Food Security Jobs

Poverty Reduction Strategy no. 7

Create jobs by supporting low-income food entrepreneurs and increasing local food self-sufficiency. This may include urban agriculture, shared kitchens combined with hands-on training, business development, and technical assistance.

Enable local food self-sufficiency while creating jobs

Patronizing local disadvantaged food-related businesses through local spending has the potential to create jobs and increase access to healthy foods. In Detroit, Michigan diverting 5% of average household food expenses to local disadvantaged businesses has the potential to create 985 jobs.

Action: Increase the portion of household food expenses that are spent at local disadvantaged businesses. Design a buy local campaign and use local vendors for city led events.

Additional Benefits: Increased local jobs, healthy food choices, and reduced emissions from the transport of food.

Stakeholders: Entrepreneurs, consumers, local health departments, food-related non-profits, chambers of commerce, community development financing institutions.

Where it’s been done: Michigan's cottage industry law exempts home-based food entrepreneurs making less than $25,000 per year, from licensing and inspection provisions. Products can be sold directly to customers at farmers markets or other directs markets, after required labeling guidelines are met. Reducing barriers for small-scale home kitchens encourages entrepreneurship and serves as training for future business expansion.

  • Best Practice #1

    Fresh Food Retailer Initiative

    New Orleans, LA: The New Orleans Fresh Food Retailer Initiative (FFRI) was developed in response to post-Katrina conditions that left many communities without grocery stores. The program provides forgivable loans and/or interest-baring loans to grocery outlets or supermarket operators who locate their stores in underserved areas. Some of the requirements include: locating in areas with below average food market sales in low-to-moderate income census tracks; a minimum of 15% or 24 linear feet of store shelf-space dedicated to fresh produce; and working with the city to complete an environmental impact statement. The loans can be used to finance pre-development, site preparation, construction, equipment, staff training, security, or inventory. The program which began in 2011 created 209 jobs across 4 financed projects and has improved healthy food access to 47,400 low and moderate income residents.

  • Best Practice #2

    DC Central Kitchen

    Washington, DC: DC Central Kitchen trains jobless adults in culinary careers using food waste from local restaurants to cook healthy food for shelters and nonprofits. In 2017, the organization employed 168 people of which 77 were culinary job training graduates. New hires get paid at least $14.25 an hour, a $1 over DC's minimum wage.

  • Best Practice #3

    Green Cart Initiative

    New York, NY: New York City's Green Cart Initiative is a street-vending strategy that sells fruits and vegetables through mobile food carts in neighborhoods with limited access to healthy foods. The program offered 1,000 permits to vendors with the goal to increase points of purchase for fresh produce. Vendors must pay $53 for a food protection course and $50 for the permit, as well as buy their own carts and produce.

    According to the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, after a year of implementation the program provided jobs for 900 people (the program had 524 active cart permits). A 2011 study by Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) found 71% of customers reported increases in consumption of fresh produce.

  • Best Practice #4

    Good Eggs & Farmstead
    Bay Area, CA

    Bay Area, CA: Good Eggs and Farmstead are two online grocery platforms based in Bay Area, California that provide home delivery of locally sourced, fresh produce and products from local farms, grocers, and bakers. As part of its sustainability mission, Good Eggs partners with local producers who employ year round staff, who are paid a steady income and benefits. All their packing material is reusable, recyclable or compostable.

  • Best Practice #5

    Taste the Local Difference

    Michigan: Taste the Local Difference, a Michigan based organization is a local food marketing agency that helps farmers promote their produce and educates consumers on where to buy local food. The agency began as a program to promote local food within the Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities in 2004 and was recently purchased by a venture capital firm. In addition to printed marketing materials, TLD provides farmers and food producers services to create websites, social media marketing, guidance to participate in events, etc. The annually produced "Guide to Local Food" features farm, farmers markets, retail stores and other materials on local foods. They also maintain a website and mobile app that provides information on local restaurants using local produce.

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