Mayor Wu Appoints Aliza Wasserman as Director of Food Justice
August 6, 2022
Mayor Michelle Wu today announced the appointment of Aliza Wasserman as the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Food Justice (OFJ). The Office of Food Justice is charged with building a local food system that is equitable, resilient, sustainable, and just. As Director, Wasserman is charged with leading OFJ to make nutritious, affordable, and culturally relevant food accessible to all Boston residents while accelerating climate action.
“In Boston, food should be a force for justice. Aliza’s experience with public health and food policy will drive our work to make nutritious, culturally-relevant food more accessible for all of our residents and advance our climate goals, ” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “I am thrilled to welcome Aliza back to city government and look forward to collaborating on policies and programs that nourish, connect, and uplift our communities.”
The Mayor’s Office of Food Justice focuses on five pillars to make nutritious, affordable food accessible in Boston. These include investing in Boston’s food economy, supporting Boston’s food chain workers, expanding access to affordable food that is also culturally appropriate and nutritious, leveraging public procurement to deliver good food for Boston residents and strengthen our supply chains, and empowering a wide coalition of food system advocates and community members to advocate for policies at the city, state and federal levels.
"I am thrilled to join the team to advance Mayor Wu's food justice agenda in collaboration with every part of city government,” said Aliza Wasserman. “As we build a more resilient, equitable city, the Office of Food Justice will work alongside Boston residents to advance a vision of food justice that acknowledges the injustices of the past while building new systems that reflect our shared values."
Originally from New York, Aliza found her home and commitment to serving the City of Boston during her six years as a policy analyst for Intergovernmental Relations at the Boston Public Health Commission. Aliza’s background is in public health and food policy, and she has spent the past seven years leading technical assistance, policy advocacy and program implementation work in Washington, DC with Wholesome Wave, National League of Cities, and DC Greens. In Washington, Aliza developed and advocated for federal policies that make it easier for cities across the country to improve access to affordable fresh produce, including through paying for prescriptions for fruits and vegetables to prevent chronic illness from worsening. She also developed a community of practice, training and tools for municipal elected officials and staff from around the country to disrupt structural racism as a cause of inequities in their cities.
Throughout the pandemic, she led Washington, DC’s citywide fresh produce program to innovate by integrating home delivery, streamlining enrollment through the city’s Department of Aging, partnering with mutual aid organizations and embedding produce pickups at several dozen community sites around the city, while integrating a racial equity rubric into the program’s vendor contracting model.
Aliza holds masters degrees in Food Policy & Applied Nutrition and Public Health from Tufts University. She lives in Roslindale and enjoys its farmers market and long standing small food businesses. In her free time, Aliza relishes any opportunity she has to spend with her niece and nephew.
“The Mayor’s Office of Food Justice is committed to Mayor Wu's vision for a bold, equitable approach to food systems that gets nutritious food to all residents, while enhancing the health of the planet and our local economy,” said Reverend Mariama White-Hammond, Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space. “I am excited about Aliza’s expertise in the food justice space and I look forward to working with her on our collective goals.”
In February, Mayor Wu re-launched the Office of Food Justice – formerly the Office of Food Access – as part of the Environment, Energy and Open Space Cabinet. Mayor Wu also announced the creation of GrowBoston: Office of Urban Agriculture to increase food production throughout Boston and support local farmers and gardeners. This appointment of Wasserman expands upon the Mayor’s commitment to improving the accessibility and affordability of nutritious food in Boston and strengthening local food systems to mitigate the impacts of the climate crisis.
The Office of Food Justice will be working closely with GrowBoston in a shared effort to transform our local food system. This includes partnering to provide low-income residents with garden beds through a $2.5 million ARPA investment. Recently, Mayor Wu and the Mayor’s Office of Food Justice announced that over 120 Boston Summer Eats Program meal sites opened July 5, 2022, running throughout the summer. Additionally, the Office of Food Justice is operating the Farmers Market Coupon Program for the third year. The goal of the Farmers Markets Coupon Program is to support households who do not qualify for federal and state programs, including but not limited to immigrants and refugees. This year, the Mayor’s Office of Food Justice has partnered with more than 20 community-based organizations to distribute farmers market coupons to food-insecure households in Boston, including Allston-Brighton, Charleston, Chinatown, Dorchester, East Boston, Mattapan, Roslindale, Roxbury, and South Boston.
For more information about food resources available, visit here.