Many Sacramento area residents lack access to fresh, local food, CapRadio / Valley Vision poll suggests

Most Sacramentians at one point moved past the boastful marketing slogan about the glittering silver water tower while heading north on Interstate 5.

He proclaims the region the “farm-to-fork capital of the United States,” a nod to the agricultural generosity of the admittedly generous, multi-billion dollar valley, made up of more than 250 diverse crops. But a new survey released Monday by CapRadio, Valley Vision and the Sacramento State Institute for Social Research suggests that access and food systems in the region do not include all Sacramentians, especially residents of color. .

“An important point to remember is that we have many food and agricultural strengths in our region,” Valley Vision CEO Evan Schmidt said of the survey. “But there is still a lot of work to be done to increase access to food, to improve the connection between the local farm and the community and individuals and to reduce disparities.”

Food insecurity in Sacramento is also above the US average, a key finding.

“We had 16% [of survey respondents] overall who were in this low or very low food safety rating, which is higher than the US average by about 12%, ”explained Schmidt.

The survey also found that 25% of respondents said they had used food aid programs, and nearly half had to dip into pandemic stimulus money to buy food they didn’t. could not afford otherwise. And more than a third of residents aged 18 to 34 said they had used food assistance programs.

The distance people have to travel to access food aid is also an issue, with 35% of respondents saying it takes more than 15 minutes to get to places that help them with food.

And the “Buy Local” campaign is not a campaign that has included residents of all races, ages and income.

“We found that white, older, higher-income respondents were more likely to knowingly buy local, which sort of indicates that buying locally is more of a privilege than a standard practice,” Schmidt said.

Residents of Asian, American and Pacific Islander, Latino and Latino descent said they preferred to buy food from stores specializing in products that match their culture, religion or nationality. But 13% of all respondents say it is difficult to access these stores, with AAPI respondents (25%) being the most likely to say that it is difficult to get these traditional and cultural foods. in Sacramento.

Community gardens and access to locally grown food and agriculture play a crucial role in Sacramento. A majority of residents of color appreciated the importance of these gardens. However, less than half of all those who responded to the survey have or have access to a garden on their property.

Yet when it comes to Sacramento’s water tower and the ‘Farm to Fork‘ brand, a majority of residents feel positive, according to the survey, including more than half of residents of small towns or cities. rural areas of the region.

Schmidt of Valley Vision says one of the goals of the survey will be to develop solutions.

“These findings can help create a roadmap for how we can make systemic change to fundamentally improve these experiences,” she said, adding that Valley Vision has partnered with the Sacramento Region Community Foundation to create an action plan for food systems. “It’s really designed to strategically advance programs, policies and invite investment to support good system resilience. “

According to the plan, a few ways to improve food security could include fundraising efforts to increase enrollment in CalFresh, a statewide program that helps low-income residents buy food; additional financial support for food banks and increased investment in community gardens and food aid in communities of color.

The city of Sacramento has also launched a task force to focus on “food justice,” with the goal of serving communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic with nutritious and culturally appropriate foods.

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