Photo credit: Feeding America San Diego
In 2009, the San Diego County Food System Working Group was formed to direct the creation of a food system assessment. The assessment was developed by staff from the California Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program and the Agricultural Sustainability Institute. Released in 2010, Assessing the San Diego County Food System: Indicators for a More Food Secure Future identified 14 goals for the local food system and found multiple opportunities to enhance the economic viability of producers and the food security of consumers through targeted local actions focused on leveraging San Diego County’s long history in food production and willingness to innovate to solve problems. The assessment included stakeholder recommendations for action, the first of which was the creation of a Food System Council to act as a county-wide coordinating body for fostering collaboration, recommendations, and actions that contribute to a healthy, sustainable, and gainful local food system.
In 2011, San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts and City of San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders working with Roots of Change convened an Urban-Rural Roundtable to look at ways to support better economic and social outcomes from the San Diego County food system. The resulting report, Final Recommendations of the San Diego Urban-Rural Roundtable, had as one of its key recommendations that a Food System Alliance be developed to foster policies and actions that support a healthy and available food supply while enhancing local agricultural and natural resources, encouraging food industry economic development, and improving the health of those living within that community.
Building on the recommendations of both the San Diego County Food System Assessment and the Urban-Rural Roundtable Report, in 2012 The California Endowment generously granted funds to form the San Diego Food System Alliance under its Building Healthy Communities initiative. The Alliance was facilitated by Ag Innovations and focused on:
- Public policy and community action for regional food systems support/development.
- Developing and advocating for comprehensive countywide programs and policies to increase healthy food access.
- Supporting an emerging regional food system, including developing facilities to support the incubation of new food and farming businesses.
- Creating partnerships between Alliance members that increase their individual and collective capacity to address community health issues.
By October 2012, the San Diego Food System Alliance was officially launched. Members agreed to have the existing reports, Assessing the San Diego County Food System: Indicators for a More Food Secure Future and Final Recommendations of the San Diego Urban-Rural Roundtable, serve as the foundational documents for the Alliance.
Currently, the Alliance consists of more than 30 members representing a diverse cross section of the food system, including (but not limited to): distribution, health, food security, philanthropy, production, education/ research and government. The Alliance is not an independent organization, but rather a collaborative of organizations and individuals utilizing a collective impact model to affect positive change in the region’s local food system. The Alliance membership meets monthly in a general meeting. In addition, there are three strategy committees (Local Production & Procurement, Healthy Food Access, and Policy) and three operational committees (Partnerships & Outreach, Process, and Fund Development) which meet monthly to coordinate efforts and execute initiatives identified for 2015.