In response to the double-whammy of the pandemic and Winter Storm Uri, Metropolis Council adopted a decision at its June 10 assembly with the purpose of strengthening town’s meals system and aiding the native agricultural business.

“Throughout the pandemic, one of many first impacts that I imagine grew to become publicly of concern … had been the disruptions to our meals system,” mentioned Council Member Kathie Tovo, who sponsored the decision. “As we confronted the climate emergency of February 2021, once more, we had a really stark reminder of the fragility and inequities in our methods, together with the true energy of pure catastrophe to interrupt meals safety for everybody impacted by the storm.”

One solution to strengthen the meals system highlighted within the decision is producing extra meals domestically. The decision directs town supervisor to create a listing of city-owned properties that may very well be used for meals manufacturing, utilizing conventional agriculture in addition to new strategies like vertical farming, hydroponics and aeroponics, or by non-agricultural makes use of like chilly storage services, slaughterhouses and markets.

The resolution additionally prompts the creation of a complete Austin/Travis County meals system plan. A neighborhood board will oversee the planning by stakeholders and metropolis and county workers members. Individually from the great plan, town will conduct a meals insecurity evaluation, focusing significantly on the wants of individuals experiencing homelessness. 

The decision addresses essentially the most sensible consideration: how one can fund the work. Whereas Council has already pledged to spend $3 million from the American Rescue Plan stimulus package deal on meals insecurity – cash that may very well be used to advance the decision’s targets – the decision opens the door for funding sources, together with bond financing. 

Detailed recommendations by the Austin-Travis County Meals Coverage Board, which Council endorsed, knowledgeable a lot of the decision’s content material.

Metropolis Supervisor Spencer Cronk will present an replace on the meals system plan in August, together with when the ultimate model might be prepared.  

Council members say that addressing the meals system is more and more essential in a altering local weather. “We all know that our meals methods are very vulnerable to the impacts of local weather change,” Tovo mentioned. 

Sprawling improvement can also be hurting the native meals system by consuming away at what’s left of native agriculture. “Over the past 11 years, Travis County has misplaced 25 p.c of its farmland, rating second within the state to farmland misplaced to improvement,” the board famous in its suggestions. To push again on this development, the board beneficial that town ought to contemplate agriculture one of the best use for city-owned properties with a USDA prime farmland designation.

Council Member Vanessa Fuentes mentioned that the decision “will get us on that path” to addressing meals insecurity in a complete manner. “For a lot too lengthy, we’ve had meals deserts positioned in our neighborhood, and significantly within the japanese crescent,” she mentioned. “It isn’t okay to have households that don’t know the place their subsequent meal goes to return from.” 

The suggestions by the meals coverage board to deal with meals insecurity embrace extra funding for meals banks and related organizations, extra metropolis workers engaged on meals insecurity, continued hire help, and finally, the creation of a meals system division.

“This isn’t straightforward to do, ” the board wrote. “It requires time, cash and an excessive amount of transparency and accountability. It was wanted previous to Covid-19, and that want is now exacerbated and pressing.”

Picture made obtainable by a Creative Commons license.

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