Boston City Council passes landmark food justice policy
The Good Food Purchasing Program will bring healthy, sustainable and ethically sourced food to the city.
BOSTON — Today, the Boston City Council unanimously voted to advance a precedent-setting Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP) for the city. The policy will transform the way public institutions purchase food by creating a more equitable system. Boston is the first East Coast city to adopt this as a city-wide municipal policy; to date seven GFPP policies have been adopted — from Los Angeles to Chicago to Cincinnati.
GFPP directs the city of Boston to purchase food that meets robust labor, health, animal welfare and environmental standards — bringing nutritious, local, sustainable and ethically sourced food to all public food purchasers. It was supported by a broad range of local and national organizations representing farm and food-processing workers, farmers, parents, animal welfare advocates, students, educators and other Boston community members. The Boston policy is centered in racial equity and has components that lift up stakeholder participation in the implementation process.
“The Boston Public School system is one of the largest daily food providers in the city, so we have a tremendous opportunity to ensure the food we’re providing to students is healthy, locally sourced, and reflects equity and justice along the entire food supply chain,” said Michelle Wu, Boston City Councilor At-Large and sponsor of the ordinance. “I’m proud to see the City Council demonstrate national leadership in taking this next step towards aligning the food purchasing power of Boston with our values.”
Boston Public Schools is the city’s largest purchaser of food and will be most impacted by this policy. GFPP’s passage in various cities comes amid a ballooning public health epidemic of diet-related diseases and a growing call for healthier food in public institutions. Boston parents and students have advocated for healthier food in schools in recent years, supporting the school system’s switch in food service providers in 2017.
Across the world, and in the Boston area, transnational corporations shape and profit off of a food system that exploits people, animals and the planet. For decades, these same corporations have attempted to healthwash their image through high-profile contracts with institutions like hospitals and schools. This policy sets up safeguards against corporate abuse by redirecting significant city resources away from corporations, and toward local and equitable food providers.
GFPP’s adoption and implementation is managed by the Center for Good Food Purchasing. The program is widely considered one of the most comprehensive food procurement policies because of its cross-sector approach to creating a just food system. Its core areas include: local economies, environmental sustainability, valued workforce, animal welfare and nutrition.
Following Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s approval of the ordinance in the coming days, Boston’s GFPP will go into effect. The Boston GFPP coalition includes: the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Boston Public Market, Boston Student Advisory Council, Chelsea GreenRoots, City Fresh Foods, CommonWealth Kitchen, Corporate Accountability, Farm to Institution New England, Food Chain Workers Alliance, FoodCorps, Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic, Health Care Without Harm, the Humane Society of the U.S., Massachusetts Farm to School, Massachusetts Food System Collaborative, Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA), Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, Oxfam, Real Food Challenge, Red Fire Farm and United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1445.
“With this passage, Boston has loosened the stranglehold that corporations have over our food system, especially in schools. This will have a ripple effect throughout the entire nation. In short, GFPP helps build the local, sustainable, thriving food culture that we know we need—for the sake of our planet and for the health of generations to come.”—Alexa Kaczmarski, senior organizer at Corporate Accountability
“The City of Boston is sending an important message that food should not only be healthy, sustainable and fair, but also ensure compassionate treatment of animals. With the adoption of GFPP, Boston joins a growing list of progressive cities and government entities across the country taking an active role in building a more humane food system.”—Suzanne McMillan, content director for the Farm Animal Welfare Campaign of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)
"For anyone concerned with creating a healthy and equitable Boston, the Good Food Purchasing Program is an incredible opportunity. We are thrilled our city will be using our purchasing power to support low-income entrepreneurs of color, family farmers and farmworkers, while providing healthy food in our schools, hospitals, and other important institutions."—Jen Faigel, CommonWealth Kitchen
“Congratulations to the City of Boston for their leadership in the region. The Good Food Purchasing Policy is not only expected to redirect millions of dollars to local producers and improve nutrition, environmental sustainability, and animal welfare, but also to create the infrastructure to improve wages and working conditions for hundreds of thousands of food workers and their families. Boston Public Schools adoption of the Good Food Purchasing Program is a huge leap forward in the quest of good food for all.”—Suzanne Adely, Food Chain Workers Alliance
The Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) is excited to see the City of Boston adopt Good Food Purchasing standards. This ordinance will support local food producers and food system workers, increase healthy food in schools and other public institutions, and generally bring more justice and to our food. FLPC applauds the City of Boston for taking this important step towards a healthier, more sustainable, and more equitable food system and we look forward to continuing to partner with the City to make turn this vision into reality.
“The HEAL Food Alliance is proud to support the expansion of the Good Food Purchasing Program in Boston. The program increases access to healthy, local, fair and sustainable food to Boston’s residents, and is a major step forward in creating a food system that enables millions more people to thrive as farmers, fishers, ranchers, and workers with the support of food and farm policies, not in spite of them.”—Navina Khanna, director of the HEAL Food Alliance
“By committing to the GFPP framework, the City of Boston is embracing this opportunity to deepen its commitment to a more just and equitable food system. By encouraging institutions to leverage their purchasing power, Boston can build a regional food economy – one in which small and mid-sized farms have sufficient demand for their products and communities with the greatest need can access healthy, high-quality food that is sustainably, fairly, and responsibly produced. Supporting farms with higher animal welfare standards as well as incorporating more plant-based meals into our diets is vital to animal welfare and public health.”—Stephanie Harris, Massachusetts state director for the Humane Society of the United States
"Massachusetts Farm to School commends the City of Boston for adopting the Good Food Purchasing Standards. This new policy will directly support our local economy and will help us make great strides towards a food system in which the people who grow, process, and serve our food are treated justly, our farmland and our fisheries are preserved for future generations, and all our students can access the healthy and delicious foods they need to learn and thrive." —Simca Horwitz, co-director of Massachusetts Farm to School
“The MSPCA congratulates the City of Boston for adopting the GFPP, which promotes the purchase of humanely-sourced animal food products. The MSPCA has advocated for farmed animals in the Commonwealth for centuries, and in 2016 helped secure the successful passage of Question 3 with 81 percent support from Boston residents, a first-of-its-kind law that bans extreme farmed animal confinement as well as the import of such products. The GFPP will help to ensure that Boston is in compliance with this new law, and reflects the will of the citizenry that their animal food products are humanely-sourced.” —Elizabeth Magner, animal advocacy specialist, MSPCA
“We commend the City of Boston for passing the Good Food Purchasing Policy, which includes fair labor standards. The city took a strong step towards providing strong incentives for food companies receiving taxpayer dollars to pay their workers a living wage, provide strong protections against workplace hazards, and otherwise move towards adopting more sustainable food production practices in a manner that bolsters our local economy.” —Jim Carvalho, political director, UFCW Local 1445