Greater Pittsburgh Food Action Plan Prioritizes Healthy, Affordable, Sustainable Food for All

The Pittsburgh Food Policy Council has released its Greater Pittsburgh Food Action Plan (GPFAP) – a community-centered set of strategies that prioritize healthy, affordable, and sustainable food for all.

The city has been facing problems with food insecurity, with 21% of residents classified as “food insecure” before the Covid pandemic.

“Food insecurity is higher in the city of Pittsburgh than it is the county or the U.S. as a whole,” said Shelly Danko+Day, Urban Agriculture and Food Policy Advisor for the city of Pittsburgh. “It’s now estimated to be as much as 35 to 40 percent, so that’s a big problem. People don’t have enough food to live an active life.”

The Food Action Plan seeks strategies for improving how it grows, distributes, and disposes of food in Allegheny County. Solutions include leveraging the purchasing power of large institutions, supporting local food producers, and promoting urban agriculture.

Dawn Plummer, executive director of the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council, stated “There’s 150 strategies that we’ve identified. In light of Covid and rising racial injustice, we’ve been really working to prioritize the focus of our network.”

The plan has created recommendations organized around the five goals of the GPFAP:

  • Enhance coordination and communication among existing food systems’ resources and agencies;
  • Center the roles of equity, sustainable agriculture and environmental stewardship in a healthy food system;
  • Support a robust regional food economy that benefits all;
  • Improve food security and public health by increasing availability and accessibility of nutritious, high-quality, affordable and locally sourced food; and,
  • Build community power based on the principle of food sovereignty for all residents.

“One of the only positive things that came out of this was the pandemic helped to shed a light on all the cracks in our system,” says Danko+Day. “It was the perfect time for the Food Action Plan to be done, too, to fill in those gaps with local solutions.”