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Food Alliance Seeks Paradigm Shift For San Diego's Food Supply

A shopper wearing a face mask and gloves surveys produce at the Hillcrest Farmers Market, April 19, 2020.
Andrew Bowen
A shopper wearing a face mask and gloves surveys produce at the Hillcrest Farmers Market, April 19, 2020.
A consortium of more than 100 organizations in San Diego is working on a plan — a kind of paradigm shift — a new vision of how to make sustainable food sources more available to all San Diegans.

A consortium of more than 100 organizations in San Diego is working on a plan — a kind of paradigm shift — a new vision of how to make sustainable food sources more available to all San Diegans. The group wants your feedback on the plan before Thanksgiving.

Sona Desai, Associate Director of the San Diego Food System Alliance, said the numbers of San Diegans having trouble getting healthy food has doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before the pandemic, the county estimated one in seven San Diegans experienced food insecurity. That translated to almost half a million people. Desai said current estimates suggest around a million people, or one in three San Diegans, are experiencing food insecurity this year.

Food Banks are part of the solution, Desai said, but also important is developing more local sources of healthy food, encouraging local farmers and fisheries to keep producing fresh food. She said shopping at farmers' markets and buying take-out from local restaurants is a key way to help the local food economy, which employs hundreds of thousands of San Diegans. An estimated 50,000 food industry jobs have been lost during the pandemic, she said.

San Diegans can also make the most of the food supply by avoiding avoid food waste. Desai said estimates before the pandemic suggested San Diegans waste 500,000 pounds of food a year. New policies are encouraging less waste, food diversion or composting to keep it out of the landfill.

The San Diego Food Alliance has been collecting input from the community and now has a survey online, with dozens of ideas of ways to promote a more sustainable food system in San Diego. The final step before producing a report is to collect input on which of those ideas should be a top priority in future efforts to make healthy food more available to all San Diegans.

Once the input is prioritized, the Alliance plans to start mobilizing to make the vision a reality.

Input is invited at this link.