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City of Berkeley
Food and Nutrition Policy


The purpose of the City of Berkeley Food and Nutrition Policy is to help build a more complete local food system based on sustainable regional agriculture that fosters the local economy and assures that all people of Berkeley have access to healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate food.


The City Council recognizes the opportunity to contribute to the conditions in which optimal personal, environmental, social, and economic health can be achieved through a comprehensive food policy. The City Council also recognizes that the sharing of food is a fundamental human experience; a way of nurturing and celebrating diverse cultures, thereby building community and strengthening inter-generational bonds.

Council will direct City staff, in collaboration with the Berkeley Food Policy Council and other community groups, to take the necessary steps within the resources available to work toward the achievement of the Food and Nutrition Policy goals in:

"City of Berkeley programs involving the regular preparation and serving of food and snacks in youth centers, senior centers, summer camp programs, City jail, and other similar programs.

"Food purchased by all City of Berkeley programs and staff for meetings, special events, etc."

"Other City-funded programs and sites interested in voluntary participation in policy implementation.

City staff from the Chronic Disease Prevention Program in the Public Health Division of the Department of Health and Human Services will coordinate the implementation of the Food and Nutrition Policy through the following activities: 1) promoting awareness of the policy and information on implementation strategies; 2) providing technical assistance to City programs working on implementation through collaboration with community groups and agencies such as the Food Policy Council; 3) monitoring implementation and reporting on progress; 4) coordinating outreach and education promoting voluntary participation in policy implementation to City residents, non-profit agencies, government agencies, businesses and other groups.

In addition, Council supports the City's role as a model promoter of healthy food and a sustainable and diverse food system and encourages other public agencies, private sector businesses, and non-profit agencies to adopt relevant portions of the policy.

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1. Ensure that the food served in City programs shall, within the fiscal resources available:

  • be nutritious, fresh, and reflective of Berkeley's cultural diversity

  • be from regionally grown or processed sources to the maximum extent possible

  • be organic (as defined by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program regulations) to the maximum extent possible

  • not come from sources that utilize excessive antibiotics, bovine growth hormones, irradiation, or transgenic modification of organisms until such time as the practice is proven to enhance the local food system [1]

2. Utilize a preventive approach to nutrition-related health problems.

3. Improve the availability of food to Berkeley residents in need.

4. Promote urban agriculture throughout the City.

5. Support regional small scale, sustainable agriculture that is environmentally sound, economically viable, socially responsible, and non-exploitative.

6. Strengthen economic and social linkages between urban consumers and regional small-scale farms.

7. Maximize the preservation of regional farmland and crop diversity.

8. Provide community information so residents may make informed choices about food and nutrition and encourage public participation in the development of policies and programs

9. Coordinate with other cities, counties, state and federal government and other sectors on nutrition and food system issues.

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A. Local and Regional Food Systems

1. Purchase fresh food from nearby and regional farms, gardens and food processors as a first priority, when affordable, readily available, and when quality standards are maintained.

2. Purchase prepared or processed foods from nearby, small businesses that procure ingredients from regional organic farmers and food processors to the maximum extent possible.

3. Support cooperatives, bartering, buying clubs, local currencies and other non-traditional payment mechanisms for purchasing regionally and sustainably grown food.

4. Join with neighboring food shed municipalities, county governments and organizations in the purchase of agricultural conservation easements [2] in neighboring rural communities where feasible.

5. Promote ecologically sound food cultivation in public and private spaces throughout Berkeley.

B. Equitable Access to Nutritious Food

1. Increase access to affordable fruits, vegetables and healthy foods for all Berkeley residents through support of farmer’s markets, community supported agriculture, produce stands and other farm to neighborhood marketing strategies.

2. Promote neighborhood-based food production, processing, warehousing, distribution, and marketing.

3. Improve public transportation that increases access to food shopping, especially in highly transit dependent communities.

4. Assist low-income residents in accessing available emergency and subsidized food sources.

5. Where feasible, make City-owned kitchen facilities available to community-based groups to provide nutrition education and increased access to healthy foods for residents.

C. Public Policy

1. Advocate for food labeling laws, and request that federal and state representatives support legislation that will clearly label food products that have been irradiated, transgenically modified or have been exposed to bovine growth hormones.

2. Promote the use of the Precautionary Principle in agriculture and food issues to ensure the environment is not degraded and Berkeley residents are not exposed to environmental or health hazards in the production and availability of local foods.

3. Work with media to offset unhealthy eating messages and to promote activities that alter public opinion in ways that will support policy initiatives that promote the public's health.

4. Support state and local initiatives, including research, which provide clear, concise, accurate, culturally appropriate messages about food and healthful eating patterns.

5. Advocate for federal and state programs that increase access to nutritious food for low-income residents.

6. Foster regional food production through support for initiatives that assist nearby farms, gardens, distributors and neighborhood stores.

7. Advocate for local, state and federal actions that support implementation of the City of Berkeley Food and Nutrition Policy.

D. Public Outreach and Education

1. Conduct outreach to a wide range of stakeholders in the food system through support of regular public events such as festivals of regional food, resource guide on the regional food system, publicizing community supported agriculture (CSA) options, and farmers' markets.

2. Provide training to appropriate City staff on basic nutrition, nutrition education, and the benefits of organic and regional sustainable agriculture.

3. Provide accurate, ongoing, and culturally appropriate nutrition education messages to residents that are tailored to their individual needs and that consider the whole health of individuals, including emotional, mental and environmental health as well as social-well-being.

4. Increase resident skills in consumer literacy, reading labels, analyzing conflicting healthy eating and weight loss messages, meal planning, cooking, and shopping for nutritious foods.

5. Conduct citywide culturally specific social marketing activities promoting nutritious food choices.

6. Increase food system literacy among residents on issues such as the environmental and social impact of synthetic biocides (fungicides, pesticides, and herbicides), large-scale industrial farming, and patenting of life forms.

7. Provide training to residents and community groups in backyard, container, and rooftop gardening techniques.

8. Provide information to residents on the impact of open-air propagation of transgenically modified plants and the use of synthetic biocides.

9. Outreach to neighborhood stores to promote the availability of a variety of fresh, affordable regional and organic produce.

E. Berkeley Food Policy Council

The Berkeley Food Policy Council, a community group in existence since May, 1999, consisting of a wide range of Berkeley residents and agency providers and open to all interested persons, shall serve in an advisory capacity to the Department of Health and Human Services and City Council on food issues and provide a forum to discuss food-related topics of concern to the community.

The Berkeley Food Policy Council shall meet at least six times a year at hours convenient for public participation. The Berkeley Food Policy Council will provide technical assistance to City programs, staff and community groups in the implementation of this Food and Nutrition Policy and subsequent recommendations.

[1] While existing research indicates that food grown and processed utilizing these practices may have risks that are at acceptable levels for human consumption and there are some positive consequences of their use, it is the negative social and ecological consequences of the advancement of such technologies that prompt their exclusion in this policy.

[2] Purchase of agricultural conservation easement programs compensate property owners for permanently limiting non-agricultural land uses. Selling an easement allows farmers to cash in a percentage of the equity in their land, thus creating a financially competitive alternative to development. After selling an easement, the landowner retains all other rights of ownership, including the right to farm the land, prevent trespass, sell, bequeath or otherwise transfer the land.

[3] In contrast to the Risk Management Principle that weighs hypothetical outcomes and determines hypothetical manageability of risk, the Precautionary Principle states that a practice must be proven to be safe in order to be allowed. Where risk is indeterminable and recall is questionable, as in the case of transgenically modified organisms and genetically engineered seeds and substances, the Precautionary Principle is becoming the standard of choice in policy development.