ROC and ROC Projects in the News

ROC in print and on radio, TV, and the web.

Advocates are pushing for a health equity and racial justice fund in California. Here’s what it would do.

April 22, 2022 Roots of Change

Genoveva Islas stood at the steps of the state Capitol Friday morning facing a crowd of dozens. She shouted: “El pueblo unido avanza sin partido.”

The crowd echoed her back: “The people united advance without parties.”

Islas founded the organization Cultiva La Salud, which is part of a coalition of 25 legislators, 11 co-sponsors and almost 200 organizations asking Gov. Gavin Newsom set aside at least $100 million in ongoing funding in his upcoming budget proposal for the Health Equity and Racial Justice Fund.

You can read the full story on Capradio.

Residentes del Valle quieren equidad en salud y justicia racial para sus comunidades

Roots of Change

Benita Vásquez quiere “equidad e igualdad en los seguros médicos”. Mientras que la pancarta de Maricela Sagrero dice “queremos igualdad y respeto. No a la discriminación”. Los mensajes de Vásquez y Sagrero son claros, ellas quieren equidad para su comunidad.


You can read the full story in the Fresno Bee.

Health Equity & Racial Justice Fund Rally in Los Angeles, April 19, 2022

April 20, 2022 Roots of Change

Coverage on KNX News Radio on the Health Equity & Racial Justice Fund Rally in Los Angeles, April 19, 2022

You can hear the full story on KNX News Radio.

Opinion: California Must Step Up to Address Racism as a Public Health Crisis

January 18, 2022 Roots of Change

Governor Gavin Newsom and other California lawmakers took an important step toward improved public safety and racial justice this fall by passing the CRISES Act to fund community-based emergency response programs.

Police violence disproportionately victimizes people experiencing mental health or substance use crises. Solutions such as the CRISES Act provide funding to community groups to respond to emergencies in ways that provide better care and reduce harm. Newsom vetoed the bill in 2020 even after police officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd and nationwide protests brought widespread recognition to the often-fraught role of police as first responders.

Photo by James Rice/iStock

You can read the full story on California Health Report.

California, keep funding every part of public health

December 16, 2021 Roots of Change

By Assemblymember Jim Wood, and Genoveva Islas, Special to CalMatters and executive director of Cultiva la Salud.

State leaders should keep their promise and continue to support organizations that play a critical role in public health.

When Cultiva La Salud partnered with Saint Agnes Medical Center to deliver vaccines to farm laborers in rural Fresno County – where essential workers were placing their lives on the line to feed us despite growing infections and deaths – no one told them a nonprofit shouldn’t be promoting health in their community.

When the Ukiah Valley Conference Center volunteered to host an emergency vaccine clinic after a freezer failure at Adventist Health Ukiah Valley, which meant vaccine doses needed to be administered immediately, no one said a conference center isn’t public health.

Image source: CalMatters

You can read the full story on CalMatters.

Commentary: Secretary Vilsack, don’t invest in a broken system

November 3, 2021 Roots of Change

I own a small on-farm USDA inspected red meat and poultry slaughter and processing plant. Each year, we raise, process and market as much as a million pounds of pastured pork and poultry.

As a small processor, a current and past member of USDA advisory committees, and as an industry advocate, I want the U.S.  Department of Agriculture to stand firm to its commitment to strengthen local and regional food systems and support U.S. farmers and ranchers. Existing small scale processors are essential to this goal, but need urgent support.

You can read the full story on Capital Press.

Guest column: Resilience for farmworkers and farms key to Ventura County’s future

Roots of Change

The warming climate is bad news for all of us. In Ventura County, however, few are as vulnerable to its dangers as farmers and farmworkers.

The reason is pretty simple. With few exceptions, farming takes place outdoors. And although there are many agricultural jobs inside packing and processing facilities, greenhouses and industrial settings, most agricultural labor is likewise performed outside, in our rich landscape of fields and orchards.

You can read the full story in the VC Star.

California must reform meat supply chain if Sacramento wants to stay Farm to Fork capital

September 16, 2021 Michael R. Dimock

Amid Sacramento’s annual Farm to Fork celebration, a glaring contradiction remains: The pandemic and this summer’s ransomware attack on JBS (the world’s largest meat processor) disrupted the four industrial processors centered in the Midwest and South. Together they supply the vast majority of California’s meat.

California’s small- and mid-scale livestock and poultry producers lost access to local processing as large-scale producers that usually export animals to the industrial plants took over the state’s small processors. COVID-19 sickened thousands of plant workers, hundreds died and tens of millions in lost wages resulting from the closures, particularly harming rural communities.

These events showed that the concentration of processing is dangerous. California must act to increase our own meat supply chain resilience, protect workers and aid rural communities.

You can read the full story in the Sacramento Bee.

Op-Ed: California Health Equity Fund Will Improve Health and Resilience Through Healthy Food Systems

June 23, 2021 Michael R. Dimock

Access to healthy food systems impacts every aspect of our lives.

When hungry stomachs diminish students’ ability to focus, learn, and retain information, their education suffers. In adults, lack of access to nutritious foods leads to overall poor health and chronic illnesses such as heart disease, hypertension and type 2 diabetes – negatively impacting their ability to work and provide for their families.

This year we witnessed how COVID-19 has preyed on Californians living with chronic illnesses, especially people of color who often live in “food deserts” where healthy food is less available.

Roots of Change and others are working to remedy food injustices such as these, but the stark realities exposed by COVID-19 demonstrate more help is needed, and needed now. The Health Equity and Racial Justice Fund and Governor Newsom can make a difference.

The Senate and Assembly Budget Committee has recommended an unprecedented $100 million annual investment that would support community-based organizations, clinics and tribal organizations to address the root causes of health inequities. Our vision is that organizations awarded these funds will use state and local data to identify the most pressing needs in their community and develop strategies to address them.

The proposal builds on Assemblymembers Gipson and Carillo’s bill, AB 1038, calling for the establishment of a California Health Equity Fund which has passed in the Assembly with strong bipartisan support. The Governor must now agree to support the bill and budget proposal.

Current programs the Fund may be used to support include the California Nutrition Incentive Program (CNIP) which provides CalFresh families with matching dollars to “make fresh affordable,” and the Healthy Corner Stores Refrigeration Grant Program that provides bodegas and corners stores in low-income communities with refrigeration units and technical assistance so they can sell fresh produce.

The Fund could also be used to support the Medi-Cal Food Prescription Pilot Program, another proposal pending in the Legislature. Through this program, Medi-Cal beneficiaries would receive healthy food “prescriptions” if their health providers determined their underlying health conditions could be helped by a healthier diet. Prescriptions could include produce, healthy food vouchers, food boxes, groceries or prepared meals.

Another use of the California Health Equity Fund could be supporting the School Food Hub Pilot program, a proposal to create “food hubs” throughout the state that help identify, market, and distribute locally-sourced, healthy foods to California school districts, not only helping to ensure better nutrition for students, but also supporting local farmers and rural communities who have been hard hit by COVID-19.

Healthy food access on a daily basis can prevent disease and better defend our communities against viruses like COVID-19. Through the California Health Equity Fund, we can address this current health crisis, help avoid billions in future health care costs, and strengthen our communities so they are better prepared to face challenges brought on by pandemics, climate change, and natural disasters.

California is the greatest source of healthy food the planet has ever seen. There is no excuse for so many communities to go without. Particularly when we can harness that abundance to improve public health. AB 1038 will invest in communities hardest hit by the pandemic, help them recover from the physical and economic loss caused by the virus, build healthier communities, and ensure Californians are more resilient in the advent of future crises. We call on Governor Newsom to support the proposed funding for the Health Equity and Racial Justice Fund and to pass and sign AB 1038.

Roots of Change is a co-sponsor of AB 1038. The nonprofit organization works together with universities, governments, businesses and like-minded organizations to ensure that every aspect of the food supply chain—from when it’s grown to when it’s eaten—will be healthy and accessible for all eaters, safe and fair to workers and profitable for companies.

(Image source: thegrowingcouncil.org)