Date: February 1, 2021
Today, the DC Food Policy Council (FPC) applauds Mayor Bowser and the Office of the Deputy Mayor of Planning and Economic Development’s announcement of approximately $5,185,000 for the FY 2021 DC Local Equity, Access and Preservation Funds (DC LEAF). In particular, the FPC celebrates the Nourish DC Fund within DC LEAF, an initiative that the FPC has advocated for since 2019 that will support DC small food businesses and entrepreneurs expanding food access in communities where structural racism and disinvestment have led to low food access.
The District will provide up to $1 million in public funding for the Nourish DC Fund to a partnering fund manager (a Community Development Financial Institution or Community Benefit Organization). The Fund will provide a combination of grants, loans, and technical assistance to local food businesses in underserved communities, with a preference for businesses owned by residents of these communities.
“This is a marvelous example of what can happen when the community and the government collaborate to solve a longstanding problem,” said Beverley Wheeler, Co-Chair of the FPC’s Food Access & Equity Working Group and Executive Director of DC Hunger Solutions. Through community meetings, meals, and listening sessions, the FPC has heard the unified demands for more fresh food, high quality jobs, and wealth-building and ownership opportunities in the District’s underserved communities, particularly through supporting Black and Latinx small business owners and entrepreneurs. The FPC has responded to those demands and has advocated for the last several years for the creation of a city initiative focused on increasing food access through investing in community ownership. The COVID-19 public health emergency has further heightened the need for more equitable economic opportunities and access to healthy, affordable food in every DC neighborhood.
The FPC will now turn to ensuring that this Fund is implemented equitably and effectively. Once a Fund Manager is selected, the FPC will work closely with them to receive community feedback and assist local businesses to apply to the Fund. The FPC also commits to continuing to push for policy changes to address structural racism in the food system and the resulting health and economic inequities for District residents. But today the FPC celebrates this collective achievement that our community has worked towards. Thank you for your continued guidance, advocacy, and support. The FPC welcomes all those who care about the DC food system to join us in our future work.
The DC Food Policy Council
Date: February 1, 2021