My Dear Friends:
I want to thank all of you who took the time to participate in the CFJC Policy Priorities Survey we conducted over the past month.
As you know, CFJC is engaged in policy discussions at many levels. In addition to hosting our monthly Public Policy Calls, at the local level we conduct workshops in partnership with groups like the Environmental Affairs Board at UCSB, and the Hunger Action Coalition in San Diego. We partner with CalCAN and the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network to conduct regional workshops around the state. And nationally, we work with the Healthy Farms, Healthy People Coalition and D.C. based GOAT (Getting Our Act Together) collaboration, among others.
All of these efforts have the express objective of making sure the concerns of local California communities are heard, and to the best of our abilities, addressed.
We learn about those concerns via the activities listed above, but also by taking heed of the comments you provided in Policy Priority Surveys.
Here’s a sampling of what we learned from your most recent survey responses:
• 58% of respondents ranked healthy food access as one of their top food system priorities.
• 40% ranked food justice and local and regional food system infrastructure as their top priorities.
• Other priorities listed include rural agriculture, urban agriculture, land access, climate change, grassroots and community engagement in the policy process, farm and food worker rights, and small farm supports.
• The policies that respondents wanted most to advocate for are the 2012 Farm Bill, the Local Farm, Food and Jobs Act, and the CA Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act.
• Other policies cited included the Healthy Food Financing Initiative, Child Nutrition Act, Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Opportunity Act and Cottage Law.
• Most survey respondents think CFJC should use a full array of strategies to advocate for policies, with generating phone calls the least important or effective—except when encouraging members to call legislators and “jam the phone lines.”
We are still analyzing the data but so far the message seems to be clear and is consistent with what we hear in communities across the state:
CFJC members want to change the status quo.
We also heard from a number of people who want more information on the policy options we cited in the survey questions, and I think that is a good thing. Therefore, while a survey isn’t the place to lay out the details of policy options, we will continue to hold educational workshops and briefings and explore other methods to provide such information wherever possible.
Again, your direct responses and input to CFJC provides the basis for the work we will be undertaking in the coming year.
There is a lot going on in all of our lives, and what is happening in the country and world around us seems to have an inordinate amount of influence on how we experience our lives.
There is a presidential election, still in the primary caucus and election cycle, but could it get any more wild? Sadly, I fear the answer is, “yes.”
At CFJC and in households and communities around the state and around the country, the bottom line is being defined at kitchen tables. Households and families are deciding what is most important in spite of the cacophony of politicians seeking public office.
I am grateful to be part of the solution and not the uproar, working shoulder to shoulder with individuals and groups doing their best to fix what is wrong and not working with our food, social and economic systems.
Thank you for your commitment as well.
And yes, if you can, please consider making a contribution to help CFJC continue working on your behalf.
All the best.
Y. Armando Nieto
California Food and Justice Coalition