RCE North Texas - 2021

North Texas Local Food Dialogue on Inclusive Food System
Basic Information
Title of project : 
North Texas Local Food Dialogue on Inclusive Food System
Submitting RCE: 
RCE North Texas
Contributing organization(s) : 
University of Texas at Arlington and International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives ICLEI USA
Focal point(s) and affiliation(s)
Name: 
Meghna Tare
Organizational Affiliation: 
University of Texas at Arlington
E-mail: 
Format of project: 
Summit
Language of project: 
English
Date of submission:
Monday, September 20, 2021
Additional resources: 
One in seven Texans experienced food insecurity before the pandemic. Five million Texans—the highest of any state—live in food deserts, one of the highest rates in the US. A third of Texans are overweight because of imbalanced diet and therefore at risk of obesity, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Women, children, people of color, refugees and vulnerable groups are disproportionately affected. In Texas, small farmers, ranchers and small agri-food businesses were struggling even before the pandemic, because they received only 15 cents of every dollar spent on food. Of particular note, that 15 cents on the dollar is less than half of what farmers were receiving for their goods 20 years ago. Only 8% of food grown locally is sold locally, the rest travels long distances throughout the United States. US food imports have nearly doubled in the past 10 years. A third of all food is wasted, while millions struggle with food insecurity. Limited access to fresh, healthy food is a complex challenge that calls for comprehensive, coordinated solutions. North Texas is about to become more heavily populated with population projections more than doubling from the current 7.2 million residents by the year 2050. In this rapid growth scenario, all sectors of the region have grave concerns which prompt the question, “How will North Texas fare as it confronts the diverse population projections together with the associated environmental, economic, and social challenges that are sure to follow?”

September 15 | 9:00am - 11:30am Central

North Texas Local Food Dialogue on Inclusive Food Systems
A Contributing Dialogue to the Biden Administration’s Food Policy Agenda, the UN Food Systems Summits, and national discussions, hosted by University of Texas at Arlington and International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI)

About the North Texas Local Food Dialogue

This is a big year for food. Globally, the UN’s Food Systems Summit will bring together science, business, healthcare and academic communities with farmers, Indigenous people, youth, local governments, and others to accelerate the Decade of Action for the SDGs. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is leading much of this work with partners, including ICLEI, to ensure the voice of cities, towns and counties is represented. At the same time in the U.S., the Federal Administration is leading a series of dialogues, led by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). ICLEI is gathering our network to provide input both globally and domestically for how we can build a better food system that promotes equity and nutrition.
https://www.un.org/en/food-systems-summit

This North Texas Local Food Dialogue on Inclusive Food Systems, hosted by University of Texas at Arlington, RCE North Texas, and ICLEI, was intended to be the regional moment for official contribution from cities and counties to the proceedings. We aimed to collate interests, issues, and priorities of local governments — including on food sustainability, security and resilience — in order to submit the outcomes to both FAO at the global level and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) within the U.S.
https://sustainability.uta.edu/rce/north-texas-local-food-dialogue-on-inclusive-food-systems/

Objectives

The exchanges at the event aimed:

To highlight the role that local governments are playing in improving their urban food systems as well as identify key food systems challenges, opportunities and priorities
To generate discussions, action and commitments from local governments on food systems reforms to achieve the SDGS and the health and wellbeing of people and the planet. These will feed into the UNFSS processes such as game changing solutions (“actionable messages”)
To connect these dialogues with the national UNFSS Member States Summit Dialogues and involve Ministries as well as other strategic stakeholders working with the cities (e.g. UN bodies, organizations with consolidated work track on food with respective cities).
Contribute as a UN Food Systems Summit Independent Summit Dialogue and connect this U.S. event with those happening nationally.
To achieve a lasting collaboration on urban food systems and strengthen ICLEI’s CITYFOOD engagement platform to elevate the voices of cities in regional and international fora.

Who is Invited to the Dialogue and Panel?

City of Dallas
City of Plano
Blue Zones Fort Worth
North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG)
North Texas Food Bank
American Heart Association
FEED Oak Cliff
Restorative Farms

We aimed for 55 - 85 participants. This smaller-group format is intended to create space for participants to have ample time to provide inputs. We do also recognize that this format in no way captures the breadth of important stakeholders whose voices should be contributors. The inputs will be delivered in clear view that they come from a focus group of North Texas and ICLEI network communities.

What Questions We tried to Answer?

At the high level, we were seeking to answer:
How do you approach food in your city?
What are the challenges facing your food system?
What steps are you taking to address these challenges?
What 10 years’ time visions/ priorities do you have for your future food system?
What activities or recommendations can bring about this vision of your city’s food system?
Food Policy
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Local
Geographical & Education Information
Region: 
Americas
Country: 
United States
Location(s): 
Wise, Denton, Collin, Parker, Tarrant, Dallas, Rockwall, Johnson, Ellis, Kaufman
Address of focal point institution for project: 
Meghna Tare,
Chief Sustainability Officer
601 W. Nedderman Drive # 105
Arlington, TX 76019
Ph: 817-272-0753 (O) 510-364-8278 (M)
http://sustainability.uta.edu/
Ecosystem(s):
Target Audience:
Community
Local government/Cities/Non Profits/Food Banks, Farmers and Growers
Socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the area : 
Texas is known the world over for its friendliness and southern hospitality, and for a frontier ethos of taking risks in hopes of big rewards. Cattle ranching, cotton farming and the discovery of oil made Texas an economic and development powerhouse. Today, technology, banking, telecommunications and research ensures Texas is at the forefront of growth. Texas is situated at the edge of the western frontier and stretches into the American Southwest of the United States. Being so large has contributed to a distinctly independent streak. Texas was even an independent republic for some time after gaining independence from Mexico and before joining the United States of America. This spirit of independence even extends to electrical power generation, transmission and distribution, whereby Texas is the only state in the nation to maintain its own electrical power grid. Compared to most states, Texas is physically enormous. As the second most populous state in the nation, the region of North Texas alone has a larger population than most of the other fifty states. North Texas is home to more than 10,000 U.S. corporate business headquarters, which is the highest concentration of headquarters within the United States. This includes being home to 22 of the top Fortune 500 US corporations, spanning 13 industries and fields of business. Some private- sector stakeholders such as PepsiCo have been based in the region for decades; other corporations are newcomers to the region, such as Toyota’s American headquarters.
Description of sustainable development challenge(s) in the area the project addresses: 
- One in seven Texans experienced food insecurity before the pandemic. Five million Texans—the highest of any state—live in food deserts, one of the highest rates in the US.
- A third of Texans are overweight because of imbalanced diet and therefore at risk of obesity, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Women, children, people of color, refugees and vulnerable groups are disproportionately affected.
- In Texas, small farmers, ranchers, and small agri-food businesses were struggling even before the pandemic, because they received only 15 cents of every dollar spent on food. Of note, that 15 cents on the dollar is less than half of what farmers were receiving for their goods 20 years ago.
- Only 8% of food grown locally is sold locally, the rest travels long distances throughout the United States. US food imports have nearly doubled in the past 10 years.
- A third of all food is wasted, while millions struggle with food insecurity. Limited access to fresh, healthy food is a complex challenge that calls for comprehensive, coordinated solutions.
North Texas is about to become more heavily populated with population projections more than doubling from the current 7.2 million residents by the year 2050.
- In this rapid growth scenario, all sectors of the region have grave concerns which prompt the question, “How will North Texas fare as it confronts the diverse population projections together with the associated environmental, economic, and social challenges that are sure to follow?”
- Only 2% of Food Policy Councils/Alliances are embedded in Academic Institutions.
Contents
Status: 
Completed
Period: 
September, 2021
Rationale: 
This is a big year for food. Globally, the UN’s Food Systems Summit will bring together science, business, healthcare and academic communities with farmers, Indigenous people, youth, local governments, and others to accelerate the Decade of Action for the SDGs. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is leading much of this work with partners to ensure the voice of cities, towns and counties is represented. At the same time in the U.S., the Federal Administration is leading a series of dialogues, led by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

This North Texas Local Food Dialogue on Inclusive Food Systems, hosted by University of Texas at Arlington and International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) is intended to be the regional moment for official contribution from cities and counties to the proceedings. We aim to collate interests, issues, and priorities of local governments — including on food sustainability, security and resilience — in order to submit the outcomes to both FAO at the global level and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) within the U.S.

Objectives: 
The exchanges at the event aim:
To highlight the role that local governments and other organizations are playing in improving their urban food systems as well as identify key food systems challenges, opportunities and priorities

To generate discussions, action and commitments from local stakeholders on food systems reforms to achieve the SDGS and the health and wellbeing of people and the planet. These will feed into the UNFSS processes such as game changing solutions (“actionable messages”)

To connect these dialogues with the national UNFSS Member States Summit Dialogues and involve Ministries as well as other strategic stakeholders working with the cities (e.g. UN bodies, organizations with consolidated work track on food with respective cities).

To contribute as a UN Food Systems Summit Independent Summit Dialogue and connect this U.S. event with those happening nationally.

To achieve a lasting collaboration on urban food systems in support of the RCE North Texas and North Texas Food Policy Alliance (NTFPA).
Activities and/or practices employed: 
Online/Virtual Summit
https://sustainability.uta.edu/rce/north-texas-local-food-dialogue-on-inclusive-food-systems/
https://vimeo.com/599672749/9b24b12f49 Introduction and Welcome (video Recording) by the UT Arlington President Teik Lim
Size of academic audience: 
Dallas Fort Worth Region ( North Texas)
Results: 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gl-hx-TFSq4 ( the entire recording on the summit was shared with the participants and other community members
The Transcripts of the discussion will be shared as a Policy Paper with the Biden Administration/USDA and others and also shared via newsletters.
https://vimeo.com/599672749/9b24b12f49 Introduction and Welcome (video Recording) by the UT Arlington President Teik Lim
Lessons learned: 
Collaboration and Capacity Building is important to address the regional food challenges
Education and sharing of knowledge and expertise through such summits and conferences is key to implementing solutions for equitable and resilient food systems in North Texas
Key messages: 
Food systems touch every aspect of human existence. The health of our food systems profoundly affects the health of our bodies, as well as the health of our environment, our economies and our cultures. Equitable and Resilient food systems have the power to bring us together as communities.
Relationship to other RCE activities: 
Sustainable Cities and Communities Goal. All the participants in this summit are members of the RCE North Texas
The participating organizations were
American Heart Association
Blue Zones Project Fort Worth
City of Dallas
City of Denton
City of Lewisville
City of Plano
EPA Region 6
Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
FEED Oak Cliff
Healthy Tarrant County Collaboration
North Central Texas Council of Governments
Nexus PMG- Private Sector
North Texas Food Bank
Restorative Farms Dallas
Schneider Electric
Southern Methodist University
Tarrant County Food Policy Council
Tarrant Area Food Bank
Texas A&M AgriLife Research Dallas Center
Turn Compost
UNT Health Science Center
City of Farmers Branch
Funding: 
No Funding Needed
In kind time and support was provided by University of Texas at Arlington and RCE North Texas
RCE North Texas hired a Graphic Facilitator to capture the meeting notes and message. It will be posted on the UTA Sustainability, RCE North Texas, and North Texas Food Policy Alliance Website
https://sustainability.uta.edu/rce/
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
(https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs) and other themes of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
SDG 1 - End poverty in all its forms everywhere 
Indirect
SDG 2 - End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture 
Direct
SDG 3 - Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages 
Direct
SDG 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all 
Indirect
SDG 5 - Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls 
Indirect
SDG 8 - Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all 
Direct
SDG 10 - Reduce inequality within and among countries 
Direct
SDG 13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts 
Indirect
SDG 17 - Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development 
Direct
Theme
Traditional Knowledge  
Direct
ESD for 2030-Priority Action Areas
Priority Action Area 1 - Advancing policy 
state: 
Direct
Priority Action Area 2 - Transforming learning and training environments 
state: 
Direct
Priority Action Area 3 - Developing capacities of educators and trainers 
state: 
Direct
Priority Action Area 4 - Mobilizing youth 
state: 
Indirect
Priority Action Area 5 - Accelerating sustainable solutions at local level 
state: 
Direct