Residents with limited resources may be more susceptible to diet-sensitive chronic diseases such as obesity, hypertension, and diabetes, as well as increased doctor visits and hospitalizations, and psychosocial stress. Because of the high cost of living in San Francisco, many residents struggle to afford their basic needs such as housing and transportation, as well as healthy food. In addition to a lack of financial resources, food insecurity may be related to transportation and other mobility issues, the neighborhood food environment, and issues related to stigma. In order to meet their food needs, many residents engage in complex food management strategies to navigate their own social and economic conditions.
San Francisco Department of Public Health aims to improve the quality of food available to all San Franciscans, especially low income residents through expanding usage of federal nutrition benefits, improving participation and the quality of food in public food programs, develop complete neighborhoods that include healthy food retail. Our program has also developed a public health framework to incorporate all aspects of the food system to inform city wide food system policy and planning. We have conducted research and documented city wide food system indicators, as well as policy and practices to improve access to healthy food through all sectors of the food system. For more information about San Francisco's Food System, click here.
Informing Public Policy
San Francisco Unified School District Nutrition and Physical Activity Committee
As a member, SFDPH works with the committee to make recommendations aimed at policy makers to improve the school food and physical activity environment, strengthen the capacity of the school meal program to increase participation in the programs and improve meal quality.
SFDPH is a member and the coordinator of the San Francisco Food Security Task Force and works with Task Force members to track vital data regarding hunger and food security, and develop policy recommendations and programs to ensure that all San Franciscans have access to nutritious, culturally appropriate diets at all times. For past reports, presentations, meeting agendas and minutes, click here.
Issued in 2009, this directive required interventions to address high priority food system issues as well as provided a comprehensive framework for future food systems policy in San Francisco. For a summary report, click here.
Promoting Sustainable Business Practices
Equitable and Sustainable Restaurants
Square Plate (squareplate.org) has developed a comprehensive social and environmental responsibility standard for local food business. SFDPH is partnering with Square Plate to certify and promote local food businesses that go above and beyond for social justice and sustainability.
Expanding Public Programs
San Francisco Unified School District School Meals Program
Since 2002, SFDPH has partnered with the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) to increase participation in the meal programs and improve food quality, through research, technical assistance, identification of funding, pilot programs, and evaluation. Improvements have included the introduction of salad bars, the development of Grab and Go breakfast programs, sustainable procurement, and the development of a long term strategic plan.
Since 2002, SFDPH has worked with city agencies, farmers markets, and community based organizations to institutionalize improved access to farmers markets by SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) beneficiaries through ensuring acceptance of federal nutrition programs as well as piloting an incentive program to make fruits and vegetables more affordable to families on SNAP.
Research and Assessment
Since 2009, SFDPH has worked with SFUSD and SF Food Systems to provide technical assistance to develop a model to eliminate competitive food in the school meal program at three pilot schools.
Iin 2010, SFDPH worked with SFUSD and SF Food Systems to explore the effect on participation in school meals by introducing a vending machine at one large high school that would distribute balanced meals that are reimbursable under the National School Lunch Program.
In 2007, the Retail Food Availability Survey was developed as a tool to assess the availability of healthy foods within stores, and therefore within neighborhoods, to determine community food security. The tool was piloted in the SOMA neighborhood, and survey results were used to inform neighborhood development plans, identify incentives for healthy food retail, and reaffirm that additional corner/liquor stores are not needed.
In 2005, SFDPH and San Francisco Food Systems led a collaborative food system assessment of San Francisco to compile data from various sources in one place, and provide a resource to help drive food related policy and decision-making in the City and County of San Francisco.
In 2009, the San Francisco Department of Public Health, in collaboration with consultants from HECG and RTI produced a nexus study to explain the justification for a fee on sweetened beverages and to calculate the proper amount of the fee.