On Jan. 22, the Asheville City Council voted 6 – 0 (Mayor Terry Bellamy was absent) authorizing the city manager to include the goals and action plan recommended by the Asheville Buncombe Food Policy Council into the city’s previously adopted Sustainability Management Plan. The council’s approval of the resolution allows the city to expand its sustainability activities to include food-related activities. The sustainability plan was adopted in June 2009.
Several of the goals outlined in the approved resolution are already in progress, such as including the use of edible landscaping on public property. The time frame of other goals range from short term to long term, such as implementing education programs for city staff and the general public in 2013 to a long-term goal of encouraging food distribution in food deserts.
Read the documents, including a description of specific tasks to be worked on by city staff, here. [PDF] Check back for more food policy reporting on Carolina Public Press.
Originally published Jan. 18, 2013:
Group to ask Asheville council for food-policy commitments
To mark the first year anniversary of its formation, the Asheville Buncombe Food Policy Council will present a resolution to Asheville City Council on Jan. 22 suggesting a range of changes to the city’s food-related policies and activities.
The policy group’s resolution asks the city to accept recommendations and goals ranging from developing a curbside composting program and adopting land-use policies to promoting economic development and combating food insecurity. (See the entire resolution below.)
The council is scheduled to vote on approving the resolution and, if accepted, then incorporate it into the city’s Sustainability Management Plan. The recommendations listed in the resolution will also direct city-planning departments to address policies addressing food-system topics.
“It will give city staff the green light to work on the resolution’s 14 guiding statements,” said the council’s facilitator-elect Susan Garrett, of the Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry. “Acceptance by the city is really important; it shows community buy-in.”
They’ve already called on the city for help, Garrett said, and the resolution is the Asheville portion of a more comprehensive food policy plan for Buncombe County developed by the food council. She said the group has also approached Buncombe County officials and hopes to establish a similar partnership.
“We’ve had an amazing collaboration with the city,” she said. “I think the speed in which we’ve moved in developing the plan and the good will with the city has been pretty unique.”
“There’s a clear community need to strengthen the food system in Asheville and the surrounding area,” said Gordon Smith, a founding member of the council and a member of Asheville City Council. “Our regulatory code is designed for a food system in the age of the supermarket. Our policies need to support and encourage a local-based food system, such as encouraging small grocers and food markets in neighborhoods that are food insecure.”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture website, households experience food insecurity when access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources. In Buncombe County, the estimated household prevalence rate of food insecurity in Buncombe County averaged 17.11 percent of households between 2009 and 2011. The statewide average was 17.10 percent and the national average was 14.7 percent during the same time frame.
Smith said that implementing some of the recommendations would require staff time. Others, such as developing a city-wide composting program, may need an additional and significant capital investment.
Yet, according to Garrett, the benefits of the investment in the food economy may be worth it, and that belief is shared by the volunteers who formed and developed the group’s action plan.
Serving as a forum for food policy discussions since its first meeting in October 2011, the volunteer council and its members include representatives from nonprofit agencies, business and restaurant owners, land planners, government officials and farmers. It is one of several councils working in the region on similar issues.
“Working with this group has been like nothing else that I’ve done before,” Smith said. “This effort has transcended politics. It’s been a labor of love for people who are passionate about these issues.”
Community members are invited to attend the first Asheville Buncombe Food Policy Council meeting of 2013, which will be on Friday, Feb. 1, from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Mountain View Room in UNC Asheville’s Sherrill Center.