CHIP FOOD SYSTEMS DEPARTMENT
Community Health Improvement Partners (CHIP) works throughout San Diego County to advance solutions to priority health needs through collaboration and community engagement. CHIP works to create a healthy, sustainable, and just food system because it is now clear that the health of the food system is inextricably tied to the health of people, our local economy, and the environment. CHIP’s Food Systems Department focuses on three key areas:
FARM-TO-INSTITUTION: CHIP assists institutional buyers, large and small, to shift their procurement to more local, healthful, and sustainable food options. As a relationship ‘broker’ in the local food system, CHIP uses a variety of strategies and tools to connect buyers directly to San Diego County-grown produce. As part of this work, CHIP Food Systems Department facilitates both the San Diego County Farm to School Taskforce and the Nutrition in Healthcare Leadership Team, hosts annual growers workshops, and events such as the Let’s Go Local! Produce Showcase.
FOOD JUSTICE: In order to achieve a healthier food system, the many well-documented inequities in the food system need to be addressed. CHIP will support initiatives that address systemic inequality in the food system and will, as much as possible, partner on projects being conducted by and for low-income communities and communities of color. CHIP will work to diffuse an equity lens into the San Diego good food movement and will advance specific strategies that address disparities in diet-related disease, inequities in access to healthy food, and other food justice issues.
RESEARCH, EVALUATION, AND DATA: CHIP conducts a range of innovative food systems research. CHIP will continue to strategically conduct market research on the supply and demand for local food and leverage its repositories of data to grow the market for healthy, sustainable, and local foods. CHIP also uses its in-house research expertise to conduct data collection, analysis, and evaluation with and for other nonprofits, local governments, businesses, social enterprises, and foundations working to improve the food system.
The food systems work at CHIP developed through the San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative (COI). Since 2010 CHIP has led the San Diego County Farm to School Taskforce and Nutrition in Healthcare Leadership Team, two entities now leading food systems change in San Diego County schools and hospitals, respectively. These two initiatives developed as subcomittees of the COI’s Schools and After School Domain and Healthcare Domain.
Over the next several years, CHIP began focusing “upstream” in the food system by working with local farmers, distributors, institutions, businesses, local government, and fellow advocates to grow the market for healthy, fresh, sustainable, local food. Starting in 2013, CHIP has hosted annual workshops for growers interested in selling to institutions as well as the annual Let’s Go Local! Produce Showcase. CHIP has also become a leading entity in food systems research and data collection through annual reports such as The State of Farm to School in San Diego County and its growers database, which it maintains and shares with multi-sectoral partners to advance regional food systems efforts. By strategically leveraging its relationships and data, CHIP has helped broker deals between buyers and sellers of local food worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
CHIP has emerged as an important partner in many local, regional, and state food systems initiatives. It serves as the regional lead for the California Farm to School Network (which is facilitated by the Community Alliance with Family Farmers), leads the local efforts of Healthcare Without Harm’s Healthy Food in Healthcare Program, is an active member of the San Diego Food Systems Alliance, and more.