Council to Hear Report on Food and Economic Development in Davis

There was a series of discussions in November and December, facilitated by community members Ann Evans, Deema Tamimi and Catherine Brinkley.  These discussions were held with stakeholders from the business community, including food & beverage purveyors and grocers, university, non-profits, the farm community and elected leaders.

On Tuesday the council will hear a draft of the report on food and economic development and determine whether they have interest in the recommendations from the report.  If they do, staff could be asked to analyze and form plans as to how to proceed.

Mayor Brett Lee, in the forward, noted: “The ideas and recommendations for policy and action in the report could not be more bold, timely and important for the City and citizenry to converse about, consider and, where feasible, implement.”

He said, “The long-term impact of this report cannot be overstated.”  He added, “We are looking to provide greater health and well-being for our residents, a more sustainable approach to farming and food distribution for our ecosystem and to provide leadership best practices that can and will be adopted by other communities and regions. This report delivers big picture and baby step tactical strategies to achieve just that.”

The mayor adds: “I share the vision laid out in the report to establish the City of Davis as a sustainable food testing lab, to lead in climate-smart food practices, to ensure access to a healthy diet for all, to make the City of Davis a leading center for food entrepreneurship, education and innovation, and to establish a cohesive food brand and narrative for our city.

“This vision builds on the legacy of sustainability in the City of Davis created over the decades and takes it to the next step. It will create a better quality of life for those who choose to live, study and visit our beautiful and historic, sustainable city.”

“The City is poised to forge a new identity built on this long legacy in sustainable food innovation,” the authors write in their Executive Summary.  “Recent community planning efforts for the Downtown Plan urge further leadership in sustainability, the cultivation of new opportunities in economic development based on food-centered entrepreneurialism, and innovative food policy that provides a healthy diet for all.”

They add: “Davis’ history of being at the forefront of sustainable living, its proximity and historical connection to agriculture, and the expertise at UC Davis, provide a unique combination of ingredients for this new identity and economic engine. Together, these assets can help the City of Davis to cultivate a unique, authentic and thriving food culture for its community and the region.”

They note that, as part of the city’s revision to the General Plan in the coming years, they could develop a “food policy planning document” that “could help make recommendations for both physical and social plans that consider sustainability, energy and land-use with a focus on diet-related health and equity.”

They write: “The end result over time will hopefully be a richer, more diverse, increasingly supportive economic and cultural environment for food-centered education and business that benefits citizens and visitors alike.”

Among the policy goals:

  • Establish Davis as a Sustainable Food Testing Lab, Leading in Climate-Smart Food Practices
  • Ensure Access to a Healthy Diet for All
  • Make the City of Davis a Leading Center for Food Entrepreneurship
  • Support the City of Davis in Becoming a Leader in FoodTech and AgTech
  • Establish a Cohesive Food Brand and Narrative

There are a number of component parts of the plan as well.  One is to “adopt, promote and enforce food waste ordinances.”  This would include having “food waste in the City’s update climate policies and planning documents” and adopting Zero Food Waste Goals.

They would also look to support “food rescue and food waste prevention businesses.”  Among the policy steps would be to reduce “policy barriers for community food sharing,” support “creative food waste businesses through incentives,” and apply to grant programs in order “to secure funds for food rescue and food waste prevention.”

They also recommend requiring organic waste composting, which would expand required organic recycling programs, make composting and recycling mandatory for residents and businesses, and participate in anaerobic recycling programs.

The report also recommends the city support and educate the public on local and sustainable foods.  They would do this through supporting local food procurement, supporting agricultural land preservation along the perimeter of Davis with additional focus on contracts that would preserve lands for sustainable agriculture, and also supporting educational programs for kids and adults on sustainable and local food.

Finally they would look to develop a “Good Food Education Center” in conjunction with the Davis Farmers Market.

They write: “Plan for use of City-owned building space in Davis Central Park, co-located with the Davis Farmers Market and the UC Master Gardener/Central Park Gardens which maintains a demonstration kitchen garden, so that a local entity can provide both food and culinary education during the operation of the Davis Farmers Market and throughout the week. The programming could feature local produce and farms.”

In addition to talking about economic development, they also look to work with the county and focus on existing organizations that would tackle food insecurity.

“Food is a basic human right,” they argue.  But current funding for food “does not provide an adequate baseline.”  As a result, “Nearly half of the City of Davis population consists of university students, and 44% of the students at UC Davis experience food insecurity according to a 2018 study by the Chancellor’s Task Force on Student Food Security.”

As a result a critical goal will be to ensure access to a healthy diet for all.

They argue: “The City of Davis has an opportunity to address food insecurity in an innovative and systematic way. Given current proposals to cut federal food assistance programs, support for the food insecure is urgent.”

They write: “This report proposes further investigation of how to weave food security efforts into a food-based economic development plan.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting


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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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8 Comments

  1. Matt Williams

    After the Lets Talk About Food Forum in March (a video of which can be accessed at https://www.civenergy.org/news_items/lets-talk-about-food-forum), a number of questions were posed by Davisites who attended.  Some of those questions were as follows (available at https://www.civenergy.org/discussions/let-s-talk-about-food-tapping-the-potential-for-davis–2). It will be interesting to hear what Vanguard readers have to say about those questions.

    — Food insecurity is an important issue, but what does that have to do with economic development? We could spend a lot of staff effort and dollars addressing food insecurity, but doing so will distract from the efforts to develop food entrepreneurship and innovation.

  2. Matt Williams

    After the Lets Talk About Food Forum in March (a video of which can be accessed at https://www.civenergy.org/news_items/lets-talk-about-food-forum), a number of questions were posed by Davisites who attended.  Some of those questions were as follows (available at https://www.civenergy.org/discussions/let-s-talk-about-food-tapping-the-potential-for-davis–2). It will be interesting to hear what Vanguard readers have to say about those questions.

    — Given that the City already is running a structural budget deficit of up to $8 million annually […] asking for more spending without also bringing money to the table presents a major barrier to large-scale action.  To address that challenge,  the role of UC Davis as a source of food-centered economic innovation would appear to be crucial.  The missing element is a more complete discussion of how to bring the AgriFoodTech industry to Davis. That is going to require a strong partnership with UCD. The Strengths and Potentials section should begin with UCD and its premier rank among agricultural universities. This is the single most unique attribute for Davis, particularly in California.

  3. Matt Williams

    After the Lets Talk About Food Forum in March (a video of which can be accessed at https://www.civenergy.org/news_items/lets-talk-about-food-forum), a number of questions were posed by Davisites who attended.  Some of those questions were as follows (available at https://www.civenergy.org/discussions/let-s-talk-about-food-tapping-the-potential-for-davis–2). It will be interesting to hear what Vanguard readers have to say about those questions.

    — There is little discussion of the new opportunity in developing new plant-based foods that is exploding on the market. Combined with UCD’s research power, this puts Davis in a particularly powerful place to step above neighboring communities, and even the Bay Area.”

  4. Matt Williams

    After the Lets Talk About Food Forum in March (a video of which can be accessed at https://www.civenergy.org/news_items/lets-talk-about-food-forum), a number of questions were posed by Davisites who attended.  Some of those questions were as follows (available at https://www.civenergy.org/discussions/let-s-talk-about-food-tapping-the-potential-for-davis–2). It will be interesting to hear what Vanguard readers have to say about those questions.

    — Sacramento allows front-yard fruit stands by private parties one day a week in order to utilize fruit and food that would otherwise be wasted. Can we do that here in Davis?

  5. Matt Williams

    After the Lets Talk About Food Forum in March (a video of which can be accessed at https://www.civenergy.org/news_items/lets-talk-about-food-forum), a number of questions were posed by Davisites who attended.  Some of those questions were as follows (available at https://www.civenergy.org/discussions/let-s-talk-about-food-tapping-the-potential-for-davis–2). It will be interesting to hear what Vanguard readers have to say about those questions.

    — Here are some creative funding ideas. Seasonal monthly festivals fundraisers and community gatherings like in Japan. Themed events in greenbelt parks and other locations. Davis Food Co-Op, the Farmers Market, Nugget, UC Davis Student Farm, the Mondavi Institute for Food and Wine, etc. are all potential collaborators.

  6. Matt Williams

    After the Lets Talk About Food Forum in March (a video of which can be accessed at https://www.civenergy.org/news_items/lets-talk-about-food-forum), a number of questions were posed by Davisites who attended.  Some of those questions were as follows (available at https://www.civenergy.org/discussions/let-s-talk-about-food-tapping-the-potential-for-davis–2). It will be interesting to hear what Vanguard readers have to say about those questions.

    — What is the mechanism for the Food Policy Council to engage with the existing retail food economy (I.e. grocery, restaurant, and value added vendors)?

  7. Matt Williams

    After the Lets Talk About Food Forum in March (a video of which can be accessed at https://www.civenergy.org/news_items/lets-talk-about-food-forum), a number of questions were posed by Davisites who attended.  Some of those questions were as follows (available at https://www.civenergy.org/discussions/let-s-talk-about-food-tapping-the-potential-for-davis–2). It will be interesting to hear what Vanguard readers have to say about those questions.

    — I agree with the demand that branding should be on a County level. It acknowledges that we depend on the region for our food.  To achieve that kind of cross-community branding the City and the County and UC Davis will need to actively collaborate.  History says there is a lot of romm for improvement in such collaboration.  Can we change that?

  8. Matt Williams

    After the Lets Talk About Food Forum in March (a video of which can be accessed at https://www.civenergy.org/news_items/lets-talk-about-food-forum), a number of questions were posed by Davisites who attended.  Some of those questions were as follows (available at https://www.civenergy.org/discussions/let-s-talk-about-food-tapping-the-potential-for-davis–2). It will be interesting to hear what Vanguard readers have to say about those questions.

    — Have you considered the construction of a more commercial site that could potentially house vendors and entrepreneurs and food businesses and pop-ups, which could include a learning center or cafeteria? I’m curious if approaching the space for food from a more commercial viewpoint would generate dollars for the unique programs you are proposing instead of grants, etc.

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