ImproveSF Food Justice Challenge: San Franciscans Compete To Solve Hunger Downtown (VIDEO)

Mayor Ed Lee announced a new ImproveSF challenge on Monday aimed at solving the food justice issue in the Central Market and Tenderloin neighborhoods.

"Access to fresh, healthy food is a tremendous challenge in some of our neighborhoods, particularly for those most vulnerable in areas like Central Market and the Tenderloin," said Lee in a release. "This ImproveSF challenge allows us to use innovation to focus resources and develop real solutions that we can use throughout the City."


ImproveSF, which launched in April, is an online brainstorming platform that invites community members to present solutions to major city problems. Using social media, participants compete to solve featured "challenges" and win prizes. Past challenges have included a SFMTA logo redesign and a transit time efficiency plan.

Judges for the food justice challenge include District Supervisor Jane Kim, Farmer Brown Executive Chef Jay Foster, Hub Mission CEO Cory Smith and others. Winners will win a "dream day in SF" and a membership and mentorship opportunity from Hub Mission.

As of Monday afternoon, eleven ideas including community potlucks, an SRO property tax and afterschool cooking classes, were already submitted.

Serious health concerns in the Tenderloin and Central Market areas have shined a spotlight on the neighborhoods in recent years. According to the Department of Public Health, the average life expectancy of residents in those neighborhoods is 20 years lower than the rest of San Francisco, and the average rate of hospitalization for congestive heart failure and uncontrolled diabetes is nearly five times higher.

In 2010, the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation launched the Tenderloin People's Garden, a community garden aimed at battling the "food desert" in the neighborhood. The Tenderloin is the only neighborhood in San Francisco without a full-service grocery store.

“Providing access to nutritious food and fostering healthy eating habits within our community is a key component of the social justice work that we have undertaken with our Tenderloin and South of Market community leaders,” said Supervisor Kim in a release. “Whether it’s addressing a lack of access to a kitchen facility or to affordable fresh produce, our residents are actively engaged in piloting new ways to achieve food justice. ImproveSF is an exciting opportunity to fuse their experiences and ideas with on-going tech innovations. I’m looking forward to joining our residents in picking the next ImproveSF challenge winner.”

Watch Mayor Ed Lee's introductory video about the ImproveSF challenges in the video below: