Seattle, WA Resolution on Strengthening the City's Food System Sustainability and Security

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Seattle, WA, US

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Type: Resolution

Status: Introduced on 10/8/07 -- Currently, in committee

Source File:


A RESOLUTION establishing goals, creating a policy framework, and identifying planning, analysis and actions for the purpose of strengthening Seattle's food system sustainability and security.

WHEREAS, food and water are sustaining and enduring necessities and are among the basic essentials for life; and

WHEREAS, the "food system" is defined as the agents and institutions responsible for production, processing, distribution, access and consumption, and disposal of food (Kaufman 2004); and

WHEREAS, food system activities take up a significant amount of urban and regional land; and

WHEREAS, the food system consumes a major amount of fossil fuel energy, land area, and water in production, processing, transportation, and disposal activities; and

WHEREAS, maintaining and improving the security of our local food supply is essential to local emergency preparedness and local self-reliance; and

WHEREAS, the food system represents an important part of community and regional economies; and

WHEREAS, according to research conducted by Sustainable Seattle, the returns to our local economy for each dollar spent at a local farmers' market are more than two times greater than the return on each dollar spent at a grocery chain; and

WHEREAS, hunger and food insecurity are important issues that most adversely affect low-income and minority populations; and

WHEREAS, as of 2004, 29.9% of Seattle's commercial waste is food, 33.0% of Seattle's residential waste is food, and 24.9% of Seattle's overall solid waste is food; and

WHEREAS, food losses as a percentage of each sector's solid waste streams were as follows: Hotel/Motels 46.9%, Retail 35.2%, Education 32.9% and Health Care 22.7%; and

WHEREAS, the City recently passed Resolution 30990, a "Zero Waste Strategy" that includes goals and strategies to increase food waste recycling and reduce food waste; and

WHEREAS, obesity and associated costs and diet-related diseases significantly impact the health of Seattle residents, and

WHEREAS, improving our local, regional, and statewide food systems advances the Seattle Comprehensive Plan goals of economic opportunity, environmental stewardship, community, and social justice; and

WHEREAS, there are significant community-building benefits to community gardening; and

WHEREAS, the Seattle-King County Acting Food Policy Council (AFPC) has been working to develop recommendations for improvements to our food system sustainability and security, and the City acknowledges and appreciates the work of AFPC members, Cooperative Extension, the Washington State Agriculture Commission, the University of Washington Program on the Environment and Department of Urban Design and Planning, the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, Public Health Seattle-King County, and the Seattle Interdepartmental Team working on food policy issues; and

WHEREAS, the American Planning Association Board of Directors adopted on April 15, 2007, a Policy Guide on Community and Regional Food Planning recommending the inclusion of food policies in local and regional plans; and

WHEREAS, approximately 82 cities and regions have established Food Policy Councils;


Section 1. Goals. These goals are meant to provide guidance for analysis, program development, policy development and actions related to Seattle and the region's food system sustainability and security. The overall intent of this initiative is to improve our local food system and in doing so, advance the City's interrelated goals of race and social justice, environmental sustainability, economic development, and emergency preparedness. These goals include:

a. Strengthen community and regional food systems linking production, processing, distribution, consumption, and waste management to facilitate, to the extent possible, reliance on our region's resources.

b. Assess and mitigate the negative environmental and ecological effects relating to food system activities.

c. Support food system activities that encourage the use of local and renewable energy resources and minimize energy use and waste including:

  • Reducing food in our waste stream,
  • Discouraging or restricting excessive and environmentally inappropriate food packaging at all levels of the food system (production, wholesale, retail and consumer), and
  • Reducing the embedded and distributed climate impacts of Seattle's food system.

d. Stimulate demand for healthful foods, especially in low-income communities through collaboration with community-based organizations and institutions.

e. Increase access for all of Seattle's residents to healthy and local foods through:

  • Increasing the opportunities for Seattle residents to purchase and grow healthy food in the city,
  • Supporting new opportunities for larger scale distribution of locally and regionally produced food,
  • Addressing disparities in access to healthy foods in inadequately served populations and neighborhoods, and
  • Increasing the amount of fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat in the emergency food system.

f. Integrate food system policies and planning into City land use, transportation and urban activities.

g. Develop and enhance partnerships within the City as well as regionally to research and promote local solutions to food issues.

h. Establish a strong interdepartmental focus within City departments on programs and policies affecting food system sustainability and security.

i. Support procurement policies that favor local and regional food sourcing.

j. Enhance emergency preparedness related to food access and distribution including working toward the goal of establishing regional capacity for feeding the population for 2-3 months in an emergency.

Section 2. Framework. This resolution provides the framework for actions that the City intends to develop and implement to promote local food system sustainability and security. These actions include:

a. The Department of Neighborhoods (DON) in cooperation with the Food System Enhancement Interdepartmental Team (IDT) is requested to develop a Food Policy Action Plan. As part of this plan, the IDT is requested to coordinate a spatial analysis of threats to food security with relevant departments and institutions. This analysis should include access to healthy food and the concentration of fast food establishments. By September 1, 2008, DON with the IDT is requested to transmit a draft plan to Council for review. This plan should, at a minimum, identify ways to structure the City's focus on food system sustainability and security including recommendations for:

  • Strengthening the city's programs and policies that support the goals stated in Section 1;
  • Promoting and improving direct connections between farmers in the region and State with urban consumers, such as community supported agriculture, agro-food tourism, connections to major institutions including hospitals, schools, and jails, and connections that foster niche markets for local specialties;
  • Increasing access for all of Seattle's residents to healthy, culturally appropriate, and local and regional food;
  • Identifying opportunities for community involvement especially by minorities and immigrants;
  • Identifying strategies to encourage educational and health care institutions, community-based organizations, businesses, religious institutions, and other consumers and providers of food to the public to promote healthy choices and food produced locally and regionally;
  • Decreasing environmental impacts of the food system;
  • Developing procurement policies that favor the sourcing of local and regional foods.

b. The Office of Economic Development (OED) is requested to assess citywide policies that promote local farmer's markets and market gardens and to work with appropriate departments to identify permanent locations for existing farmer's markets. OED is requested to consider recognizing Food and Beverage as a key industry sector. By August 1, 2008, OED is requested to submit a report with recommendations for any new or revised policies that strengthen our local farmer's markets and market gardens. The report should include proposals for permanent locations of farmer's markets and also include any proposed legislation to Council for its consideration.

c. The Department of Neighborhoods (DON) is requested to identify additional locations and infrastructure for community gardens that would strengthen our community garden program, maximize accessibility to all neighborhoods and communities, especially low-income and minority residents, and provide gardens to underserved neighborhoods. DON is requested to work with relevant departments and universities to conduct an inventory of public lands in Seattle appropriate for urban agriculture uses. By August 1, 2008, DON is requested to submit a report with recommendations for community gardens, the results of the inventory of public lands, as well as a proposed process and outline for a new P-Patch Strategic Plan that includes public involvement and a timetable for Council consideration.

d. The Department of Planning and Development (DPD) is requested to review land use policies to ensure that they encourage the inclusion of small and mid-size grocery stores (e.g. 3,000 to 20,000 square feet) in mixed use neighborhood design and redevelopment, review the land use code to identify codes that support or conflict with the goal of potential future development of urban agriculture and market gardening, and review the spatial analysis and land use code to determine options to limit the location of convenience stores and fast food outlets that do not sell nutritious food products. By, August 1, 2008 DPD is requested to transmit a report with analysis, recommendations and identification of policies that would further support local and regional food system sustainability and security goals as stated in Section 1.

e. The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is requested to include, as criteria for transportation planning, an analysis of safe and convenient pedestrian, bicycle, and transit connections between residential neighborhoods and community gardens, food banks, food markets, and farmer's markets. SDOT, in cooperation with the Office of Emergency Management, is also requested to evaluate and prioritize emergency planning transportation access to emergency food supplies including warehouses and distribution routes throughout the city.

f. The Office of Emergency Management, in cooperation with other relevant departments, is requested to review the City's Disaster Readiness and Response Plan and evaluate whether improvements can be made to improve to food system security, and to assure that appropriate agreements and partnerships are in place for food accessibility and distribution in the event of a disaster. Priority in agreements and policies should be given to contracts that promote local and regional food producers and local sources, where feasible.

g. The Office of Sustainability and Environment (OSE), in cooperation with relevant departments, is requested to develop a scope of work related to food system sustainability and security to analyze climate change initiatives in which the City could participate, and policies that support the goals in Section 1. By August 1, 2008, OSE is requested to transmit this scope of work to Council for consideration.

h. The Human Services Department (HSD) is requested to work with emergency food provider and distributor partners to identify opportunities to increase fresh and locally and regionally produced foods in the emergency food system. HSD is encouraged to utilize the City's Health Initiative to further the goals outlined in Section 1.

Section 3. The City supports the formation of a Food Policy Council (FPC) and commits the City to participate in the FPC. Because food policy issues transcend City boundaries, the City indicates its preference that, at a minimum, a Food Policy Council will be, regional in scope and membership, and has a strong link to state and Pacific Northwest food policy organizations.

Section 4: The City requests that King County, the Puget Sound Regional Council, and the Growth Management Planning Council of King County recognize the important role of food policy in regional and county-wide planning, and to take steps to initiate policy development for their respective bodies around this issue.

Section 5. The City supports the development of a partnership with universities to assist us in the development of the Food Action Plan and other policy and technical analysis that contributes to meeting our goals.

Section 6: The City calls upon the State Department of Agriculture to increase its role in working towards a state food policy consonant with the goals in Section 1.

Section 7: The City directs its federal lobbyists to take an active role in advocacy for a Farm Bill that reflects and supports the goals expressed in this resolution.