To become truly informed and empowered by the work done by the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, the Food System Dashboard serves as a vital measuring tool.
This continuously evolving council project is updated every three to five years. It presents a wealth of data, trends and expert feedback about the health of our local food system, which covers the 10 southernmost counties of California, also known as the Los Angeles Foodshed.
We know it’s a lot to digest, and any attempt to provide a synopsis in this write-up would not do justice to the efforts of many to complete the dashboard.
From a food waste standpoint, in order to have a good food system in Los Angeles, we have to treat our environment in a sustainable manner. We have to use our local food system as a critical tool to reversing climate change, since it, too, is a contributor.
Repurposing food waste, such as composting, is a key practice to fostering a sustainable future. There’s a strong case study of LA Compost on page 78 of the dashboard.
The organization began in 2013 as a food waste diversion service, with a bicycling collection crew towing trailers around 4 cities and picking up organic material from restaurants, homes, and schools. Within five months, these volunteers hauled over 30,000 pounds of organic material to local compost centers. Today, LA Compost continues to work in the spirit of community collaborations central to their initial model of local compost centers.
There’s commentary from Rick Nahmias, executive director of Food Forward, on page 67 about food recovery and waste prevention, and present a vision for how Los Angeles is ripe as a collaborative food recovery community for the U.S. to model.
Despite this strength, trends identified in the Food System Dashboard show that the accumulation of food waste is outgrowing food waste recycling and recovery efforts at the state level.
Nahmias says we must continue to strengthen our emerging food recovery infrastructure to maximize impact locally in Los Angeles and cultivate a replicable model that can be extended beyond our regional boundaries.
“With our foodshed being home to major national food producers, small and big agriculture, and Los Angeles’s thriving port, transportation infrastructure and distribution hubs, we are at the perfect nexus to build and grow the most robust food recovery organizations and network in the nation,” he said.
“Food Recovery is an essential, interdependent two-sided coin. It clearly helps with the supply of food to food insecure individuals in our region, while also reducing the massive amounts of food waste going into our local landfills and thus reducing methane and other noxious gases being released into the environment.” – Rick Nahmias.
On page 80, there’s an interesting case study conducted by the Social Justice Learning Institute and Food Forward to address food insecurity in the Inglewood Unified School District through a “backpack program.”
As you explore the Dashboard, bookmark it as a reference guide. We encourage you to think deeper about what these numbers mean in the real life of your community, and the implications that they may have. The hope is to inspire you to continuously think critically about these data and trends.
For more information, visit the LA Food Policy Council’s website.