Green Food Purchasing Amendment Act of 2020

Introduction

The District has a long history of advancing policies to help mitigate the city’s impact on climate change through recycling, waste diversion, energy efficiency, carbon neutrality, and the Good Food Purchasing Program. One third of global greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to the agriculture sector and therefore the District’s food and beverage purchasing contributes to its carbon footprint.[1] Indeed, the District purchases over $70 million worth of food and beverages every year to supply agencies like DC Public Schools, Department of Parks and Recreation, Department of Aging and Community Living, and other agencies that provide meals to residents. In recent years, entities as diverse as the City of Toronto, World Bank, Hilton, University of Maryland, and the Oakland Unified School District have made commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from purchasing by 25% by 2030. In particular, the Oakland Unified School District, which focused on creating low-carbon foods for school menus, resulted in a 14% reduction in carbon over 2 years of implementation.[2]

What does this bill do?

The Green Food Purchasing Amendment Act of 2020, introduced on October 21, 2020, is intended to reduce the District’s carbon footprint from the food and beverages it purchases. The legislation proposes the following:

  1. Requires the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) to adopt a methodology to estimate greenhouse gas emissions associated with the District’s food and beverage purchases;
  2. Requires DOEE to use this methodology to establish a baseline assessment of the overall annual greenhouse gas emissions associated with the District’s food and beverage purchases;
  3. Establishes a reduction schedule for greenhouse gas emissions associated with the District’s food and beverage purchases with the goal of a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by Fiscal Year 2030;
  4. Requires DOEE to establish best practices for District agencies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with food and beverage purchases and requires these agencies to preference foods, beverages, and procurement practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
  5. Requires DOEE to publish an annual report on its progress to meet the goals of the legislation; and
  6. Requires DOEE to publish a report on how the District can reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with other goods and services purchased by the District.

The Green Food Purchasing Amendment Act of 2020 gives DOEE the authority to allow agencies to exclude purchases that do not exceed $10,000 from the requirements of this bill. The bill also exempts agencies participating in the Good Food Purchasing Program, like DC Public Schools, that are already demonstrating improvement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

How can I give input on this bill?

The DC Council’s Committee on Transportation and the Environment has scheduled a virtual public hearing on Tuesday, December 8th, 2020 from 3-6pm. For calendar reminders and ways to watch online or on TV, visit: https://dccouncil.us/event/transportation-the-environment-public-hearing-11/

Anyone can testify on this bill, even if you are not a DC resident. Anyone wishing to testify should contact Ms. Aukima Benjamin, the Staff Assistant to the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, by phone at (202) 724-8062 or via e-mail at abenjamin@dccouncil.us. Please provide your name and indicate the hearing you wish to testify at. If you are testifying on behalf of an organization, please provide your organizational affiliation and title with the organization. It is helpful, but not required, to submit your testimony in writing as well; you can do so anytime until the record closes on December 22, 2020.

As an individual, you will have 3 minutes to speak, and if you represent an organization or business, you may have up to 5 minutes. Written testimony can be as long as you’d like, but what you say to the Council needs to fit in those time frames. Remember that one page of double-spaced text (about 250 words) takes about 2 minutes to read aloud, so we recommend planning your remarks accordingly. After you testify, Councilmembers may ask follow-up questions about your testimony and why you care about the issue.

In terms of structuring your testimony, we recommend:

  1. Thanking Committee Chair Cheh for convening this hearing and considering this bill;
  2. Briefly introducing yourself and/or your organization/business;
  3. Explaining why you care about the impact of the District’s food and beverage purchases on climate change;
  4. Explaining how one or more pieces of this bill will make a difference to you, your organization, or your community;
  5. Expressing any concerns you might have about this bill;
  6. Close by thanking the Councilmember(s) for listening and re-stating clearly whether you think the Council should make this legislation a law in DC.

Be sure to practice reading your testimony aloud before the hearing and time how long it takes you. Practicing will help stay within the time limits and make your points clearly and succinctly.

What can I do if I can’t testify that day?

You can still submit written testimony to Ms. Aukima Benjamin, the Staff Assistant to the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, at abenjamin@dccounil.us any time before 5pm on December 22, 2020. You may also leave a voicemail testimony for the Committee by calling (202) 350-1344. When leaving a voicemail, please speak slowly and clearly and state your full name, organization (if any affiliation), and the bill for which you are providing testimony. Please DO NOT provide an e-mail, phone number, or other contact information in your voicemail testimony.

Any other questions? Please direct any questions or concerns to dcfoodpolicy@dc.gov.


[1] Garnett, T. (2011). Where are the best opportunities for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the food system (including the food chain)?. Food policy, 36, S23-S32.

[2] Hamerschlag, K & Kraus-Polk, J. (2017). Shrinking the Carbon and Water Footprint of School Food: A Recipe for Combating Climate Change, A pilot analysis of Oakland Unified School District’s Food Programs. https://foe.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/webiva_fs_2/FOE_FoodPrintReport_7F.pdf


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