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Food Policy Council

Mission Statement:
To create a local, equitable, and sustainable food system based on regional agriculture that fosters the local economy and provides healthy affordable food for all people living in Richmond.

California Food Policy Council

The Richmond Food Policy Council is a ratified member of the California Food Policy Council. The California Food Policy Council is a collaborative of local food policy groups working to ensure that California’s food system reflects the needs of all of its communities. Additionally, CAFPC members support legislative and regulatory efforts that help reawaken a healthy, equitable, and resilient food system fit for the 21st century.
Recently, our RFPC members voted to support AB1321 (Ting). AB 1321, would establish the Nutrition Incentive Matching (NIM) Grant Program to maximize California’s share of federal matching funds, improve the health of low-income Californians, and support California’s farming communities and small business owners. With parallel advocacy in the state budget process. AB 1321 asks for a modest allocation from the state’s General Fund for a grant-making program that would scale up a successful pilot that doubles the value of nutrition assistance benefits at farmers’ markets and small business retailers when used to purchase California grown fruits, nuts and vegetables. This bill is a win-win for California’s small- and mid-sized farmers, low-income Californians, and our state economy. It is a local economic development, anti-poverty and anti-hunger policy all rolled up into one bill — and it’s evidence-based.
The NIM Grant Program is built on the evidence-based success from California Market Match, a successful pilot that increases the purchasing power of nutrition assistance benefits (e.g. CalFresh) when clients purchase fruits, nuts and vegetables at more than 100 farmers’ markets. A 2013 evaluation of Market Match reported an average six-fold return, and serves a local economic development strategy for farming communities up and down the state. Participating growers have cited additional income from incentives as the reason for adding staff or acreage.
In addition to AB 1321, there is a state budget proposal to appropriate $5 million/year from the state general fund to support the Act. Under the new Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program in the 2014 Farm Bill, the U.S. Department of Agriculture shall award matching grants over the next four years to support nutrition incentive programs like the NIM Grant Program. Only $65 million of $100 million in FINI funding remains Richmond is uniquely important to because the chair of the committee is our own Asm. Tony Thurmond was one of the originators.

We have some breaking news for you:

AB 1321 (Ting)

passed out of Assembly Ag! 7-1 with Asm. Mathis voting no, Grove absent and Gallagher not voting. It wasn’t the bipartisan support we expected based on the meetings bill sponsors have had but at least it’s out of committee and on to Approps! This is very exciting! Click the link for more information on AB 1321 (Ting)

AB 1321 (Ting)

Click here to learn more about the California Food Policy Council


Healthy School Food Campaign:
As part of the Richmond Food Policy Council’s mission to create an equitable food system that provides healthy food for all people living in Richmond, the Council has launched a Healthy School Food campaign. This student and community-driven initiative will identify and implement strategies to bring fresh healthy meals, including locally grown produce and salad bars, to every student in Richmond and the larger West Contra Costa County Unified School District.
This is an opportunity to make a BIG difference: WCCUSD serves more than 30,000 meals daily! Together we can catalyze bold and positive change that benefits children, families, the local economy, and the environment.

Click here to learn more about the Healthy School Food Campaign

Early Wins
Our first success was a unanimous vote by our City Council to support our campaign and their subsequent signing on of our community Letter of Support. It is truly an honor having their support and equally as rewarding to know that the Richmond City Council, as outlined by the Richmond General Plan, is in favor of the health and well-being of our children.

Petition Campaign

Our community petition drive was phenomenal and a SUPER success. Thank you to everyone that helped us gather signatures, passed the word on, or engaged us in anyway during this time. Our goal was to obtain 1100 signatures by Friday, April 3rd.

Drum roll, please…….

We are pleased to announce that we gathered 1239 signatures!!!

A special shout out to all the youth who beat the pavement gathering signatures for the campaign. Also, thank you Yes Nature to Neighborhoods, Bay Area Community Resources, the RYSE Center, for their awesome Youth Engagement work.

Salad Bar Installation

The RFPC has had many successful conversations with our West Contra Costa Unified School District Food Services Director, Barbara Jellison. She is a huge supporter and partner in this campaign. Additionally we are very excited to announce that we are scheduled to receive the two salad bars from WCCUSD Food Services really soon! The first two schools that will receive a salad bar are Peres Elementary and Nystrom Elementary. Thank you, to all the parents and school site staff for your commitment to our children’s health.

Next Steps

RFPC is currently in conversation with school site staff and community stakeholders at both Peres Elementary and Nystrom Elementary developing strategies to support the installation of the salad bars. We are surveying students and parents, to get a better idea of what fruits, vegetables and other items they would like to see in the salad bar stations as well as recruiting parent volunteers to help students navigate the salad bar during lunch time. If you are interested in volunteering at either one of the schools, please contact Laneisha Whitfield at Laneisha@richmondfoodpolicycouncil.org or laneisha@urbantilth.org to discuss the school district fingerprinting process for volunteers and for further information on current volunteer needs.

Public Health Solutions Interns

RFPC is pleased to announce that we will receive two interns from De Anza High School Health Academy during the months of May 2015- July 2015.
RFPC is currently developing programming and a scope of work for the interns and will add an update soon. This is a really great opportunity for Richmond youth to gain valuable/ practical experience within the scope of public health, prevention and community engagement work and we are honored to play a role in supporting them.

For more information on the Public Health Solutions Program contact Shannon Ladner-Beasley at Sladner-beasley@hsd.cccounty.us or Cedrita Claiborne CClaiborne@hsd.ccounty.us

City of Richmond Urban Agriculture Ordinance

First and foremost I would like to thank the City of Richmond Planning Department for their presentation at our March 2015 Richmond Food Policy Council Meeting. The group appreciates their commitment to providing transparency and clarity to the process and the immediate feedback that was given in regards to the 1st Draft ordinance. Next, a special thank you to everyone who has submitted their comments and feedback on the recently revised draft ordinance.

Originally, the City planned to have a first reading of the ordinance/ study session on the fourth Tuesday of April. Since this is an ordinance, a second reading of the ordinance will be required before the City Council can vote to pass or deny the ordinance. Unfortunately due to the amount of staff time that’s required to prepare the City’s housing element update and proposals for a just cause eviction ordinance (both of which have a City Council-imposed deadlines), the first City Council hearing of the urban agriculture ordinance will be postponed. While the additional delay is unfortunate, it does give us more time to review drafts of the ordinance and gather more community feedback.

I have outlined the suggestions and comments that were sent to Lina and Paige in the Planning Department below. Feel free to contact me for any background regarding the revised document or the groups recommendations at Laneisha@richmondfoodpolicycouncil.org. I’ll continue to keep the group posted as I receive new updates.

View the latest draft of the City of Richmond Urban Agriculture Ordinance here

Please note additional changes will be made to the document as there had been no legal review prior to our March 16th RFPC meeting

Urban Agriculture Ordinance Revisions based on community feedback from our February 17th RFPC meeting are below:

Note- The Planning Department staff agreed with many of the community’s concerns regarding the ordinance, and they will work to address those concerns in the revised draft. Some things the revised draft will seek to accomplish include:

1. A simplified process for submitting paperwork to the City: The City would like to collect information on urban agriculture sites and contact information for site owners in case we receive calls about the property. But the Planning Department agrees that the language in the current ordinance under section 15.04.825.020 (C) is too burdensome, and they are working to simplify these requirements.

2. Lower permitting fees: We are modeling this after Boston’s Urban Agriculture Ordinance. Permit requirements will be predominantly based on the size of the lot, not its zoning use.

a. This eliminates the zoning requirement for properties zones as “single family residence” and “multifamily residence,” unless the size of the lot exceeds the threshold (described in the next paragraph).
b. Our goal is to have $0 in fees for urban agriculture sites under 10,000 square feet (the equivalent to two standard sized property lots). Lots between $10,000 square feet and 1 acre would have to pay a permitting fee around $400 (we are still working to establish a fund that would pay for this), and lots over 1 acre would have larger fees (I’m not sure what these fees would be). There may be fees for aquaculture, aquaponics, etc. I’m not sure what these fees would be.

3. Current projects: The Planning Department is reviewing other cities’ ordinances to determine if we should grandfather current projects or provide them with a grace period to file necessary paperwork with the City.

4. Compost/trash: This requirement will be amended. The new requirement will be to have all compost and trash at least 3 feet away from a dwelling. This is an attempt to reduce negative impacts on other properties.

5. Farm stands: These will be allowed to operate between certain hours of the day, and they should not block public rights-of-way (e.g. sidewalks).

6. Farmers markets: The Planning Department is considering removing all regulations of farmers markets from the urban agriculture ordinance since they are regulated at the County level. This would include an elimination of the currently proposed permit requirements for farm stands.

7. Crop setbacks: This requirement will be amended. The new requirement will be to have crops setback 5 feet from the front of the property, and 3 feet on the sides and rear. This is an attempt to reduce negative impacts on other properties. Please note that the majority of ordinances we reviewed today have crop setbacks of some magnitude.

8. Permitted Accessory Uses and Activities: Section 15.04.825.070 will be entirely revised because the permit process will be based on size rather than these definitions.

9. Neighborhood character: This phrase will be taken out of Section 15.04.825.010 (A)

10. Animals: Animal husbandry will be exempted from this chapter. The references to animals in Section 15.04.825.060 (1) will be removed.

11. Plants Composting in Place: Section 15.04.825.050 (F) (1) will be removed. However, parts (2) and (3) will remain. The goal it so make sure the site is maintained.

12. Notice to Abutting Property Owners: Section 15.04.825.050 (E) will be replaced with a requirement that the farm or garden owner places their name and contact information on a sign at the front entrance of the site. This allows people to contact the owner to report complaints and property crimes, and to contact the owner for volunteer opportunities.

13. Garden center: The goal for defining garden center in Section 15.04.825.020 (G) is to ensure that people aren’t importing foods that are not native to Richmond and then selling them for pure profit. In other words, it’s an attempt to block purely retail establishments from operating under this ordinance. Revised language will be proposed.

Urban Agriculture Ordinance Revisions as of the March 16, 2015 RFPC meeting:

View the latest draft of the City of Richmond Urban Agriculture Ordinance here

Additional changes will be made to the document as there had been no legal review prior to our March 16th RFPC meeting

Recommendations/ Comments following our March 16th RFPC meeting:

Is tiering appropriate based on the current actual sizes of fields/spaces
Are public parks/ and open spaces ( Example Richmond Greenway) exempt from the tiering system
Language added that states that garden size is determined by actual garden size not lot size
Language distinguishing types of manure and allowable usage
Will climbing plants/vegetables be able to grow on fences
Can site have disclosure on types of pesticides used
language that states that the city discourages the use of pesticides
Can language regarding pesticides be added to the application and narrative referencing both statewide and regional allowable pesticides usage and allowable zoning areas
Specific language on types of invasive plants not allowed
Grandfathering- What will the criteria be and how much time will they have to come into compliance with the new ordinance

Join US!

The Richmond Food Policy Council meets every 3rd Monday of the month from 6:00 – 8:00 pm at Richmond City Hall.

Next Food Policy Council Meeting:

Monday, May 18, 2015
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Richmond City Hall, 1st Floor Richmond Room

450 Civic Center Plaza, Richmond, CA

The Richmond Food Policy Council was started in collaboration with the Office of the Mayor, Amahra Hicks and Urban Tilth. Today the Richmond Food Policy Council has over 30 members from a wide variety of community organizations, government agencies and individual community members.

Currently the Richmond Food Policy Council is co-chaired by Gwenn White of the Contra Costa County Health Department and Doria Robinson, Executive Director of Urban Tilth.

THANK YOU to the Richmond Community Foundation and the Office of the Mayor for their generous support of this project since its’ inception in December 2011 and Kaiser HEAL for funding necessary to make sure the council has the capacity to make change. We could not grow, gaining the momentum necessary for change, without your support!