Ann Arbor City Council approved a resolution Monday night to introduce sustainable food options at city facilities and events throughout the city. The resolution would make a few primary recommendations of food and drink options that are more sustainable and healthy at places where the city provides food, such as city-run events, city snack bars and city vending machines.
The resolution would also recommend the creation of a sustainability working group in collaboration with the Washtenaw County Food Policy Council, as well as increasing education for city employees on eating sustainably.
For long-term recommendations, the resolution suggests signing the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact — an international agreement of city mayors to address food-related issues in urban settings. The resolution also suggests creating a permanent Sustainable Foods Steering Committee to support sustainable food efforts, transition all city food purchases toward plant-based food products and establish an A2Zero preferred labeling system to indicate more sustainable options.
Dr. Missy Stults, sustainability and innovations manager for the city of Ann Arbor, was asked to provide information on the resolution. Stults said that while the city does not procure a lot of food, the resolution would be a symbolic movement toward sustainable and healthy food options. Stults also said that she worked with city staff and a team of local food experts to construct the recommendations included in the resolution.
Councilmember Lisa Disch, D-Ward 1, expressed her support for the resolution particularly because of its emphasis on sustainability.
“Animal agriculture is a truly inefficient way of providing people with calories and protein,” Disch said. “Anything that we, as a city, can do to model less planet-expensive ways of eating is wonderful to me.”
Jeff Hayner, D-Ward 1, also shared his support for the resolution, emphasizing the benefits of eating sustainably for economic resiliency and stability as a community.
“Locally, the more we can sustainably source local food and local agricultural efforts, the better off we’re going to be, the more resilient we’re going to be as a community,” Hayner said.
Councilmember Linh Song, D-Ward 2, asked how this resolution would work with city events that may be serving unsustainable food that may provide cultural significance to residents. Stults clarified that the resolution would not ban any food, but would provide options that may be lacking for those who are vegan or vegetarian.
“In many of our systems right now, there isn’t a choice if you’re a vegan,” Stults said. “You could get a bag of chips, perhaps, and that’s not healthy, either.”
The resolution was passed unanimously.
Daily Staff Reporter Riley Hodder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.