Austin is a food city. We benefit not only from a wealth of wonderful restaurants, chefs and local farmers, but also from community organizations committed to ensuring Austinites, no matter what zip code they live in, have access to healthy food. There is no easy solution to the food access puzzle. That is why it takes collaboration among the government, nonprofit and private sectors to find solutions.
At the Capital Area Food Bank, we work with The Austin-Travis County Health and Human Services Department, City of Austin Office of Sustainability, Sustainable Food Center, Farm Share Austin, GAVA, the Dell Foundation, St. David’s Foundation, University of Texas School of Public Health, Austin Independent School District and other local partners to identify and advocate for solutions to our hunger crisis. Additionally, we provide our expertise to the Austin-Travis County Sustainable Food Policy Board (SFPB), an advisory body to the Austin City Council and the Travis County Commissioners Court.
We applaud the Austin City Council for recognizing the work of these many local partners and appropriating $400,000 for initiatives recommended by SFPB back in June. These initiatives represented a multi-pronged approach supported by numerous working group meetings, reviews of research and discussions with City of Austin policy staff. Additionally, SFPB worked to ensure our recommendations aligned with the city’s Imagine Austin plan and the Austin Travis County Community Health Improvement Plan. While each of the SFPB’s recommendations implemented alone will not substantially change the food insecurity landscape in Austin, we know a combined effort to provide a broad layer of access options will be the strongest approach to improving community health.
Thanks to this investment, more good food will reach Austin neighborhoods in greatest need. Nutrition is top of mind, and we look forward to continuing work on improving the Community and School Based Farm Markets and the Sustainable Food Center’s Double Dollars Incentive Program. We also look forward to the pilot of a Healthy Food Retail initiative — a piece we believe has potential to improve the food landscape in some key neighborhoods.
No one understands a community’s needs like the local organizations that work with the people and neighborhoods in it. Thank you, Austin City Council, for placing your trust in our local partners.