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Move to Address Hunger, Food Deserts & Swamps in L.A. Takes a Step Foward

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One of L.A.'s food policy initiatives is the task force, which is expected to present its report on Thursday (see more photos here) | Photo by Lindsay William-Ross/LAist

One of L.A.'s food policy initiatives is the task force, which is expected to present its report on Thursday (see more photos here) | Photo by Lindsay William-Ross/LAist
Los Angeles currently has a handful of food policy initiatives in the works and today one of them took a step forward. Last November, Councilman Paul Koretz introduced a motion based on a blueprint to end hunger (.pdf) in Los Angeles County published by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, which called attention to the local hunger problem, food insecurity and lack of access to fresh and healthy foods.

"A number of Los Angeles communities are known as 'food deserts' (communities that lack access to a major supermarket) or "food swamps" (communities surrounded by a glut of energy-dense but nutrient poor foods) where a disproportionately high percentage of residents suffering from chronic, preventable diet-related diseases, including diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity," noted Koretz in his motion.

In a report (.pdf), the city's Chief Legislative Analyst explained that "the Blueprint consists of an action plan which sets forth three primary goals which the authors believe create a matrix of solutions that would not only end hunger, but would also lead to sustainable food, food distribution systems and nutrition-based health." The analysis concludes that the city's current efforts address the three goals, even though it admits "there is room for expansion and improvement."

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Current efforts include an attempt at updating an antiquated law that stops urban farmers from selling food, a food policy taskforce initiated by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a resolution declaring the city's "intention that Los Angeles become a Hunger-Free Community" and an adopted policy requiring city departments like the Convention Center to donate surplus food to local food banks, pantries or other service agencies.

Today's report was presented and moved forth by Councilmember Richard Alarcon in the Jobs and Business Development Committee. It will be presented at future meetings for more input.

The hunger problem is not isolated. It's such a widespread problem in California, in fact, that UCS's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism has teamed up with California Watch at the Center for Investigative Reporting to produce a multiedia project called Hunger in the Golden State.

Previously on LAist: Nearly 10% of L.A. County Residents in Need of Food Assistance