The L.A. City Council has two food related items on the agenda today, in a sign of the continuing momentum of food activists who are either ameliorating hunger and reversing the decades-long trend toward bad, processed food, or being annoying nanny staters wasting Council time while bigger problems await, depending on your perspective.
The first item hopes to help convenience stores — currently stocked with Ring Dings, Ding Dongs and other ridiculously named junk food — add vegetables to their options, while the second is an attempt by the city to stop wasting so much food while people go hungry.
Today the Council could authorize the Community Redevelopment Agency to give up to $75,000 to a convenience store to rehab it and add refrigeration so they can sell more fresh produce. It's called a Community Market Conversion Program. A total of $500,000 per year is available citywide.
With 7-Eleven now making its own wine, as noted by our Village Voice colleagues in Dallas, maybe this is the future: Artisanal 7-Eleven.
In city with hundreds, or perhaps thousands of convenience stores, it seems unlikely that $500,000 will change the landscape much, but every little bit helps.
The second item is an ordinance to adopt a Surplus Food Policy so that city departments will give out leftover food to food banks. This may sound like a small thing, but city departments have a decent number of catered events, and for a small amount of money, especially relative to the benefits, this policy could help food pantries suffering through the Great Recession. (H/t Laist.)
These types of policies seem smart and innovative. Unfortunately, City Hall is caught in a bind. With the city seemingly in crisis on many fronts — economic and fiscal, just to start — it's difficult for elected officials to do small-bore projects like this without seeming like they are playing a fine tune during the sinking of a big boat that is often used as a metaphor and had an Oscar unworthy movie named after it.