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More plant-based cuisine at county-run facilities


Attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

The Board of Supervisors this week voted to incorporate more plant-based food and fewer animal products into the food it offers at county-run facilities as a way to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The board adopted the motion on Tuesday by Board Chair Lindsey Horvath and Supervisor Hilda Solis to transition to more plant-based options in its 111 food contracts across hospitals, schools and other county facilities.

“Los Angeles County has the opportunity to overhaul outdated food policies so they match best practices today,'' Horvath said. “This action will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and food waste, and expand healthy food options at county facilities–all  meaningful wins as we continue to lead on sustainable practices.''

The motion notes that the global food system accounts for 30% of human-caused GHG emissions, with animal products generating 90% more greenhouse gasses than plant-based alternatives.

The board said similar policies in other parts of the country have shown success, noting that New York City's hospital system reduced its costs and food-related carbon emissions by 36% and “patient satisfaction of the revamped menu increased to more than 90%'' after one year of implementation.

“Los Angeles County is one of the largest contracting entities in Southern California,'' Solis said. “To that end, it is critical that we look at our food contracting processes and how we can incorporate alternatives that can lower our carbon footprint and reduce our contribution to global warming. Addressing greenhouse gas emissions requires both comprehensive sweeping action on a large scale, as well as collective actions locally. I'm proud that we're in this fight and encourage others to follow suit.''

As part of the motion, the Department of Public Health will review its Nutritional Standards for Prepared Foods, Snacks and Beverages, and incorporate up-to-date evidence-based recommendations on purchasing, selling and serving more plant-based and plant-forward foods.

The updates will return to the board in 120 days with recommendations from partner departments on how to increase participation.

A review will be conducted of the county's food purchasing carbon footprint with consideration for how to track the different types of foods the county is purchasing and recommending how officials can reduce the amount of animal products being purchased.

“As more Americans choose plant-based food for reasons such as health, environmental protection, and animal welfare, public purchasing must reflect this shift,'' said Leah Garcés with Mercy For Animals.