UCLA Luskin alums Alexa Delwiche and Clare Fox are working to reshape the food landscape in Los Angeles.
Both work at the newly formed Los Angeles Food Policy Council (LAFPC), which was established as the Food Policy Task Force by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in 2009. The LAFPC is a collaborative network in Southern California ensuring food is healthy, affordable, fair and sustainable.
While at UCLA Luskin both Delwiche, a 2006 Public Policy graduate, and Fox, a 2010 Urban and Regional Planning alum, knew they were interested in food-related issues.
For Alexa it became about food labor and workers’ rights within the food system. For Clare, food justice is about ensuring people’s right to healthy affordable food. They are both passionate about the myriad issues relating to food security and believe nutritious food and good health is a human right.
They both took action to use the program and faculty resources to make their passion a reality. Alexa developed her policy analysis skills at UCLA Luskin while focusing her projects on food related issues. She was able to tailor her degree to focus on food issues and agricultural policy. She credits Urban Planning professor Geotz Wolff with providing insightful direction and even helping her to secure a job as a researcher with United Farm Workers union. AT UFW Delwiche became even more captivated by organized labor and continues to employ labor tactics in food related issues. She manages most operations and is the Food Policy Coordinator at LAFPC.
Clare’s client project, a requirement for planning students to work with an employer on a specific research based project, was with the Food Policy Task Force where Delwiche was already working. Fox’s project, the Community Market Conversion Program, worked to transform convenience stores into healthy community markets that sell fresh produce. The redevelopment agency was later closed due to budget cuts but The Food Policy Task Force, now the LAFPC, adopted the project where Clare now manages the program. Fox manages partnerships as the Strategic Coordinator at LAFPC.
Clare also recognizes Wolff for his support in helping her with other students to start the Food Justice in Planning and Policy initiative. The student-led initiative provided an important space for students interested in looking at food through the lens of planning and community development. Due to the initiatives and leadership of both Delwiche and Fox, who didn’t have the resources of class schedule related to food equality while at UCLA, the School now offers food justice courses in both the Public Policy and Urban Planning departments.
“The kind of food we have available and the circumstances around production and distribution are the most intimate way we relate to the earth and each other,” Fox said. “Food justice is a human rights issue. Our health is a basic human right and it is egregious [that] some – usually minority and low-income communities – don't have access or cannot afford healthy food.
“I feel blessed I get to work on a neighborhood level with community members and a policy level to create change on a larger scale.”
Delwiche expressed similar sentiment, seeing food policy as “bridging policy problems and bringing into light bigger social and labor issues.
“The labor movement is what has and continues to inspire me and working at LAFPC gives me the opportunity to encourage unionization within the food system and empower people to be able to afford the food they want to nurture themselves. It's about empowering people. It’s inspiring to be surrounded by people at the LAFPC who are advancing the Luskin mission, regarding providing people a better life.”