The last of a series of six hearings on hunger in Los Angeles focused on the need to sponsor more low-cost community gardens and farmers markets, in addition to improving access to retail food outlets in poor urban areas.
The hearings, conducted by the Volunteer Advisory Council on Hunger, began in March. The final hearing was held Thursday in North Hollywood.
The advisory council was formed last year with the goal of developing recommendations leading to a citywide policy on reducing, and eventually eliminating, hunger.
"What we are trying to do is gather information and focus on local needs," said Carolyn Olney of the Interfaith Hunger Coalition, which helped coordinate the hearings.
Lamont Bristol, project manager of Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment, spoke about the success of city-sponsored public gardens, where low-income families can grow food to supplement family diets. About 30 such gardens have been started citywide, Bristol said, but added that more would exist if the city streamlined the permit process for starting such projects.
Marie Tolbert of the Volunteer Center of San Fernando Valley said the opening of the new Van Nuys Farmers Market is a positive step toward addressing the problem. Farmers markets help because fruits and vegetables are often sold at wholesale prices, enabling poor families to buy more food.
Previous hearings focused on the needs of infants and senior citizens, federal hunger programs, emergency food distribution programs and educational nutrition programs. The city's hunger policy is expected to be issued before the end of summer.