Maine has enacted legislation that gives cities and towns the option to regulate local food distribution without state regulatory control. The “food sovereignty” law, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, is designed to assist small local producers in selling their products by exempting them from state licensing and inspections provided that the products are sold for immediate home consumption or at community events. The law will not apply to any foodstuffs grown or processed for distribution outside of the community from which it comes. Supporters believe that the law will improve access to wholesome, nutritious and locally produced foods as well as help more budding farmers get started in the profession.
The Commission on Improving the Status of Children in Indiana has produced a free mobile app, the Information Sharing Guide, to help address communication and record-sharing problems within the state’s child welfare system. Parents can use the app to help gather documents about their child’s case, whether those records are medical, school, court, police, or child welfare related. The app also enables agencies and fieldworkers to quickly determine whether and how they can legally share records.
As the amount of online information grows and technology becomes increasingly sophisticated, Manhattan Beach, California, has been active in helping its older adults navigate the digital world. Over the last several years, students from Mira Costa High School have worked with the city’s Older Adult Program to offer informal Saturday morning technology sessions. Teens sit at different tables and provide instruction on topics such as smartphones, computers, or troubleshooting. The town provides the facility, room setup and cleanup, refreshments, and Dial-A-Ride transportation for the seniors. The program has expanded to include free classes taught by older adult volunteers, as well as home visits by volunteer retired computer experts to help older adults address home-based technology and connectivity issues. As the older adults gather experience and knowledge, they can become mentors for others and more connected with their communities and with their families.
A new campaign from the city of San Francisco is helping Bay Area residents to save money by paying them to do so. Under Saverlife, up to 1,000 residents can participate by saving at least $20 per month for six months, and will then be paid $10 for each month they were able to save, helping them to build an emergency savings fund and get into the habit of saving. They also receive weekly coaching tips. The city benefits, too, as personal financial issues can lead to public social service costs, as well as lost city revenues from unpaid property taxes or utility bills.
Cities from coast to coast continue to break new ground in tackling homeless with data- and tech-based collaborations that allow different groups to share information more efficiently and quickly. For example, Bergen County, New Jersey, has combined biometrics with a robust platform that tracks information concerning its homeless population. Seattle has worked with its various providers to begin tracking data in measures such as exits to permanent housing and utilization rate of shelters. And New York City is launching an app that allows outreach workers to communicate with each other and record real-time data in the field.