Tag Archives: Martin Bourque

Soda tax brings needed cash to gardening program

BUSD's cooking and gardening program has been in need of financial support since federal funding was slashed in 2013. Photo: Kaia Diringer
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The Berkeley Unified School District’s beleaguered cooking and gardening program will see a welcome injection of funds as a result of revenues accrued from Measure D, the so-called soda tax, approved by city residents last November.

On Thursday, June 4, a panel appointed to allocate taxes collected from the sugar-sweetened beverage tax recommended $250,000 be advanced to the cooking and gardening program.

It was announced May 18 that the soda tax had raised $116,000 in its first month of operation.

The Berkeley City Council is set to vote to approve the panel’s recommendation by June 30, while the Berkeley School Board is slated to finalize its budget June 10 with the knowledge that the funding is essentially secured. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s Ecology Center gets $3.7 million grant

Shoppers at the Tuesday Farmers' Market. Photo: Nancy Rubin
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The federal government awarded one of its first Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive grants to the Ecology Center on Wednesday, which will allow the Berkeley group to greatly expand its program to get fresh fruits and vegetables to people who use food stamps.

The Ecology Center got a $3.7 million, two-year grant, one of more than $31.5 million in grants handed out nationally to assist people in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Mandela Marketplace, in Oakland was the other local recipient. It received$422,500.

“Our goal is to increase the health of Californians by increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables and to provide additional, sustainable economic development for these pioneering farmers who are at our farmers markets,” said Martin Bourque, the executive director of the 45-year-old Ecology Center. … Continue reading »

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Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg donates $85,000 to support Berkeley’s proposed soda tax

Michael Bloomberg
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Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who fought unsuccessfully to establish a cap on the size of soda portions sold in that city, has donated $85,000 to the Yes on Measure D campaign.

His contribution – the largest the soda tax advocates have gotten to date – is one of three significant donations made by national groups in recent days, according to Josh Daniels, the co-chair of the campaign. The American Heart Association recently gave $23,000 and the Center for Science in the Public Interest kicked in $15,000. … Continue reading »

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Field trip highlights programs in food-forward Berkeley

Foraging at the farmers' market.
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Tomorrow, Bay Area Green Tours co-hosts a food field trip spotlighting some of the best of Berkeley’s alternative food systems. It’s part of the 15th Annual Community Food Security Coalition Conference, which runs today through Tuesday in Oakland. The Community Food Security Coalition is a national nonprofit dedicated to creating a food movement that is healthy, sustainable, and just.

The national conference draws sustainable food advocates, anti-hunger experts, and food policy wonks from around the country. The Food Sovereignty tour, which is open to the public (though now sold out), introduces participants to community food gardens, farmers’ markets, school food, and alternative food businesses in this town, which, of course, is well known for its food-forward agenda. … Continue reading »

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Food Day: Growing a movement around what we eat

Tara xx Farm: one of the farms on Ecology Center tour to mark Food Day
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Can Food Day, which is on October 24th, do for the growing food movement what Earth Day did for the nascent environmental movement back in 1970?

The organizers, the Center for Science in the Public Interest in D.C., certainly hope so. A national, grassroots campaign, Food Day is designed to celebrate what we eat while drawing our attention to the need to overhaul this country’s food system from farm to fork. In this way it is similar to Earth Day which sparked widespread interest in the fragile nature of our planet.

Events planned for Monday, including in Berkeley and around the Bay Area, will highlight the good, bad, and ugly of the way we consume food in this country.

Simply put, how we grow, transport, process, market, and eat is not sustainable for the environment or our health, said Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of CSPI and the creator of Food Day in a recent piece for The Atlantic. Dietary diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart attacks are rising at alarming rates. Industrially raised meat sucks up energy, pollutes the land and water, and is cruel to beast and worker alike.

Even in places like Berkeley where local, seasonal, organic, sustainable, and fresh food is available in abundance, too many people lack access to good grub and/or go hungry or malnourished. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s new recycling carts: How it’s going so far

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Martin Bourque, Executive Director of the Ecology Center, which has the contract for residential manages all recycling in Berkeley, sends in this report on the impact of the new split recycling carts which most city residents should now have received. He also addresses many of our readers’ questions and comments. (See the varied views on this issue with Berkeleyside’s previous coverage.)

Our first weeks of collection with carts have demonstrated a 20% lift … Continue reading »

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