How the District grows, sells, eats, and disposes of food has far-reaching effects on our communities, health, and sustainability. Despite the strides Washington has made in the last decade towards increasing healthy food access in underserved communities, more than one in ten of the District’s residents still have difficulty accessing healthy, affordable food. The District has expanded the number of urban farms and community gardens that provide community spaces and fresh food to residents—but still, disparities in food access and diet-related chronic diseases persist.
We know Washington, DC can further advance policies and programs that improve the District’s food system and strengthen healthy food access for all residents. These Sustainable DC 2.0 food goals leverage the District’s food policy infrastructure and momentum to catalyze innovative approaches to ensuring a healthier, more equitable, and sustainable food system.
Sustainable DC 2.0’s actions on the food system have real benefits for Washington, DC at all levels:
Individual: Making healthy, fresh food available and affordable for all District residents can help residents improve their health and well-being. Research shows that a nutritious diet can alleviate risk for chronic diseases like diabetes, help children learn and behave better in school, and improve people’s quality of life.
Neighborhood: A thriving community-driven food system contributes to increased community connectivity and ownership. Community gardens and farmers markets offer public spaces where neighbors can gather, share growing tips and recipes, and leave with healthy food for themselves and their families. Grocery stores and locally-owned restaurants offer employment for residents as well as fresh food and the opportunity to sample the ethnic foods that represent our diverse population.
District: Providing healthy meals to kids in school, ensuring that every community has access to healthy food, and creating fair, sustainable jobs in the food sector all provide pathways to the middle class for District residents. Decreasing Washington, DC’s food waste also makes more healthy food available for consumption and decreases the District’s carbon footprint. A healthy city is a resilient city, and a thriving food system is necessary to meet the District’s goals.
Sustainable DC Food Goals
- Expand agricultural uses and production within the District
- Ensure that all residents have access to affordable, quality, and nutritious food
- Develop and support the food industry as a vibrant and equitable sector of the local economy.
- Prevent, reduce, and recover food waste.
Where We Are
District Government leaders and nonprofits are focused on addressing the inequitable supply of fresh, healthy food in the District. The DC Food Policy Director and Food Policy Council, both created by legislation in 2014, have named expanding fresh food access in Wards 7 and 8 as their top policy priority. The District Government is also providing tax credits and free property leases to incentivize urban farming, with a new Office of Urban Agriculture in the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE). DC Health provides significant grant funding to support federal and local programs that increase healthy food access, especially for pregnant women, infants, children and seniors. These programs include WIC, Produce Plus, Joyful Markets, and Healthy Corner Stores. And, DCPS and charter school students are learning about the importance of healthy eating through hands-on nutrition and cooking education programs and 134 active school gardens.
The Food goals also connect to goals in Economy, Waste, Transportation, Education, and Climate.
Read the entire Food section below, or read the whole plan here.
Learn about the work of the DOEE Office of Urban Agriculture and the DC Food Policy Council.
Interested in creating or finding a career in these fields? Read more about available jobs and job training pathways here.
Want to volunteer with SDC as we work towards sustainability in our food system? Find out how here.
xl: US Department of Agriculture, Household Food Security in the United States in 2017, as cited in Sustainable DC 2.0.