City launches Food Policy Council to Direct Community Food Plan

The City of Everett has established a Food Policy Council as part of its plan to ensure that all Everett residents have access to healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate foods – an initiative that passed the Council by default at the end of the last session.

The former City Council initially voted against creating this separate body on Nov. 25, 2019, but the item was passed by default due to a time restriction.

One role of the Food Policy Council will be the implementation of the Community Food Plan, which was created in June of 2018 by the City of Everett, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) and Everett Community Growers (ECG). The Plan was developed following a year-long Community Food Assessment in which research was conducted in four key areas: food security, school food, urban agriculture, and food industry workers.

The Community Food Plan lays out 13 broad goals to increase Everett’s access to healthy foods. These include expanding nutrition education, developing urban gardens, supporting food industry workers, reducing food waste and improving school food options. All goals are accompanied by actionable steps that community leaders can take, with leads already being pursued on nearly all of these steps.

Emily Nink, the development coordinator for ECG, said that the Food Policy Council is vital for implementing the Community Food Plan. She hopes to assemble a Food Policy Council that represents Everett’s diversity.

“We have envisioned a representative [Food Policy] Council that elevates new voices and empowers residents to shape their city’s food system,” she told Independent.

The ECG has created documents that will govern the Food Policy Council, ensuring that its work is grounded in a commitment to health and racial equality. Members of the Food Policy Council, who will represent diverse interests within the community will be appointed by the mayor and approved by the City Council.

In his midterm address on Jan. 6, Mayor Carlo DeMaria praised the formation of the Food Policy Council, which he said will supplement the work already being done on a citywide level to promote healthier living.

“The Food Policy Council will work both with department heads and private businesses to help create a healthier Everett,” he said, citing Everett’s high obesity rate, especially among children.

Mayor DeMaria had originally expressed disappointment that the Food Policy Council had not met with more support from the former City Council. Many cities throughout the U.S. have food policy councils meant to inform food policy and planning. Everett is taking its cues from cities across the country that have achieved public health successes through comprehensive food plans.

To read more about Everett’s Community Food Assessment and Plan, visit everettcommunitygrowers.wordpress.com.

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