Roots of Change is a think and do tank, which means we take thoughtful and strategic action to change the food system. We believe government has a necessary and significant role to catalyze food and farming policies that put people and communities first. This page provides ways for interested people to lend a hand in our work, specifically through civic action.
2019 Policy Work
Advocating for a Budget Request
ROC will advocate for the Healthy Soils Program to receive $50 million per year in order to achieve the California’s 2030 goal of 1 million acres of carbon capturing soil.
Advocating for Administrative Change
Policies can be changed by government agencies that alter their administrative procedures. This year we will work with California Department of Food and Agriculture to support small poultry producers seeking to legally sell to restaurants, retailers and farmers markets those rabbits or birds slaughtered on their farm.
Advocating for Legislation
We will be writing letters, asking you to write and call and using our social media channels to advocate for the following bills before the Legislature this year. Bills are categorized by the issue areas defined in collaboration with the California Food Policy Council and the California Food and Farming Network. Bolded segments identify where ROC will actively advocate in the Capitol building and in district offices.
Food Chain Worker Advancement
Food chain workers constitute 20% of the nation’s workforce and are also the lowest paid. Given the systematic attack on unions in the last two decades at the federal level, California must do all it can to support food chain workers seeking livable wages, safe conditions and respectful treatment by employers.
AB 5 Fair classification of workers. Author Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (South San Diego).
Stops companies from misclassifying their workers as independent contractors in order to lower employer obligations.
AB 1066 Unemployment Insurance for Striking Workers. Author Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher
Increases capacity of food chain workers to strike by providing revenue when striking.
Improved Access to Healthy Food and Beverages
Improving access to healthy food is a way to combat a root cause of obesity and the diabetes epidemics for the least resourced families and seniors living in our great state and who suffer disproportionately from these diet-related maladies.
AB 138 California Community Health Fund. Richard Bloom (Santa Monica)
SEEKING TO AMEND
Taxes sugary beverage distributors to create a California Community Health Fund to support prevention and treatment of disease.
SB 200 Safe & Affordable Drinking Water Fund. Bill Monning (Carmel)
Provides clean water in area where it does not exist with funds from a fee on fertilizer, dairies and water users.
SB 285 CalFresh Connect. Author Anthony Wiener (San Francisco)
Improves CalFresh improve enrollment, especially among those receiving Medi-Cal with special attention to seniors through simplified applications and retention systems.
AB 534 Plan for a Hunger-Free California. Author Chad Mayes (Yucca Valley)
Requires a multiagency plan to end hunger in California and creation of grant program to develop rural food hubs.
AB 764 Sugary beverage marketing limits. Author Rob Bonta (Alameda)
Restricts beverage companies from offering and funding certain promotional and marketing activities for sugar-sweetened beverages.
AB 765 Healthy Checkout Aisles for Healthy Families Act. Author Buffy Wicks (Oakland)
Requires a store to place only milk and natural fruit and vegetable juice in the checkout areas of the store.
AB 1022 California Anti-Hunger Response & Employment Training Act. Author Buffy Wicks (Oakland)
Establishes a training program to fight hunger among individuals who have been determined ineligible for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by a cruel federal time limit.
Improved School Food Environments
It is essential that we feed our kids well because their futures are in large measure determined by their nutritional intake. For the 2 million California kids living in poverty, school meals are a vital source of nutrition. For the good of our state we must be good to our kids.
SB 499 CA-Grown for Healthy Kids Act. Mike McGuire (Healdsburg)
Provides 10 cents more to meal budgets for the purchase of fresh, CA-grown fruits and vegetables by school districts or charters that provide free breakfast and lunch in high-poverty schools.
AB 842 Hunger-Free Preschool. Monique Lemon (Santa Barbara) and Susan Eggman (Stockton)
Ensures that all low-income, public preK students have access to a free or reduced-price meals and all childcare providers utilizing the ChildCare Food Program receive supplemental state funding.
AB 958 Organic-to-School Pilot Program. Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (Winters)
Creates a pilot competitive grant program for public school districts to receive up to 15 cents extra per meal to support procurement of California-grown organic foods.
Ecological Agriculture and Food Production
Agriculture is currently a primary cause of ecological degradation, but this need not be the case. By creating the right incentives and tools more farmers and ranchers will join the early adopters to become solutions to ecological challenges.
SB 45 Wildfire, Drought, and Flood Protection Bond Act of 2020. Bill Dodd (Napa)
Funds alternative agriculture practices that promote healthy soils, climate resilience, sustainable groundwater management and carbon sequestration and more.
AB 293 Greenhouse Gases: Ag Lands Offsets. Eduardo Garcia (Coachella)
Requires adoption of additional greenhouse gas offsets to enhance management, conservation or restoration of natural, wetlands and agricultural lands.
AB 409 Ag Adaptation Tools. Monique Limon (Santa Barbara)
Establishes a grant program to aid farmers and ranchers who work to increase resilience of their operations and prioritizes support for small-scale and farmers of color.
SB 458 Protect Children from Brain Damaging Chlorpyrifos. Maria Elena Durazo (Los Angeles)
Prohibits use of the neurotoxic insecticide chlorpyrifos in California.
Economic Viability of Local Food & Small-Scale Agriculture
Local food systems are essential for community resilience and these local systems are based on local and usually small-scale producers. We must reshape law to favor small local producers of large industrial producers.
AB 986 Agricultural Land. Robert Rivas (Hollister)
Creates a grant program that will aid in planning to support socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers to access land.
2018 Policy Work
ROC has succeeded again by winning one of the two legislative campaigns we led this year. We expanded the California Nutrition Incentive Act and its grant program that makes fresh food affordable. We actually did it through the budget process rather than the bill AB 2335. The bill’s author, Assemblymember Phil Ting (San Francisco), Chair of the Budget Committee, used the language of AB 2335 to complete a budget bill that was passed and signed by the Governor. With tremendous public support from chefs, consumers, retailers and farmers, the Assembly Agriculture Committee passed with bipartisan support our Small Poultry Producer Protection Act AB 2909, authored by Assemblymember Jim Wood (Healdsburg). Sadly, the Assembly Appropriations Committee killed the bill which eliminated outdated and unnecessary regulations. We will reintroduce our proposal next year. Learn more details about the bills below.
AB 2909 The Small Poultry Producers Protection Act
(Dr. Jim Wood, Healdsburg)
Until now, the small poultry and rabbit farmers of the state have been unfairly restricted from growing their businesses by outdated regulations. The bill for the first time allows farmers of 20,000 or less birds and rabbits to hire non-family members to raise and process animals on the farm. It also for the first time allows the same producers to become an “approved source.” This permits them to sell to hotels, restaurants, retail grocers or food service companies if the farmer registers with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and abides by the department’s guidelines for animal welfare and food safety practices, including source traceability. It is a common sense approach aligned with the farm-to-fork values of the state and four CDFA strategic goals: Ease the Burden of Regulation on Agriculture While Maintaining Health, Safety and Environmental Standards; Assure a Strong Labor Force through Fairness to Agricultural Workers and Employers; Promote Robust Regional Markets for All California Producers; and Cultivate the Next Generation of Farmers and Ranchers.
⇒ Link to AB 2909 Fact Sheet
⇒ Download Sample Support Letters for:
Please join our list of supporters be emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. In the email state your name, zip code and support for AB 2909 and we will add you to the list and share your support with the Legislature. Thank you!
Supporters of Record
- Agricultural Institute of Marin (Beth Schecter)
- Alvaro Garza
- Bacon and Butter (Amber Michel and Billy Zoellin)
- Bay Area Green Tours (Marissa LaManga)
- Big Night Restaurant Group (Emily Luchetti)
- BiteRite Market (Sam Mogannam)
- Boulettes Larder + Boulibar (Amaryll Schwertner)
- Border Grill (Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken)
- Boulevard (Dana Younkin)
- Brown Sugar Kitchen (Tanya Holland)
- California Institute for Rural Studies (Gail Wadsworth)
- Center for Land-based Learning (Mary Kimball)
- Community Alliance with Family Farmers (David Runsten)
- Chez Panisse (Alice Waters)
- Danielle Charney
- Davero Farms and Winery (Colleen McGlynn)
- Denis Paull
- Devils Gulch Ranch (Mark Pasternak)
- Dorothy Janke
- Elaine Benjamin
- Earth Fire Family Farm (Katrina Schultz)
- Fogline Farm (Caleb Barron)
- Foreign Cinema (Gayle Pirie and Andrew Dovel)
- Green Star Farm (Sarah Silver)
- Humboldt Food Policy Council (May Patiño)
- Karen Meyer
- Kitchen Table Consultants (Rebecca Frimmer)
- Jardinière (Traci de Jardins)
- Linda Jones
- Marissa La Brecque, Founder Butchers Guild & Author
- Marlowe (Jose Campos)
- Mulvaney’s B&L (Patrick Mulvaney)
- OZ Family Farm (Kelly Osman)
- Old Grove Orange (Bob Knight)
- Parade Farming Company (Chris Robb, new farmer)
- Parkside Tavern (Larry Doyle)
- Paula LeDuc Fine Catering (Daniel Capra)
- Paula Shatkin
- Peg Champion
- Petit Marlowe (Brenda Aguilar)
- Petra Martinez-Diaz
- Preserve Farm Kitchens (Merrilee Olson)
- Rancho Llano Seco & Olivia Tincany & Co. (Olivia Tincani)
- Rashid Patch
- Rebecca Thistlethwaite
- San Diego Food Systems Alliance (Elly Brown)
- Savory Café Restaurant (Juan Barajas)
- Seaglass Restaurant & Curiosity Catering (Lorreta Keller)
- SHED (Douglas & Cindy Lipton)
- Shelley Albar
- Sherrill Futrell
- Skye Lark Ranch (Alexis and Gillies Robertson)
- Slow Food Sonoma County North (Carol Diaz)
- Slow Food Russian River (Paula Downing)
- Sonia Flowers
- Susan Hagemeister
- Susan Israel
- Sustainable Economies Law Center (Christina Oatfield)
- Table Bluff Farm (Hannah Eisloeffel)
- Tara Kamath
- The Cavalier (Carlos Kuk)
- The Local Butcher Shop (Aaron Rocchino)
- The Rockin R (Bryce Rauterkus, new farmer)
- V. Miller Meats
- Zazu Kitchen + Farm (Duskie Estes)
This bill builds on ROC’s previous success in creating the CA Nutrition Incentives Program in 2015 and winning a $5 million General Fund appropriation in 2016, under the legislative leadership of Assemblyman Ting. This update of the CNIP creates a pilot grant program in several counties to extend the nutrition incentive program to corner stores in under-resourced communities. Typically corner stores, which may be the only store in a neighborhood, do not offer fresh produce. The bill creates a $5 million grant program to outfit corners stores with refrigerated display boxes and technical assistance in healthy retail procedures. At the same time, ROC is seeking through the budget process $10 million for the existing CNIP grant program that serves CalFresh families buying fresh produce at farmers markets, farm stands and from Community Supported Agriculture projects. We are thrilled that Oakland’s Rob Bonta has joined forces with San Francisco’s Phil Ting to move the legislation forward. Both are true champions of food justice!
Please join our list of supporters be emailing email@example.com. In the email state your name, zip code and support for AB 2335 and we will add you to the list and share your support with the Legislature. Thank you!
Supporters of Record
- American Cancer Society
- American Heart Association, Co-Sponsor
- Bay Area Green Tours
- California Institute for Rural Studies
- California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN)
- Center for Food Safety
- Craig McNamara, Sierra Orchards
- Danielle Charney
- Ecology Center
- Environmental Working Group
- Farm to Pantry
- Fitness Collaborative of the Central Coast
- Food Chain Workers Alliance
- GMO Free California
- Humboldt Food Policy Council
- Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, Co-Sponsor
- Locally Delicious
- Los Angeles Food Policy Council
- Lucy Hicks
- Mulvaney’s B&L
- Natural Resources Defense Council
- Occidental Arts & Ecology Center
- Orange County Food Access Coalitio
- Peg Champion
- Pesticide Action Network
- Prevention Institute
- Public Health Advocates
- Public Health Institute, Co-Sponsor
- Rashid Patch
- San Diego Food Systems Alliance
- Shelley Albar
- Sherrill Futrell
- Sierra Harvest
- Sonia Flores
- Social Justice Learning Institute
2017 Policy Work
ROC’s top priority remains passage of a statewide tax on sugary beverages. We do this because the effort to make healthy, local and sustainable food and agriculture the norm requires a revenue stream. Surprisingly, California under invests in its food and farms. Only about 15% of the Department of Food and Agriculture’s budget comes from state coffers. Those investments that are made from California’s General Fund are not always on the changes we’d prioritize. Therefore the tax, which would raise hundreds of millions annually for food system investment, is imperative. ROC co-leads a large coalition of public health, food justice and sustainable agriculture organizations fighting for the passage of a tax measure. Such measures are hard to win because legislators naturally fear raising taxes that might anger constituents.
This year, the Legislature is not considering our previous bill, AB 2782 The Healthy California Fund, because the leadership in the Assembly did not believe it could pass out of the Health Committee. Consequently, using a parliamentary procedure, the author of AB 2782, Assemblymember Richard Bloom (Santa Monica), placed a very generally written piece of similar legislation, AB 1003, in a hearing process. Over the late summer and fall, Bloom’s Select Committee on Prevention of Diabetes and Heart Disease will hold hearings on the bill and the tax concept in Sacramento, Fresno, Los Angeles and San Diego. To help build participation in these hearings and to place pressure on legislators in the Health Committee, ROC is organizing with many partners community listening sessions in ten regions of the state. These hearings and our work this summer on updated and refined language, will prepare our coalition to resubmit a bill into the legislative process in 2018. If you’d like to learn more or to participate in a session near you, please email us firstname.lastname@example.org.
ROC is advocating for many bills in the legislative process. Visit the California Legislation page to see the bills we are tracking.
2016 Policy Work
ROC successfully led the large coalition of food policy councils and allied nonprofits to convince the Legislature and Governor to fund the CA Nutrition Incentives Act (AB 1321, Phil Ting, San Francisco), which we sponsored and passed in 2015. Our action makes California the largest partner in the nation with USDA working to ensure that low income families receiving SNAP benefits (food stamps) can afford to buy healthy, fresh organic produce at farmers markets, farm stands and through CSA programs that deliver weekly boxes of farm fresh fruits and vegetables. This Act and funding improves nutrition for families most in need and it helps small organic farmers who work hard to deliver the best produce in the nation.
The campaign prompted no less than 127 organizations or high profile leaders to write the Legislature’s leadership and Governor in support of our call for funding. It generated over 1 million Twitter impressions to the Governor and Legislature and a Sacramento Bee Opinion Editorial in support. We won because the food movement spoke up!
ROC also actively supported two successful bills: the passage of Senate Bill 3 (Mark Leno, San Francisco), the minimum wage increase to help close the income gap and help lift food chain workers out of poverty, and Assembly Bill 1826 (Mark Stone, Santa Cruz), an update to the organic certification act lowering the burdens and fees on organic farmers.
We also worked with the California Climate and Agriculture Network and Community Alliance with Family Farmers to improve Senate Bill 1350 (Lois Wolk, Davis) to assist farmers and ranchers to improve our soils in order to better conserve water and recapture climate-harming carbon in the soil. The bill did not actually pass, but its intent was inserted into the 2016-17 budget bill and the California Department of Agriculture will implement the program proposed by Senator Wolk, providing $7.5 million for pilot projects. We believe this will lead to substantial funding for carbon capture and other sustainable farming practices in the future.
2015 Policy Work
In addition to working with a coalition of organizations pursuing soil-building advocacy, Roots of Change is co-sponsoring:
AB 1321 (Ting) — Nutrition Incentive Matching Grant Program
ROC is co-sponsoring AB 1321 with Ecology Center and Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, with Assemblymember Phil Ting (San Francisco) as lead author. Here is a synopsis for the policy we are pursuing, which would scale up a successful pilot that doubles the value of nutrition assistance benefits at farmers’ markets and small business retailers when used to purchase California grown fruits, nuts and vegetables. This bill is a win-win for California’s small- and mid-sized farmers, low-income Californians, and our state economy. It is a local economic development, anti-poverty and anti-hunger policy all rolled up into one bill — and it’s evidence-based. We also advocated for a line item in the state budget this year which made it into the Legislature’s budget but was deleted in the final budget agreement between Governor Brown and the legislative leadership.
Our coalition can use your support — click here to support the bill in its final step with Governor Brown! Here are a few resources in support of AB 1321 and the associated budget proposal:
- Fact sheet (updated 5/22/15)
- Sacramento Bee Joint Op-Ed by Michael Dimock & Shawn Harrison
- Copies of budget support letters sent to CDFA Secretary Karen Ross and Assemblymember Shirley Weber
- Frequently Asked Questions fact sheet
- Nutrition incentive stories from Humboldt, LA, Oakland & San Diego
- AB 1321 on LegInfo
On December 18, 2014, we had a one hour meeting with officials from the state Department of Food & Agriculture, Department of Social Services and Department of Public Health to discuss this statewide nutrition incentives program. We are working with our state agencies to find common ground for this program and have had multiple meetings since then. Listen to or download the meeting recording, along with the handouts:
AB 359 (Gonzalez) — Protecting Middle Class Grocery Jobs Through Worker Retention
Signed into law by Governor Brown on 8/17; read his signing statement!
ROC signed on to co-sponsor AB 359 with United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) and Community Food & Justice Coalition (CFJC), with Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez as lead author. In cases where a big grocery store (15,000 square feet or larger) undergoes a change of ownership, this bill provides extensive protections to eligible employees that have worked for the former grocery store owner for a minimum of six months. It is modeled after similar ordinances that have been enacted at the local level across the state.
Job security and stability among grocery store workers is an important priority given that almost a quarter of Californians are still under the poverty level and without a 90 day retention period, poverty rates would be further exacerbated. Also, here are some AB 359 resources:
- Fact Sheet (Updated 3/9/15)
- AB 359 on LegInfo
- Joint co-sponsor letter with Community Food & Justice Coalition
AB 1357 (Bloom) – Children and Family Health Promotion Program
ROC also signed on to co-sponsor this bill with the American Heart Association, Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment Advocacy & Leadership, CA Primary Care Association, CA Rural Indian Health Board, Council of Black Nurses LA, Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, Public Health Institute, Urban League and the 100 Black Men.
This bill would create the Children and Family Health Promotion Program, which will require a 2 cents per ounce fee on sugar drinks, with a portion of these funds going to the Department of Education for Farm-to-School and also to CDFA for supporting specialty crop sales and nutrition incentive programs. Unfortunately, the bill was killed in Assembly Health Committee with 10 No votes, 6 Ayes and the rest abstaining. It may be the
Here are some AB 1357 resources:
- AB1357 on LegInfo and put simply
- AB 1357 Rethink Your Drink infographic
- The evidence base for AB 1357
- Choose Health California fact sheets on obesity, diabetes and sugary drinks
- Potential job impacts?
- The Bigger Picture project
2014 Policy Work
AB 2385 (Ting) — Market Match Nutrition Incentive Program
In 2014, Assemblymember Phil Ting (San Francisco) authored AB 2385, sponsored by Roots of Change. This bill would have created the Market Match Nutrition Incentive Program within the California Department of Food and Agriculture. This program would have provided grants for farmers’ markets and potentially other direct producer-to-consumer venues (CSA, farm stands or corner stores) that help low-income Californians afford healthy fruits, nuts, and vegetables. AB 2385 would have maximized California’s ability to take advantage of $100 million in federal matching monies made available through the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program in the 2014 Farm Bill. Unfortunately, AB 2385 was held in Assembly Appropriations, despite the support from over 60 organizations.
AB 2385 Resources and Press
- ROC AB 2385 Page
- ROC AB 2385 Update
- AB 2385 on LegInfo
- Fact Sheet
- Editorial: Pound-foolish Democrats deny healthy food to poor people (Sacramento Bee, 6.15.2014)