Food Justice & Community Health in Richmond

Foreward: An Opportunity Not To Be Missed

Foreward: An Opportunity Not To Be Missed

There lies in front of us the exciting potential to phenomenally transform the food system in Richmond, California, and present a model of real food justice for urban communities everywhere. The Berkeley Global Campus at Richmond Bay, along with the UC Global Food Initiative, have an historic opportunity to partner with the Richmond community to achieve food equity, sustainability, and adaptability.

The City of Richmond and our community have been on the forefront of policy innovation for over a decade. Our General Plan was adopted in 2012 after several years in the making, and includes a cutting-edge Health and Wellness Element and an Energy and Climate Change Element—all part of our vision for a healthy Richmond. In order to implement such a vision, innovative structures like the Richmond Food Policy Council have emerged and good policies like the Urban Agriculture Ordinance and the Health in All Policies Ordinance have been enacted. We’ve also seen the rise of incredible community organizations like Urban Tilth and other groups that have developed a community garden and urban farm movement in Richmond, offering enriching opportunities for our residents to learn and enjoy growing their own food. 

We are proud that our work thus far in Richmond has showcased us as a leading progressive city with a commitment to overcoming social ills that plague not only our city but urban communities throughout our nation and the world. Yet the problems of health and food justice are persistent ones, and cities like Richmond with a low-income population continue to feel the impact of systemic injustices. The community is tired of seeing institutions and project partners come and go. There is a need for strategic planning and visioning to create longstanding partnerships that center the needs of the community. 

By investing in food system change, UC Berkeley will be investing in the prosperity and future of generations to come. Over the eight years that I served as Richmond’s Mayor, in addition to my work today as a Richmond City Councilmember, I have seen the health challenges that exist in our community from not having access to whole and healthy foods. These challenges have burdened our community for too long. We need to reverse this situation by addressing their root cause—an unjust food system. 

Food sustainability and food justice are pressing issues around the globe. Richmond can be home to a new global campus and simultaneously experience a shift in the well-being of our community. This can be done by building community-campus partnerships for a healthier, more equitable food system. The Berkeley Global Campus, working side by side with the Richmond community, can be a global leader in creating community-driven alternatives to the current, broken food system. I applaud the work of the Haas Institute and all its partners in providing such an excellent report to advance this effort. 

Gayle McLaughlin Councilmember and former Mayor, City of Richmond, California

This picture is a headshot of Gayle McLaughlin, Councilmember and former Mayor, City of Richmond, California

“There is a need for strategic planning and visioning to create longstanding partnerships that center the needs of the community."