What is the Food Action Plan?
The Multnomah Food Action Plan represents the final phases of the Multnomah Food Initiative. A robust Steering Committee comprised of 32 diverse food system stakeholders from local business, government, nonprofits, and community members and organizations was convened to shape a strategic community-based plan to implement by 2025. The 2010 Food Summit and other community workshops were hosted to engage our community in the Plan’s development. The resulting Plan offers recommendations for local government, businesses, non-profit organizations, faith communities, and learning institutions to support the Multnomah Food Initiative's four action areas: local food, healthy eating, social equity, and economic vitality.
The Multnomah Food Action Plan was finalized and launched by our community in January 2011. The Plan was adopted by the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners, the Portland City Council, and over 500 organizations and individuals signed the Declaration of Support. The Action Plan outlines 16 goals and 65 community-wide collaborative actions that can be implemented over the next 15 years, as well as 40 suggested options for individual community members whose daily choices or lack of choices around what to eat and where to shop greatly influence our community.
Why have a Food Action Plan?
Multnomah County, like much of the country, is at a critical juncture in fixing its food system. Currently, we have a two-track food system: those who can afford it have access to sustainable, locally grown, healthful foods, while the poor have few healthful food options in their communities, and even fewer economic resources to purchase such foods. Hunger, food insecurity, and health disparities result from a system that perpetuates economic inequality and social injustice.
Currently, Multnomah County lacks a coordinated strategy around its food system. While there is tremendous effort being made to create a sustainable, healthy, and equitable local food system in Multnomah County, the collective impact of our work can be increased through a community-wide vision and strategic action plan.
Multnomah County policymakers have proclaimed that all residents should have access to healthy, affordable, culturally appropriate, locally and sustainably grown food. Planning for this outcome is critical. Our region has transportation plans, land use plans, climate action plans, and economic development strategies. The time has come to develop a food system strategy and action plan to protect and enhance our food system.
All stakeholders have a voice in the future of our food system --- every eater, backyard gardener, urban and rural farmer, food processor and distributor, emergency food provider, restaurant, grocer, and market vendor. Creating a shared vision and goals among stakeholders through collaborative action is critical for making effective change in food system policy and programs. The Multnomah Food Action Plan presents an opportunity for our community to collaborate, plan, and invest wisely on community-prioritized goals and actions. Working together we can overcome barriers, forge new partnerships, enact new policies, and raise awareness so that it will be easy for families to choose healthy and regionally-produced food.