Assembly District 15 Candidates to Discuss Food and Farming Issues in the East Bay

Plus, California passes a slew of new food-related laws.


Jovanka Beckles and Buffy Wicks.
  • Jovanka Beckles and Buffy Wicks.

Our agricultural system doesn’t just affect the food on our plate; it also intersects with issues of climate justice, environmental concerns, and food equity, among others. That’s why an upcoming candidates’ forum will tackle these issues as they affect the East Bay — and the region.

“Food in the 15th,” to be held on Wednesday, Oct. 3, in Richmond, will feature Jovanka Beckles and Buffy Wicks, the two candidates running for Assembly District 15 in November. Moderated by Nina Ichikawa, policy director of the Berkeley Food Institute, the forum will give voters the chance to hear the candidates’ views on issues such as minimum wage, the affordability of food, soda taxes, immigration and labor issues, and agriculture’s impact on the environment. Audience members will also be able to submit questions for the candidates. California Food and Farming Network, a Sacramento-based coalition that represents 40 organizations statewide, is organizing the forum.

“One of the major hopes for this coalition is that these candidates understand that food and farming issues impact all of our lives,” said Beth Spitler, organizing and policy consultant at the Pesticide Action Network, a member of the California Food and Farming Network. “We really want to raise the profile of food and farming issues, and food equity issues, in particular, so the candidates are better acquainted with them, and so they know there’s a constituency in the East Bay and really all of California that will hold them accountable to these issues.”

Beckles is a Richmond city councilmember and Wicks worked on President Obama’s campaigns and served as deputy director of engagement in his administration. The district covers the northern part of the East Bay, including Richmond, El Cerrito, Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Piedmont, and parts of Oakland, among other areas.

The forum will be preceded by a free dinner provided by Urban Tilth, a Richmond-based organization, which will source the produce from its gardens and farms. Organizers will also offer Spanish translation as well as childcare for children who are potty-trained.

The event will take place at the Richmond Memorial Auditorium in the Bermuda Room (2540 Nevin Ave., Richmond) from 6:30-8 p.m. Admittance is free but attendees are asked to RSVP via Eventbrite to receive a ticket.

… In other food news, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a slate of bills that affect food: AB 626 (which we wrote about last week), allowing home cooks to legally sell their food; SB 946, which legalizes food vendors to sell on sidewalks; AB 1871, which guarantees free and reduced-price meals for charter school students; and AB 1884, which bans full-service restaurants from passing out plastic straws, unless someone asks for them. … Finally, there’s a new coffee shop in East Oakland: It’s A Grind recently opened in the Seminary Point shopping center (2521 Seminary Ave., Ste. #3, Oakland).