December 2, 2021
The Sacramento Region Community Foundation (Foundation) and Valley Vision recently released the first phase of 2021 Sacramento Region Food System Action Plan (Regional Action Plan) that assesses the capital area’s food landscape and offers recommendations to grow its capacity and resilience—efforts made more urgent by ongoing health and climate crises. The second phase, which will identify funding models and strategies to advance the recommendations, will be released in 2022.
“The Regional Action Plan is a roadmap to strengthen our region’s food system so it can best serve the needs of those who live here, as well as those who benefit from our rich agricultural output nationally and globally,” said Linda Beech Cutler, CEO of the Foundation. “The reality remains that, even though our region is blessed with great agricultural abundance, the COVID-19 pandemic and recent wildfire seasons have exacerbated persistent health and economic disparities in our community.”
The 2021 Sacramento Region Food System Action Plan, produced in partnership with Valley Vision, identifies opportunities to strengthen the regional food system.
According to comprehensive analysis conducted for the Regional Action Plan, the number of individuals experiencing food insecurity in the four-county Sacramento region has grown. In 2021, as many as 286,000 people in El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties experience food insecurity, an increase of almost 25,000 individuals from 2019 estimates.
“Understanding food access and security issues is paramount to ensuring a more healthy and accessible food system because when you dig into issues of food insecurity in local communities, you get a glimpse at the complex challenges facing our entire food system,” said Valley Vision CEO Evan Schmidt.
Informed by stakeholders across the region’s food and agriculture sector, the Regional Action Plan identifies key assets, challenges, and opportunities for change that cut across six focus areas that affect the food system: food access and security, the viability of agriculture, environmental sustainability, local food economy, careers in food and agriculture, and health and nutrition. The interconnectivity across these areas means that positive actions in one can cascade to benefit others, according to Schmidt.
For example, a concerted effort to increase CalFresh enrollment for eligible residents would ensure those who are food insecure have increased access to healthy foods, and bring positive economic benefits to local farmers, distributors, and retailers—benefits to the tune of almost $150 million additional expenditures each year, according to the Regional Action Plan.
The Regional Action Plan outlines strategies that will support existing programs, foster new partnerships, and sustain and build investment into our food system. These strategies will build a skilled workforce, support next generation farmers and food entrepreneurs, reduce food waste, promote climate smart agriculture, elevate food and nutrition literacy and more—leading to a vibrant, innovative, and equitable food system.
The Regional Action Plan updates research from 2015 by Valley Vision and the Foundation that was the first of its kind to assess the region’s food economy and offer recommendations to build a healthier, more connected food system. That research inspired a partnership between the Foundation and Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS) to strengthen the local emergency food distribution system; as a result, at the onset of the pandemic, SFBFS and its partner agencies were better positioned to meet the skyrocketing need for emergency food.
“The successes from that partnership and complementary efforts in this space demonstrate that when collaborations across the region’s food system are strong, strategic, and well-resourced, we can point to real and tangible results,” said Kate Stille, Chair of the Foundation’s Board of Directors and Chief Impact Officer for Nugget Markets, Inc. “The Regional Action Plan leverages that momentum to help drive meaningful change moving forward.”
To learn more, download the Sacramento Regional Food System Action Plan.
About the Sacramento Region Community Foundation For over 35 years, the Sacramento Region Community Foundation has been the capital area’s trusted steward of charitable assets and champion for impactful philanthropy. The Foundation's mission is to transform the capital area through focused leadership and advocacy that inspire partnerships and expand giving. Learn more at www.sacregcf.org.
About Valley Vision For over 25 years, Valley Vision has brought communities together to tackle our region's biggest challenges and ensure a more livable future. By creating common ground built on facts through trusted research and meaningful coalition-building, Valley Vision brings "community inspired solutions" to the frontlines of a regional agenda for prosperity, equity, and sustainability.
Only through strategic, collaborative efforts can we address the complex challenges that affect our region’s entire food system. Join us with a donation to the Healthy Food Economy Fund.