USDA Local Food Promotion Program

Our BIG vision is an environmentally sustainable, economically viable and socially just local food system in Solano County.

In September 2017, Sustainable Solano was awarded a 15-month Local Food Promotion Program planning grant by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which supported projects that increase access to and consumption of local food.  Sustainable Solano’s project was to assess the feasibility of “Community Food Centers” in each of Solano’s seven major cities. These centers would serve as hubs for local food activities: CSA deliveries, cooking classes, community education and large kitchens where chefs and community members could prepare wholesome, nutritious meals. We envisioned these food centers as places that brought communities together, increased access to seasonal, locally produced foods and ultimately provided better health and well-being for residents across Solano County.

 Meeting with the farmers in October

To accomplish this, Sustainable Solano formed a Local Food Advisory Board, composed of a wide range of stakeholders from across the county, including local farmers and representatives from UC Davis, Solano County Department of Agriculture and Solano Public Health. While the USDA grant period is over, the Local Food Advisory Board is enthusiastic about continuing this work and has agreed to become the foundation of a Solano Local Food System Alliance to build a food system that is environmentally sustainable, economically viable and socially just.  We held four meetings with this group over the course of the project.

Led by our partners at UC Davis, the Feasibility Study found that Solano County is not currently ready for Community Food Centers due to weak supply, weak end-consumer demand and a variety of other factors. Recommendations include linking farmers to institutional customers first, building public awareness/education around local food in the county, continuing to build a coalition among stakeholders and promoting policies that can better connect our farmers with their surrounding communities. Instead of developing a business plan for Community Food Centers, we have developed a Strategic Plan of Action to further our vision of a functioning local food system in Solano County.

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Funding for the Solano Community Food Centers planning project was made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service through grant number AM170100XXXXG149. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA.