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County considers food purchasing policy to support local economy, sustainability

Alameda County Supervisors next week will consider a plan to change the way food is purchased for public institutions, such as jails and health care facilities.

The Board of Supervisors meets at 10:45 a.m. Tuesday to consider a food purchasing policy that looks to only support producers, processers and distributors that value local economies, nutrition, animal welfare, environmental sustainability and workers rights.

Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan, who is sponsoring the initiative, wrote:

“As a public agency which spends significant public dollars on food, the vast majority of which is purchased by the Sheriff’s Office and Probation Department, Alameda County has a responsibility to set a high standard and ensure that public funds are spent in a manner consistent with county values.”

Chan said the Good Food Purchasing Policy resolution will help the county reach this higher bar.

Under the plan, local purchasing companies, small farmers and food vendors will have increased opportunities for contracts and the county will prioritize purchasing from producers that demonstrate they have a valued workforce.

Originally developed by the Los Angeles Food Policy Council and adopted by the city and the Los Angeles Unified School District in 2012, dozens of entities across the country, such as schools, hospitals and prisons, have adopted the policy to transform how they purchase food.

Many say the plan saves money while giving people access to higher quality food and supporting the local economy.

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