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LA County Officials Have A Plan To Solve Food Insecurities. Here’s What They Want To Do

A person in a mask and safety vest holds a cardboard tray full of fruit
Boxes of food are distributed by the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank on Aug. 6, 2020 in Paramount, California.
(Mario Tama
Getty Images)
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Yesterday, I told you about Jamiah Hargins, an Angeleno who sprouted up a solution to address food insecurity in Los Angeles with the cultivation of microfarms. Now, I bring you the local government response.

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The number of L.A. County households that reported being food insecure, or who experienced a disruption to their ability to eat regularly, spiked during the pandemic. Things improved in 2021 only to increase again this year due, in part, to inflation.

Enter the L.A. County Food Equity Roundtable. It’s a partnership between the county and three philanthropic foundations — the Annenberg Foundation, the California Community Foundation and the Weingart Foundation — that seeks public investment to address the issue. Among the things it hopes to do is better support local farmers of color as well as community leaders who are exploring non-traditional farming practices (perhaps like Hargins' Crop Swap LA?).

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After successful efforts to boost food access during the pandemic, the group started to look at ways it could end food insecurity for good.

Really what we were doing is just pushing bigger and better bread lines. [We] began to ask the question: ‘How will we ensure that this is not the state of people’s lives every day?'"
— Efrain Escobedo, vice president of public policy and civic engagement at the California Community Foundation

For more information about how the county is going to do this work, read my colleague Frank Stoltze’s article here.

As always, stay happy and healthy, folks. There’s more news below — just keep reading.

We’re here to help curious Angelenos connect with others, discover the new, navigate the confusing, and even drive some change along the way.

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Wait! One More Thing...

What Do You Know About Biddy Mason, An American Hero?

Three people with dark-toned skin look up at a photo
Gladys Smith, Linda Cox and her daughter Cheryl gaze at a picture of Biddy Mason, Cox's great-grandmother, at a monument to her. Circa 1981.
(Shades of L.A. Collection/Los Angeles Public Library Collection)
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Today is my favorite day of the week: Hump Day History Day. I have a special guest I would like you to meet. Her name is Biddy Mason and she’s a Los Angeles icon you should know. Come on in and hop in my yellow Delorean lowrider coupe and let’s go back to the antebellum period of America to meet Ms. Mason.

LAist contributor Hadley Meares beautifully and thoroughly tells the story of a woman who was born into slavery in Mississippi, moved across the country, claimed her freedom, and built generational wealth right here in L.A. The fact that she and so many Black Americans were seen as property and then she fought her way to own her own property gives me goosebumps. "Slaves knew the value of property more than anybody else because they were property,” said Jackie Broxton, the executive director of the Biddy Mason Charitable Foundation.

Broxton is trying to identify all of the land Mason once owned. She wants to put a plaque on every property.

"Once [Mason] got her freedom, she didn't accept 'no' for an answer,” said Broxton. “Whatever she set out to do, she was very methodical about it. She had to be a tremendous person with strategy because nothing appears to be accidental. It all appears to be very well thought-out.”

Read more about Mason's fascinating story here.

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