Food & Justice News Feb 25, 2020

Food & Justice News Feb 25, 2020


  1. Food Systems Dashboard Released
  2. AI Algorithms Intended To Root Out Welfare Fraud Often End Up Punishing The Poor Instead
  3. Blind Low Vision Shoppers Day March 15
  4. Comments Due March 23: Trump Proposal Would Weaken Standards for School Lunches: Or, “More Pizza, Less Vegetables”

Food Systems Dashboard Released

The 2020 Food System Dashboard has been released. This is a publication of the LA Food Policy Council. The Dashboard is a collection of over 250 indicators measuring the health, affordability, sustainability, and fairness of Los Angeles’ local food system. Indicators used in the dashboard span across Los Angeles as a City, County, and a Foodshed, which comprises 10 counties in Southern California (the region in which food going to LA would be considered “local.” ) Statistics, trends, case studies, and interviews with commentators involved in the food system are also included, making it a comprehensive look at sustainability, affordability and quality of local food. Indicators also examine equity and racial disparities in food production, food labor and access to nutritious food. Some of the findings:

  • Diet related diseases are increasing for the lowest income individuals
  • Agricultural land is being lost across the 10 county foodshed
  • Minority and women-operated farms are increasing
  • Wages for food workers are slowly increasing, but not keeping up with what’s needed to live in LA

A diverse team put a tremendous amount of work into the Dashboard. You can view the Dashboard at

AI Algorithms Intended To Root Out Welfare Fraud Often End Up Punishing The Poor Instead

Automated algorithms — not humans — are increasingly making decisions about who’s eligible for welfare benefits. This article appeared in Salon, authored by Michele Gilman, Venable Professor of Law, University of Baltimore



“States — which are charged with distributing and overseeing many federally funded benefits — are increasingly turning to artificial intelligence and other automated systems to determine benefits eligibility and ferret out fraud in a variety of benefits programs, from food stamps and Medicaid to unemployment insurance.

Of course, government agencies should ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent effectively. The problem is these automated decision-making systems are sometimes rife with errors and designed in ways that punish the poor for being poor, leading to tragic results.

As a clinical law professor who has researched safety net programs and has represented low-income clients in public benefits cases for over 20 years, I believe it's essential these systems are designed in ways that are fair, transparent and accountable to prevent hurting society's most vulnerable”



Blind Low Vision Shoppers Day March 15

Help Blind and Low Vision Shoppers Enjoy the Farmers Market:

Blind and Low-Vision services

Sunday March 15 Atwater Village Farmers Market

3528 Larga Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90039 in Public Parking Lot 646

What we’ll be doing:

  1. Guiding blind or low vision shoppers around the market. Need outgoing people who love to converse! Also people who are patient and can describe to the shoppers the foods they’re encountering
  2. We anticipate staying from 9:30 am until probably 1 pm, at either market: You may have shoppers who wish to go for longer than that. Let me know how long you’d be available
  3. WE also need drivers. You can be both a guide and a driver if you like. The drivers are there to take the shoppers home from the market. They do not need to bring them TO the market. If you volunteer to drive we will be finding out the addresses of all the shoppers in advance and then alert all the volunteers to those potential addresses, BEFORE the day of the market (though it is often by email at night.)

Here are some reminders to ensure that you are prepared for the day:

  • Bring a signed copy of the liability waiver (You can also sign one at the market) Get the waiver at this link:

Volunteer Waiver HALA

  • Volunteer guides will need to provide their own transportation

Our itinerary for BLV Market Days is outlined below:

  • 9:30 AM Arrival at the farmers market (Market doesn’t actually open until 10 but it takes us time to collect people.
  • 10:15 AM Breakfast/Orientation---this is where volunteers will match up with shoppers
  • 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM Shopping/Eating
  • 12:30 PM-1 PM Take shoppers home (Unless some make particular arrangements to stay later with the volunteer)

And stay tuned for the next 2 BLV Shopping Days after this one:

*Saturday April 11: Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw Farmers Market

*Sunday May 17: Hollywood Farmers Market

If you have any questions or need directions on the day of the event, please call Frank Tamborello, the Director of Hunger Action LA at (213) 361-2075.

RSVP: [email protected]



Comments Due March 23: Trump Proposal Would Weaken Standards for School Lunches: Or, “More Pizza, Less Vegetables”

From the Guardian: “The Trump administration took further steps on Friday towards rolling back healthier standards for school lunches in America championed by Michelle Obama, proposing rules to allow more pizza, meat and potatoes over fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grains. The new proposals would allow schools more flexibility, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) said in a statement, adding: “Because they know their children best.”



One of the reasons for the change is the potato lobby. Colin Schwartz, deputy director of legislative affairs for Center for Science in the Public Interest, “says the potato lobby has been pushing for this change, and that the potato industry was behind a change that happened quietly last March. The USDA allowed school food authorities participating in the School Breakfast Program to substitute potatoes in place of fruit without including vegetables from other subgroups in the weekly menus.”


This rollback of healthy food standards comes at a time when record numbers of adolescents are living with prediabetes and toddlers are dealing with obesity. The public will have a chance to comment on the proposed school meal changes,. See the link below:  



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