An open letter to Mayor Marty Walsh
Congratulations on your 2’nd State of the City, Mr. Mayor. There are certainly accomplishments and initiatives to be proud of, one thing about elective office is that there are always things we can do better. Let me offer some thoughts on one area that has been largely neglected during your tenure, the Office of Food Initiatives.
I’m not here to suggest that food policy is the most pressing issue of the day. It doesn’t require micro managing it in any way, just setting some parameters where there is bang for the buck to be had, and let someone run with it. For instance, while homelessness can be a very visible sign of poverty and need, hunger is not. Childhood food insecurity in Massachusetts as a whole, is 16.5%, probably even higher in Boston. For all the talk about improving education, it is beyond a doubt that one way you can get children to learn better, is when they have a good breakfast to start. It also improves their health, keeping them in school, parents don’t have to lose time from work caring for them either. So how about an initiative that guarantees a healthy breakfast start to every Boston student?
For all the celebration about attracting GE to Boston, let’s not forget that small business is really the economic driver of the economy. To that end, a review all policies and programs related to food entrepreneurs operating in Boston should be undertaken. This should extend to commercial kitchen incubators, urban agricultural projects, individuals and food trucks. Policies, regulations and tax incentives to encourage all of these areas should be pursued as aggressively as attracting a GE, as they are better for the whole city in the long run.
Finally, wouldn’t it be great if the city had an event that celebrated all things related to urban food? Out on City Hall Plaza and out to the neighborhoods, a weekend where people could see the full range of how Boston is committed to growing the impact of a food economy to a healthy city. All those elements I referred to before, chef demos, anything to do with food in the city.
Ideas are easy. Commitment and follow through is where the rubber hits the road. The people of Boston are not as impressed by a GE deal, a Grand Prix or an Olympics. It’s celebrating and making the things we have better than they were. Better roads, better neighborhoods, better opportunities for our people. Better care of our children. I hope you can find time to think about these or other ideas. It’s not for Boston 2030, it’s for Boston now.