, culturally reflective, and affordable food is a determinant factor in a person’s quality of life. We had the opportunity to initiate the discussion and produce a report that captured many of our thoughts, emotions, and social intersections therein; however, this is only the beginning because a tree is only as good as its fruit, and I hope the seeds of such fruit produce an entire forest! Take the report and build off from it, critique it, or add to it, just don’t forget about it.”– Cristobal M. Villegas Jr., 2020-21 SLC Resident Food Equity Advisor
The 2020-2021 SLC Resident Food Equity Advisors
Salt Lake City and the Sustainability Department would like to thank the following Resident Food Equity Advisors for the time and effort they invested in this program and for helping to create a more equitable food system for all SLC residents: Carol Davis, Jennifer Garza, Laura Harper, Zana Jokic, Jodi Key, Nora Lang, Ivoni Nash, Lisia Satini, Eugene Simpson, Jessica Thompson, Cristobal Villegas, Tamara White, and John Wilkes.
For more information about the SLC RFEA program contact firstname.lastname@example.org
This project was funded in part by a grant from Healthy Babies Bright Futures and the Mayors Innovation Project.