Now, it’s time for a new program manger to pick up the torch.
SLCgreen is thrilled to welcome Brian Emerson to the role! Let us introduce you . . .
Brian Emerson has over 15 years of experience working on food and sustainability issues. He is passionate about the role cities can play in building more just and sustainable food systems, and is eager to support programs that connect social justice and community resiliency.
Brian’s career began at Wasatch Community Gardens, helping educate our communities and transform unused spaces into vibrant gardens. Since then, he has worked with Local Futures, researching different approaches to addressing food, energy, and economic needs. Brian also worked with Utahns Against Hunger, where he advocated for critical food justice and anti-poverty policies. In his role at Utahns Against Hunger, Brian witnessed the connections between equity and food access, and helped support efforts to alleviate these disparities.
Salt Lake City is committed to supporting our local food system, enhancing access to fresh, healthy, and sustainable food for our communities. Building a sustainable and resilient local food system is both an environmental concern and one rooted in social equity.
SLCgreen supports community gardens and encourages our community to eat locally and limit food waste in order to reduce our household carbon footprints. Furthermore, we recognize that a resilient environment is directly connected to social, economic, and environmental equity. A truly sustainable food system ensures access to nutritious fresh food for everyone in our community.
In 2020, the pandemic and local emergencies jeopardized food access and deepened existing social inequities. The need for food assistance increased by 300%. Food pantries, emergency programs, and mutual aid organizations work to relieve those gaps in access, but fresh and culturally relevant foods are not always readily available.
We have a new program we’d like to share with you and we’re looking for your help spreading the word to recruit applicants.
First, some context:
As part of SLCgreen’s commitment to equity and sustainability, we are beginning a new program to help residents from marginalized communities participate in how Salt Lake City tackles healthy food access.
Having the ability to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. This means that healthy food is not only available at nearby grocery stores and corner stores, but that people have the ability to get there to buy it.
Healthy food access is closely tied with income.New research is showing that “food deserts” are not just about location, but about the ability of people to afford healthy food.
These are issues that the Sustainability Department– and Salt Lake City as a whole– cares deeply about. We cannot have a healthy, thriving community if people don’t have enough to eat.
SLCgreen has developed a robust Local Food program over the past decade to increase the opportunities for growing and buying healthy, local food.
But we must do more.
There are policy, economic, communications, and structural factors at play that are still a barrier to many people in eating enough, and eating healthfully. Thankfully, there are many organizations and government agencies working on this issue, and we’re grateful for the strong community focused on food, poverty, nutrition, policy, and public health in Utah.
This year, we’re excited to dig deeper as a city department with the launch of a new program specifically around Food Access & Equity:
Whether you are a hardcore “locavore” or you just want to try eating a little more sustainably, taking the Eat Local Week Challenge will help you support the local economy, reduce your carbon footprint, and eat some delicious and nutritious food.
What is Eat Local Week?
Eat Local Week Utah challenges you to eat as locally as possible from September 7th to 14th. “Local” typically qualifies as food grown and produced within a 250 mile radius.While it may seem daunting to go without coffee for a week, thanks to the local farmers markets and the events throughout Eat Local Week, there are many ways to participate!
The week’s events include a roster of fun for the whole family starting with Wasatch Community Garden’s Tomato Sandwich Party in the Grateful Tomato Garden. The event serves up free and absolutely fresh pesto and tomato sandwiches. This week you can also support Wasatch Community Gardens and eat fresh, locally grown tomatoes at local restaurants participating in the 2019 Tomato Days.
Other festivities include the Punk Rock Farm to Taco Truck, a Local Spirit Tasting at the Downtown Caputos, and a week-long recipe contest.
Why does Salt Lake City have a food policy program? Community gardens, an incubator kitchen, pesticide free resources, farmers’ markets… it all helps foster a healthy city and flourishing economy. Watch the video and then scroll through the blog post to find more details about the programs and initiatives mentioned by our program manager Bridget Stuchly.