Food issues will be integrated into more undergraduate and graduate courses, catalogues of food-related courses will be developed, and demonstration gardens will be made available on each campus to increase opportunities for students to participate in experiential learning.

Data mining of existing information will be deployed to help develop insights and action plans for California agriculture and responses to climate change.

New policies will be enacted to allow small growers to serve as suppliers for UC campuses.

The food initiative will build on UC’s tradition of innovative agricultural research to support farmers and ranchers. Future efforts will build on work already begun by UC’s 10 campuses and its Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) to address internal and external issues with a variety of approaches.

UC research, for example, taught Californians how to remove salts from the alkali soils in the Central Valley, transforming that barren landscape into one of the world’s most productive farming regions, Napolitano noted in her presentation to the CDFA board.

Today, the World Food Center at UC Davis stands with 26 other centers dedicated to food and agriculture on that campus. Students and faculty at UC Santa Cruz are transforming the field of agroecology. The Berkeley Food Institute is studying the relationship between pest control, conservation, and food safety on Central Coast farms. The cutting-edge Healthy Campus Initiative at UCLA taps all members of the campus community.

The initiative is not limited to seeking any single solution or set of solutions to the myriad food issues confronting the world, Napolitano said.

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“The idea is to provide the intellectual and technical firepower, as well as the operational examples needed for communities in California and around the world to find pathways to a sustainable food future,” Napolitano said.

In describing the building blocks for the initiative, Napolitano noted that the university’s agricultural outreach and public service programs — in every California county and more than 100 nations — bring UC resources to individuals and communities to help them access safe, affordable and nutritious food while sustaining scarce natural resources.

The university’s work also will help inform and drive policy discussions from the local to the international levels, and expand partnerships with government agencies such as the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

“This initiative shows great vision and leadership from President Napolitano and the University of California,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross, “Climate change and population growth will greatly strain our ability to provide healthy food to people here and around the world.

“President Napolitano’s proposal to leverage the strategic assets of the entire UC organization makes it a valuable partner in addressing the significant challenges and opportunities for our production agriculture and food system.”