Food Equity Roundtable
A unique partnership among government, philanthropy, and community-based organizations

OUR VISION

A stronger and healthier L.A. County where communities have sufficient, nutritious, culturally appropriate food supplied by a resilient and sustainable food system.

OUR VALUES

Principle 1
We believe that just and equitable access to healthy and nutritious food is a human right

Principle 2
We believe that coordinated efforts and collective impact can resolve inequities in the food system.

Principle 3
We believe disruptive innovation is a virtue. The Roundtable is an opportunity to discuss ideas, challenge norms and drive effective outcomes.

OUR MISSION

To implement cross-sector solutions to achieve food and nutrition security in L.A. County with a focus on underserved communities.

  • Enabling food justice with enhanced access, affordability, and consumption of nutritious food;
  • Advancing equitable impact of food public benefits and food distribution programs;
  • Generating political and financial support to build food systems that are resilient, sustainable, and equitable.

OUR PROGRESS TO DATE

The Roundtable’s ambitious campaign to fundamentally rethink how we tackle chronic food insecurity in Los Angeles County is nearing the halfway mark. Working together, philanthropy, government, academic and nonprofit leaders have started drafting a strategic plan that will drive lasting and meaningful change.

The final Plan will be unveiled in November. But here’s a quick look at our gains:

  • Launched seven workgroups with more than 200 community-based organizations and engaged with 100-plus food system experts nationwide to inform the Plan.
  • Formally identified 14 priority population segments that are disproportionately more vulnerable to food and nutrition insecurity, from immigrant to transgender communities.
  • Consulted with the public and private sector to identify food system enhancements to drive cost efficiencies that will support broader nutrition security.
  • Addressed gaps in the local supply chain that can help reduce food waste and enable recovery efforts
  • Analyzed mobility and transportation barriers to food security and reviewed best-practices deployed in other regions to enhance transit access.
  • Explored technology and data solutions to modernize our outdated food systems, such as USC-led portal to map all food-related resources and “last-mile” support services in underserved L.A. County neighborhoods

WHITE HOUSE CONFERENCE ON HUNGER,
NUTRITION, AND HEALTH UPDATE 

The Los Angeles County Food Equity Roundtable Director, Swati Chandrawas scheduled to be a panelist at the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. If you represent the work done on behalf of the Los Angeles County Food Equity Roundtable and wish to view the White House Conference, on 9/28 please follow this link.

LEADERSHIP IN ACTION

The Los Angeles County Food Equity Roundtable is a brand new effort to help address and track the growing food insecurity challenge in LA County.  The Roundtable, co-led by LA County and its LA-area philanthropic partners, consists of senior leadership from cross-sector organizations committed to addressing food insecurity.

THE OBJECTIVE & APPROACH

This is a two-year pilot with the objective of developing a comprehensive strategic plan to address food equity issues with a coordinated systemic approach in year one and initial implementation and assessment starting in year two. Together, as a team, the goal for the Roundtable is to develop a comprehensive strategic plan by September of 2022.

Strategic Plan

The strategic plan will be a comprehensive document with clearly defined initiatives, milestones, and outcome-driven goals. It will be a combination of initiatives we could implement in the short term while identifying policy changes to drive systematic improvement to address food insecurity among all in need.

Equity & Community Centric Approach

We aim to inform and develop an equitable plan with people at the center of planning. The Roundtable will represent the diversity and include the voices of communities most impacted by and left vulnerable to food insecurity. We will leverage research and learnings to identify target communities’ specific needs, barriers, and opportunities to inform our strategic approach.

Measurable Outcomes for Driving Social Impact

Cohesive planning by the Roundtable will help us prioritize initiatives and investments to drive maximum impact. We will establish outcome-driven goals along with setting benchmarks, performance milestones, and processes for measuring progress. By adopting a cross-sector approach to identify and address factors leading to food insecurity, we aim to drive tangible and measurable impact in addressing food insecurity.

Cross-Sector Collaboration

The Roundtable, led by the public and philanthropic sectors, aims to bring voices and ideas across the sectors and local communities together on the table. We share a common goal of making a positive impact on issues of food insecurity. Cross-sector collaboration also intends to address causal factors that lead to food insecurity to drive systematic and long-term impact. We aim to streamline efforts and resources to exponentially expand on current initiatives and identify new ones to address gaps.

Policy and Advocacy

Food Equity Roundtable will work to identify opportunities for systematic changes in the policies and execution of food programs to address inequities in access to healthy and culturally relevant food. Roundtable will identify priorities and advance those through governmental affairs and strategic communication in a non-partisan manner.

Click here to learn more about the historical trend of food insecurity in LA County.

LATEST INITIATIVES ON FOOD EQUITY

FOOD SECURITY IN LA COUNTY

What does the term “food insecurity” mean?

As per USDA, the following labels define ranges of food security:

Food Security

  • High food security (old label=Food security): no reported indications of food-access problems or limitations.
  • Marginal food security (old label=Food security): one or two reported indications—typically of anxiety over food sufficiency or shortage of food in the house. Little or no indication of changes in diets or food intake.

Food Insecurity

  • Low food security (old label=Food insecurity without hunger): reports of reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet. Little or no indication of reduced food intake.
  • Very low food security (old label=Food insecurity with hunger): reports of multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.

What are the long-term harms caused by food insecurity?

Food insecurity is often associated with hunger, but it also leads to a host of other negative physical and mental health outcomes. Children who experience food insecurity have poorer nutrition, worse general health and oral health, and a higher risk for cognitive problems, anxiety, and depression. Adults who experience food insecurity have poorer nutrition, a higher risk for obesity, diabetes, and hypertension, and greater mental health and sleep problems.

How many people suffer from food insecurity in Los Angeles County?

For the past 16 months, USC and LA County have been working together to understand the impact of COVID-19 on the ability of county residents to access food.

Under this partnership, we documented a large increase in rates of food insecurity in 2020, particularly in the early stages of the pandemic, from April to May. 

From January to June 2021, we found that 1 in 10 (10%) households of L.A. County experienced food insecurity in the past week, at some point during these 6 months. When considering low-income households only (i.e., those with incomes below 300% of the federal poverty line [FPL]), 15% experienced food insecurity, while 4% of higher-income households (≥300% of FPL) experienced food insecurity.

Which communities are most affected?

The pandemic has overwhelmingly impacted women, people with low incomes and the unemployed. Higher income groups that don’t typically struggle to afford food have also been affected. People who have experienced food insecurity during the pandemic have the following characteristics, according to a USC study:

  • Low-income (which includes un- and under-employed) – 82%
  • 18-40 years old – 59%
  • Female – 57%
  • Children in the household – 50%
  • Single parent household – 36%
  • Unemployed – 36%
  • COVID-infected -12%

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