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10.22 Approved Minutes

CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

COMMISSION ON THE ENVIRONMENT

POLICY COMMITTEE

 

REGULAR MEETING

APPROVED MINUTES

 

Monday, October 22, 2007, 5:00 P.M.

City Hall, Room 421

One Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place

San Francisco, CA 94102

 


COMMITTEE MEMBERS:  Commissioners Johanna Wald (Chair); Ruth Gravanis and Jane MarieFrancis Martin

 

ORDER OF BUSINESS

 

1.      Call to Order and Roll Call.  The Commission on the Environment’s Policy Committee meeting was called to order at 5:08 p.m.  Present:  Commissioners Gravanis and Martin; Excused:  Chair Wald.

 

2.      Approval of Minutes of the September 18, 2007 Policy Committee Rescheduled Meeting (Discussion and Action).  Upon Motion by Commissioner Martin and second by Commissioner Gravanis, the September 18, 2007 Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (Absent:  Chair Wald). (Explanatory Document:  Approved Minutes of the September 18, 2007 Policy Committee Rescheduled Meeting).  Commissioner Gravanis indicated that a second was not required for approval. The Commission Secretary indicated that she would research the question and report back.  

 

3.      Public Comments:  Members of the public may address the Committee on matters that are within the Committee’s jurisdiction and are not on today’s agenda. 

 

Ms. Janice Sitton stated that she is interested in creating policy for City Hall and other government buildings where services or space does not exist for composting and recycling for special events. Director Blumenfeld stated that the Department of the Environment works on residential, commercial, and municipal government recycling and composting.  Two staff members work with the municipal sector and have moved most City agencies toward recycling and composting. The state also requires that there be adequate recycling for large events.  For large events, Department staff trains event coordinators and volunteers attend the events to bus the compost bins.  Department staff also works with the community and departments who rent out City Hall space to work out what the protocols are.  Ms. Sitton was asked to contact Department staff member Julie Bryant for additional information.

 

Ms. Sitton discussed the mass volume of people attending events at Golden Gate Park and the unrealistic expectation that the park be cleaned up and waste diverted two days after the event has concluded.  Ms. Sitton asked if there were any plans within policy development to create a permanent space at Golden Gate Park so the materials can be processed for special events that happen there all the time without having the need to remove it the day after the event.  Director Blumenfeld suggested that Ms. Sitton contact Ms. Bryant to help heighten the priority on allocating space in order to achieve zero waste events.

 

Ms. Sitton stated that the Food Service Waste Reduction Ordinance mandates that all products are labeled, but a lot of the products are not yet labeled.  Ms. Sitton recommended an interim solution of using certified suppliers that would ensure that standards are met.  Director Blumenfeld reported that staff member Alex Dmitriew worked with Smart and Final and Restaurant Depot to put signage in green along all of the locations where food service ware meets the ordinance.   
 

4.      Healthy and Sustainable Food Policy Development Update and Implementation of Urban Environmental Accord Action 17 Environmental Health:  Promote the public health and environmental benefits of supporting locally grown organic foods. Ensure that twenty percent of all city facilities (including schools) serve locally grown and organic food within seven years (Informational Report and Discussion).

SPONSOR:  Director Jared Blumenfeld and Commissioner Johanna Wald

SPEAKERS:  Paula Jones, Director, San Francisco Food Systems Project

                        Chris Geiger, Toxics Reduction Program, Department of the Environment

 

Director Blumenfeld reported that the Policy Committee had previously held a meeting to discuss what it would mean to implement Environmental Accord Action 17 and introduced Ms. Jones and Dr. Geiger who would be discussing a holistic food policy and draft document on the San Francisco Food Policy Systems objectives, policies and sample actions (Explanatory Document:  SF Food System Policy). 

 

Dr. Geiger stated that a San Francisco Food Systems Policy Ordinance should be created that includes environmental issues as they relate to food as well as access to healthier food. It was stated that a Food Policy would require funding.  The Sustainability Plan includes a lot of information that could be added to a food ordinance, but there is no way to implement it at this time, and there is no way to assign those tasks to anyone.

 

Ms. Jones stated there have been many years of public processes and initiatives about food that she has been a part of by committees such as the San Francisco Unified School District Nutrition and Physical Education Committee, the Food Security Task Force, the Shape Up Coalition, Green Schoolyard Alliance, San Francisco Food Alliance roundtable, and the Sustainability Plan.  It was stated that it is time to take the framework of the Sustainability Plan chapter to develop an implementation plan and pull the City’s resources to meet the goals around food and food systems. 

 

Ms. Jones discussed priorities that the San Francisco Food Systems Policy would aim to achieve that includes (see Explanatory Document above, page 1, 1-7):

 

1.      Secure healthy and nutritious food for all residents regardless of economic means.

2.      Reduce the environmental impacts of food production, transportation, consumption, and disposal.

3.      Support urban agriculture through the creation and maintenance of community, rooftop, school and kitchen gardens on arable City and County land.

4.      Support regional agriculture through direct marketing to San Francisco.

5.      Form stronger urban-rural partnerships.

6.      Increase purchases of locally produced or sustainably produced food by all City and County Departments.

7.      Educate stakeholders and the general public on nutrition, cooking, and the values of a healthy food system.

 

Ms. Jones reported that the San Francisco Food Systems Project is working on what the action items should be and are being informed by all of the years of ongoing public processes.  It was stated that there are ongoing initiatives that are forming the process; e.g., the Department of Public Health’s Sustainable Food Policy that passed in 2006 resulted in a review of institutionalized purchasing for the purposes of mitigating our environmental impacts by agencies such as Laguna Honda Hospital, San Francisco General Hospital.  It is known that more than 25% of the food that we are getting is local, but the system to track this type of information to form policy development around procurement is not in place.  Dr. Geiger stated that sales vendors would be asked to provide sales reports on the food source and how the product is certified in order to provide an opportunity to set more realistic goals.  Ms. Jones explained that there is a vendor right now that is providing information on local products (definition is within 150 miles of the Livermore facility), and a review of all of the public food service operations has been started.  It was stated that local should be clearly defined.  Ms. Jones reported on the Mayor’s Office program that provided the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) half a million dollars to start up salad bars in about 25 schools.  Ms. Jones stated that she would be meeting with the service provider and the produce company to discuss whether the food could be more seasonal, more organic, and its origin. 

 

Objectives and Policies of the Food Systems Policy were discussed 1) eliminate hunger and improve the health and nutrition of all San Franciscans, including the most vulnerable; 2) create a San Francisco food system that reduces the environmental impacts of food production, distribution and processing; (3) protect and enhance the regions farmland for the benefit of San Franciscans; and (4) monitor progress (see explanatory document).  Ms. Jones explained that the City owns a lot of buildings and rents out space to vendors that sell food. The Real Estate Department in their Request for Qualifications for the North Light Court included a section requesting that vendors respond to how they would provide sustainable food and have received some good responses.  Ms. Jones stated that San Francisco’s Food Security Task Force has issued a strategic plan on how to end hunger in our City that discusses maximizing federal food programs used to feed residents with limited resources; e.g., the National School Lunch Program, Food Stamp program, WIC.  It was explained that these are good programs; however, they are underfunded, especially in San Francisco because of the high cost of living.  Ms. Jones discussed creating matching funds to maximize these programs.

 

Dr. Geiger reported that he has had discussions with SFUSD on how miniscule their food budget is.  It was stated that there are other aspiring models that have additional funding, already have kitchens, don’t have high labor costs, or are getting subsidized through taxes for additional food. Director Blumenfeld discussed the low cost for the actual school meal in comparison to the cost for the lunch monitor, utility bill, and transportation of food.  Ms. Jones reported that obesity is linked to poverty as cheaper food is higher in fat and higher in calories, and nutritionally dense food is more expensive.  Ms. Jones discussed the need to provide ideas to create funding mechanisms, such as “adopt a school program” where the private sector pays into a fund and the Mayor’s program to have salad bars in schools.  Ms. Jones discussed an entrepreneur that has a fruit company and is trying to work out a program to solicit corporate clients to pay into a fund to include fruit in school breakfasts. 

 

Director Blumenfeld suggested creating an omnibus food policy ordinance with the objectives as the framework and then to develop policies that are in alignment with the goals.  It was recommended that one ordinance be created with as much specificity as possible and then have companion pieces of legislation on different subject matters.  A discussion was held on which code the ordinance would fit into and what agencies would have the most jurisdiction.  Ms. Jones reported that there are other agencies involved in food policy work such as the Department of Children, Youth and their Families, Human Services, Mayor’s Office of Community Development, Department of Public Health, and the Department of Public Works who is creating an edible schoolyard at Log Cabin Ranch.  It was stated that we have to be cognizant that any policy that is put on public procurement has to come with funding.  The City can work on public food service agencies such as jails, Juvenile Hall, and public hospitals.  We cannot mandate what SFUSD does, but we can support it. 

 

Ms. Jones reported that a presentation on the Food Systems Policy is scheduled for a Health Commission meeting in the next couple of weeks.  A presentation would then be made to the Food Security Task Force and the Nutrition Committee of the Unified School District.  In addition there would be a lot of stakeholder meetings.  Ms. Jones stated that an Interagency Sustainable Food Working Group has had a lot of meetings with stakeholders and is meeting on these issues regularly.

 

Commissioner Gravanis asked if fast food restaurants would be required to post ingredients and the nutritional content of their food.  Ms. Jones explained that fast food restaurants already do have this information available due to an environmental health policy, but it needs to be made stronger and more visible. 

 

Commissioner Martin discussed how to set criteria for promoting the use of City-owned land for sustainable agricultural production.  A discussion was held on the Department of Public Works availability of 400 acres of unaccepted streets and interest in those parcels being used for a community garden or urban farming.  It was explained that the San Francisco Parks Trust is becoming a custodian of those lands.  Director Blumenfeld recommended working on language for legislation to help make this happen.  Dr. Geiger asked for the Commission’s ideas on funding, incentives, and structure for the food policy.  Commissioner Martin stated that the best way to start is by putting something in place sooner than later and then deal with the specifics.

 

Public Comment:

 

Ms. Noelle Ferdon, Food and Water Watch, a consumer advocacy group providing consumer and legislative campaigns around food and water issues.  Ms. Ferdon spoke in support of a more localized food system, working with local farms, and purchasing local organic food.  It was stated that there are reports that if you are purchasing produce that hasn’t traveled 1500 miles and is picked more prime and seasonal, it is going to be more nutrient-dense.   Ms. Ferdon stated that one of the priorities of the food policy is to increase urban rural partnerships and explained that the best way would be to educate youth in the school system about where their food comes from.  Suggestions were to help connect children with farms, taking them outside of the city to visit rural communities and farms, and educating them that farming can actually be an occupation.  Ms. Ferdon stated that we are losing farms on an increasing basis and becoming more dependent on exported food. 

 

It was recommended that municipalities provide funding to help schools increase health standards.  Ms. Ferdon explained that Food and Water Watch produces a variety of campaigns and could educate consumers to be supportive of a policy change.  Ms. Ferdon stated that the California Alliance of Family Farmers (CAFF) has just started a distribution program to distribute locally farmed foods to schools and institutions.  Director Blumenfeld asked if there are other cities with a comprehensive food policy in place.  Ms. Ferdon stated that she would follow up on this question.

 

Ms. Aliza Wasserman, Community Alliance of Family Farmers (CAFF), reported that CAFF represents small and medium farmers throughout California and runs a local food distribution organization.  Ms. Wasserman spoke in support of the food policy and discussed (1) the need for local food branding and guidelines for disclosure on source verification; (2) adding importance to small and diversified farming; (3) suggested a corporate tax on unhealthful food companies and a food sales tax to fund healthful food for the entire city; (4) diverting the food budget towards local fresh food instead of beef and poultry which is more expensive;  (5) communicating healthful consumption values through the Harvest of the Month program; and (6) Climate Action Plan paragraph that states that regional distribution is an option for reducing carbon emissions.  Ms. Jones stated that Harvest of the Month is being implemented in San Francisco and the salad bar program is researching how to link to the program. 

 

The Commission Secretary reported that Mr. Steve KoneffKlatt, Assistant Administrator at Laguna Honda Hospital submitted public comment on the food policy that were provided to Committee members and are available at the Commission Office upon request.  Mr. KoneffKlatt’s email discussed (1) Laguna Honda Hospital’s providing wholesome and nutritious foods to its residents and their adherence to guidelines and regulations established by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the California State Health Department, Department of Public Health, the American Dietetic Association, and Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Hospitals and Healthcare Organizations; (2) discussion on organic versus sustainable foods; and (3) benefits of fruits and vegetables whether they are organically grown or not. 

 

Director Blumenfeld recommended that definitions be provided on what we mean by small and local, what we mean by diversified, etc.  The Issue of disclosure could be central to an omnibus bill, and some of the other issues would be better for future ordinances.  Commissioner Martin discussed the tremendous amount of petroleum used in farming beside transportation and the importance of acting on that aspect.  Commissioner Martin suggested that irrigation methods and dry farming techniques be used versus vast spraying.  Commissioner Gravanis suggested defining what the environmental impacts are and measuring and monitoring.  Commissioner Martin discussed air pollution in farming practices and environmental health impacts of production practices. 

 

Ms. Jones reported on the Food Security Task Force's report on Food Security and the 2005 San Francisco Collaborative Food System Assessment.

 

This agenda item would be brought back to the Policy Committee for discussion at a future meeting.      

5.      New Business/Future Agenda Items (Information and Discussion).  The Commission Secretary reported that the November 19 agenda would include a discussion on congestion pricing and a presentation/update on the Waste Water Master Plan.  Commissioner Martin requested that Ms. Rosey Jencks present on Low Impact Design Strategies as part of the Waste Water Master Plan presentation.  Commissioner Martin requested that a discussion be held at a future meeting on the City’s use of land and its relationship to “best use of public assets.”  Commissioner Gravanis requested a future discussion on how it is determined which agenda items are heard at either the Operations or Policy Committees and requested that an agenda item on “Announcements” be added for each Commission/Committee agenda.  Commissioner Gravanis indicated that Commission meetings were not readily visible on the website and was referred to the Outreach Program Manager, Mark Westlund.

 

6.      Public Comments:  Members of the public may address the Committee on matters that are within the Committee’s jurisdiction and are not on today’s agenda. There was no public comment at this time.

 

7.      Adjournment.  The Policy Committee meeting adjourned at 6:33 p.m.

 

Due to a City-recognized holiday, the next Meeting of the Policy Committee has been rescheduled from Monday, November 12, 2007 to Monday, November 19, 2007 at 5:00 p.m., Room 421, City Hall.

 

Monica Fish, Commission Secretary

TEL:  (415) 355-3709; FAX: (415) 554-6393

 

** Copies of explanatory documents are available at (1) the Commission’s office, 11 Grove Street, San Francisco, California between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., (2) on the Committee’s website https://sites.google.com/a/sfenvironment.org/commission/policy-committee as attachments to the meeting agenda or minutes, (3) upon request to the Commission Secretary, at telephone number 415-355-3709, or via e-mail at Monica.Fish@sfgov.org.

 

Approved: November 19, 2007

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