My Plan to Address Food Insecurity and to Prepare Los Angeles for a Greener Future.
Because I will not be spending my time working the for-profit corporations who stand to benefit from the District’s bond programs for campaign donations, I will have time to be a champion for the District’s food insecure students. As a Trustee:
I will find funding to boost CalFresh enrollment with qualified support similar to the program at Pasadena City College. I will also advocate for policies like Senator Bill Dodd’s SB 1082 to streamline enrollment through existing student financial aid processes.
I will also advocate for federal support to end student hunger through programs like those envisioned by Congressman Adam Schiff in his Food for Thought Act and Senator Kamala Harris in her Basic Assistance for Students In College (BASIC) Act.
I will fight for equitable funding for our community colleges. Programs like the Hunger-Free College Campuses grant signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown gave the community colleges the same amount of funding as the UCs and CSUs – systems with far greater resources and far fewer students. These types of practices need to end. Equity doesn’t mean dividing money equally between our three systems of public higher education!
Once campuses are re-opened to students, I will work to expand access to the food pantries that have been established in partnership with the non-profits who are currently doing this work and with new partners able to deliver on this goal.
I will bring experts in the field together to help this District use its best assets to innovate and make significant progress helping students meet their basic food needs.
FOOD PRODUCTION & THE GREEN ECONOMY
While the colleges have made many efforts to address food insecurity, they certainly haven’t been innovators in the field. This district has an opportunity to use some of its best assets – its culinary arts programs and its agriculture department at Pierce College – to build a comprehensive sustainable urban agriculture program. Now is the time to move in this direction in a big way. Developing a comprehensive sustainable urban agriculture program across the district would accomplish 3 goals:
Increase the supply of fresh fruit and vegetables available to food insecure students through currently existing distribution mechanisms. Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn has done this with their sustainable urban agriculture program. The other thing I love about Kingsborough’s program is that they’ve tailored their planting selections to reflect the diversity of the community they serve. Imagine what we could produce across Los Angeles.
Create new academic and career-oriented pathways for students interested in developing skills in a key area for sustainability efforts and future job growth. San Diego City College developed the first program of this type in California. There are now programs like it at community colleges across the state, including Oakland’s Merritt College. This is the type of thing we should be doing in Los Angeles. We can innovate by doing it at scale.
Prepare ourselves for the Green New Deal! Friends of the Earth have really thought through this issue and I think they sum it up nicely: “A wide range of farming approaches and food businesses—based on organic, diversified, and regenerative farming and just labor practices—provide vital and practicable climate solutions.” The evidence here could not be clearer. A program in sustainable urban agriculture across the LACCD would be transformative.
Solving the issue of student food insecurity will ultimately require a multi-pronged approach with District programs, state and local programs, and federal programs all addressing the issue with impactful policies. Increasing the supply of food available at student pantries is not enough, but it will certainly be helpful.