New food vision

Minneapolis prioritizes food justice and healthy food access in new plan


Minneapolis has a 10-year path to establish a more resilient, just, and equitable food system in the city.
The Minneapolis Food Vision (MFV) plan prioritizes six goals that are focused on local food supply, urban agriculture, local food business, healthy food access and skills, food waste, and food systems research and outreach. By implementing the plan, according to the vision, “Minneapolis residents, community-serving organizations, and city government can partner to make sure our food system is healthy, affordable, equitable, profitable, and good for people and the environment.”
“I am excited that the Minneapolis City Council has unanimously approved the Minneapolis Food Vision,” said DeVon Nolan, a member of the Minneapolis Food Council and northside resident who has been shepherding the plan’s development since 2019. “The Food Vision is a blueprint built in partnership with community to help foster a more equitable local food system.”
Created as part of the Homegrown Minneapolis initiative that launched in 2008 as a priority of former Mayor R.T. Rybak, the MFV will be a companion plan to the forthcoming Climate Equity Plan, and is part of a global effort that includes over 200 cities worldwide who have signed the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact.
Minneapolis signed the Milan Pact in 2017 and started work on the Minneapolis Food Vision the next year, in 2018.
Since then, the food council and city health department staff have conducted in-person and online events. They partnered with the University of Minnesota, Princeton University, Appetite for Change, Advancement of Hmong Americans, Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio (CLUES), Harvest from the Heart, and the Somali American Farmers Association to support the development of the vision. Funders included the National Science Foundation, the Sustainable Healthy Cities initiative, and the City of Minneapolis’s Health Department.
“I’m proud to say that over 1,000 people were involved in the development of the Minneapolis Food Vision,” said Health Department Homegrown Minneapolis Manager Alison Babb. She said that work on the plan slowed down during the pandemic but picked up again in 2021. Work on food justice principles, priority areas, and strategies were the focus of food council meetings, community focus groups, interviews with food experts, and six online events. “In February of 2022 we launched an online survey,” Babb said, “that helped us further refine recommendations.”

History of inequity
The plan identifies a legacy of historic inequities in Minneapolis and racial inequality is part of Minneapolis’ food system. It notes that “Just and equitable access to affordable, healthy, culturally relevant foods varies across the city, which is one domino effect from these structural practices put in place many decades ago.”
This may be why the plan defines seven “food justice principals” to serve as the foundation and guide for both what will be worked on, as well as how that work will be done.
A variety of specific strategies are outlined to support each of the six goals in the plan. Examples of these include: provide funding and support to connect local production and local consumption; increase the purchase of locally and sustainably grown foods by institutions and businesses within the city; improve land access in the city for growers and year-round growing; improve conditions for food system workers and small businesses; improve access to affordable, nutritious, locally-grown and culturally-relevant foods; change policies to better connect excess food and those in need; and, raise awareness of food system activities and research.

10-year implementation
While the plan has a 10-year time frame, implementation will be done in stages. “We will be starting out with a one to two-year implementation plan,” said Babb. “There will be three work groups around priorities that the food council has determined to be both important and the most exciting to work on.” These workgroups will be, first, on local food procurement; second, on land access and season extensions for growing food in the city; and, third, on fostering healthy food skills. The workgroups will include community members, as well as staff and food council members.
The plan may already be influencing recommendations about city policy. This spring, the food council will be submitting comments on the land use regulations that will be considered by the city council and mayor later year. “The food council voted at their last meeting,” said Babb, “to submit a series of comments related to season extensions as it relates to deep winter green houses and regular green houses, as well as hoop houses.”
Both Babb and Nolan recognize that while approving the plan is an essential step, implementation will take ongoing commitment, work and money.
“Implementation of the Minneapolis Food Vision will take action from the community and resources from the city, the business community and our philanthropic partners,” said Nolan. “I look forward to working with city leaders to obtain the investment needed to bring parts of this vision to life.”


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