Council Member Edward Pollard announced the establishment of the new Food Insecurity Board, which was approved by a unanimous vote by Houston City Council.
The Houston Food Insecurity Board will be an effective and comprehensive approach to addressing the issue of food insecurity by providing policy suggestions, guidance, and best practices to policymakers.
Over 738,000 Houstonians have little to no access to healthy food, and 360,000 children in Harris County are experiencing food insecurity. This includes over 500,000 Houstonians living in “food deserts” with little to no access to healthy food. Because of the pandemic, the Houston Food Bank distributes 1,000,000 pounds of food per day, compared to 450,000 pounds a day before COVID-19. After Winter Storm Uri, this number spiked to 1,200,000 pounds of food per day as mass distributions took place in worship spaces, schools, and parking lots throughout the city.
“Over the past year and a half, I have all been involved in numerous food distribution drives. I am continuously in awe of how many people wait for hours for basic food items. This drove me to find solutions to the food needs of our city and issues related to the root cause,” Pollard said. “In collaboration with the Minaret Foundation, I learned that Houston was one of the only major cities in the country that did not have a Food Insecurity Board. As such, my office worked diligently in order to create this board before the new year so we could begin 2022 ensuring that this issue would be a top priority at city hall.”
The Food Insecurity Board will consist of 19 members, who will each serve one-year terms, with the first term expiring on January 2, 2023. The members include:
Shariq Abdul Ghani (Chair of the Board), Valhalla Clack, Billyssia Pierce, Gabrielle S. Dirden, Warren B. Luckett, Kandace Cooks, Charmaine A. LeBlanc, Sandra Rodríguez, Vipin Kumar, Zahoor A. Gire, Rudy Rasmus, Kathy Flanagan-Payton, Megan Hoag, Shannon G. Strother, Nipa Kamdar, Katherine H. Byers, Daphne C. Hernandez, Tanweer Kaleemullah, and Lisa Helfman.
Within the first two years, the Food Insecurity Board is expected to focus on key food, nutrition, and agriculture policy issues and opportunities that are affected by government and legislation; create recommended policy priorities that best suit the needs of Houston, with an emphasis on community food security; and educate the public and policymakers about food system.