Below is a collection of resources and announcements from April to June, 2015. A roundup of news articles from that period is also available. This information was originally included in our Spring 2015 newsletter, a copy of which can be found in our newsletter archive.
Community Recommendations to the NYS Food Hubs Task Force
These recommendations come from a group of grassroots thought leaders of color, working in New York City and nationally to promote economic self determination and food sovereignty for communities of color through a variety of projects related to urban agriculture. The Center for Social Inclusion assists with policy idea development, solidifying relationships and thinking through strategy.
OneNYC And Food
One New York is the de Blasio administration’s plan for a “strong and just City,” a comprehensive plan for a sustainable and resilient city for all New Yorkers that addresses the profound social, economic, and environmental challenges that face our city. OneNYC builds on prior long-term sustainability plans for New York City (previously PlaNYC), expanding on the critical targets established under previous plans, as well as on the work of the de Blasio administration over the last 16 months. The NYC Food Policy Center went through the plan and summarized those sections dealing with food issues.
NYC Mayor’s Office to Study Food Supply Vulnerabilities
Last year, the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency (ORR) announced a request for proposals, issued through the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), seeking an expert team to study New York City’s food supply and distribution networks in order to better understand these systems and their vulnerabilities as a part of the City’s resiliency plan. The study will begin soon, and will also be used to develop alternative operating procedures in response to system interruptions, allowing the City to alleviate stress on critical networks and helping it be more prepared for future events, improving food security for all New Yorkers.
City of New Haven Establishes a Food System Director Position
The New Haven Food Policy Council (NHFPC) is excited to announce that the City of New Haven has made an innovative move by establishing a Food System Director position with the approval of the 2015-16 budget on May 26th. The budget includes matching dollars to fully fund the Food System Director position, as recommended in the New Haven Food Action Plan. The New Haven Food System Director will be one of a small but growing group of similar positions across the country that are uniquely positioned to address vital issues related to food, including health and community development. The New Haven Food Policy Council will work closely with the City of New Haven Community Services Administration to conduct a national search to fill the position within the next 2-3 months. For info, contact Alycia Santilli.
$31M For Fruit & Veg Purchasing By SNAP Participants
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced $31.5 million in funding for the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program. FINI grants are awarded to organizations to advance incentive programs to improve the nutrition and health status of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households. Three separate types of grants were awarded — pilot projects, multi-year community-based projects, and multi-year large-scale projects. Among all of the grants, priority was given to innovative approaches to improve benefit redemption systems, use of direct-t0-consumer marketing, incentive program experience, and programs located in underserved communities. Read more at NSAC.
US Conference of Mayors Honors Farm Workers
In June, Mayors from hundreds of American cities held their annual conference to discuss pressing issues of the day. For decades, they had debated every possible major problem in America except farmworker rights. This year, inspired by the film Food Chains, Mayor Paul Soglin of Madison hosted a panel on farm labor with a representative of the Coalition of Immokolee Workers and the film. Some of the most influential food policy experts in the country were there. At the end of the conference, the Mayors voted unanimously to issue a proclamation recognizing the power of the Fair Food Program and calling for a streamlined guest farm worker program.
Future Organic Farmer Grant Fund
The United States is facing an epidemic shortage of farmers. Among the challenges to meet the rising demand for organic products that are healthy for both people and the planet is the need for new organic farmers and entrepreneurs. The CCOF Foundation’s Future Organic Farmer Grant Fund is looking to change that. Grants will be made in three educational categories in 2016: K-8, high school, and vocational and higher education.
Partners For Places Matching Grant Round 7 Now Open
Partners for Places is a successful matching grant program that creates opportunities for cities and counties in the United States and Canada to improve communities by building partnerships between local government sustainability offices and place-based foundations. National funders invest in local projects to promote a healthy environment, a strong economy, and well-being of all residents. Through these projects, Partners for Places fosters long-term relationships that make our urban areas more prosperous, livable, and vibrant. The grant program will provide partnership investments between $25,000 and $75,000 for one year projects, or $50,000 and $150,000 for two year projects, with a 1:1 match required by one or more local foundations. Proposals are due August 10, 2015.
Local Food, Local Places 2015
The Local Foods, Local Places Initiative is once again accepting applications from communities seeking technical assistance to integrate local food systems into community economic action plans. Announced on June 30, 2015, the Initiative’s request for applications represents the second time that communities around the U.S. (including neighborhoods or main street districts) can apply for assistance from a team of agricultural, transportation, public health, environmental, and regional economic experts from a partnership of six federal agencies. Read more at NSAC’s blog.
Hudson Valley Farm Hub Website
The Local Economies Project of the New World Foundation, a CFF steering committee member, launched the website for one of their signature initiatives, the Hudson Valley Farm Hub. Explore the site to learn more about the project and the vision for its 1,225 acres, meet the people involved, sign up for their newsletter, and read about research projects such as their small grains field trials.
Farm To School Act Of 2015
The National Farm to School Network (NFSN) and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) are partnering to advance farm to school priorities in the 2015 reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, with the shared goal of supporting stronger communities, healthier children and resilient farms. A bipartisan team in both the House and Senate have each introduced the bill. Read more on the NSAC and NFSN info pages.
NYC Food Policy Center E-Newsletter
Every month, the NYC Food Policy Center at Hunter College produces the NYC Food Policy Watch, a fabulous and informative newsletter complete with original articles and interviews, policy briefs, event recaps, news picks, and a roundup of recent food policy publications. The March edition features reflections on a race and food justice seminar, April has data on sugary beverages marketing to youth, and May gives a snapshot of urban agriculture in NYC.
Launch Of New Eat Well Guide
The GRACE Communications Foundation launched its new Eat Well Guide, the largest online directory of sustainable food vendors in the country with 25,000 listings of restaurants, farms, farmers’ markets, food co-ops and more across the United States. A 2014 poll by Cone Communications revealed that 83% of Americans consider sustainability when buying food and 81% would like to see more options that protect the environment. This demand is evident in the enormous increase in farmers’ markets over the last 20 years, which are up 370% from 1994 and 123% from 2004. In addition to fulfilling a vital need for consumers, the Eat Well Guide helps sustainable food producers and retailers reach individuals beyond their usual customer-base, providing a much-needed marketing boost to small farms, farmers’ markets, restaurants and food co-ops that are often outmuscled by large food corporations’ huge advertising budgets.
Justice for Farm Workers of Apopka, Florida
Sixty-two year old Linda Lee worked for decades on the banks of Lake Apopka, Florida, planting and picking – helping to feed America. Linda is a brave and tireless community leader but was also a victim of one of the worst cases of economic injustice in our nation’s recent history. She and thousands of other African American men and women provided wintertime produce to feed the United States. To make crops grow in that hot and humid climate, farmers would drench fields with pesticides. Often, Linda and her colleagues would be directly sprayed by aerial crop dusters. In 1998, the farms on which Linda and the others worked were forced to close because of the environmental damage they inflicted on Lake Apopka. But the government paid the farmers over $100 million to do so. Did the farmers distribute that money to the people who worked their fields for generations? No. They evicted workers from farm-owned housing and fired everyone. Watch a short video from the makers of Food Chains about this story, and read about a recent crowdfunding campaign to support Linda in her time of need. An article from 2010 is also available at The Atlantic.
The Effects of Eating Organic
This family doesn’t eat organic food because it costs more than conventional food and it just isn’t convenient. As an experiment, they decided to eat only organic and measure the effect. Before starting, they took urine samples discovered they have a number of insecticides, fungicides and plant growth regulators inside their bodies. At the end of the two weeks, they tested their urine again and discovered that nearly all traces of the pesticides had completely vanished. Read more coverage in Huffington Post or view the full report online.
John Oliver Takes On Contract Farming
On his show, Last Week Tonight, John Oliver skewered the poultry industry and the practice of contract farming in a segment that exposes the unfair practices and exploitation of chicken farmers at the hands of large poultry companies. Read more about the practice at NSAC, OneGreenPlanet, Slate, and Rolling Stone.
The Meatrix Relaunched
In 2003 GRACE Communications Foundation released The Meatrix, an animated parody revealing the truth about industrial meat and factory farms. Now over ten years later they’ve announced The Meatrix Relaunched, an updated version which asks an important question: What if we told you…factory farming has gotten even worse? GRACE is releasing the ten-year-anniversary version of The Meatrix not as a self-congratulatory retrospective, but as an urgent call to action. While great strides have been made by sustainable food system advocates, factory farms remain a lamentable reality. Nonetheless, as Moopheus notes in the movie, there is a resistance, and it continues to grow.
e360 Takes a 2-Part Look at Food Waste
In the first e360 video, filmmaker Karim Chrobog looks at the staggering amount of food wasted in the U.S. – a problem with major human and environmental costs. The video focuses on Washington, D.C., which has taken steps to see that food ends up with those who need it rather than in landfills. First in a series. In the second video, filmmaker Karim Chrobog travels to Seoul, South Korea, which has implemented a high-tech initiative that has dramatically reduced its food waste. Seoul’s efforts could serve as a model for how a major city can recycle discarded food and keep it out of landfills.
New Food Hardship Report
Food Research and Action Center’s (FRAC) new report, How Hungry is America, takes a look at Gallup survey data on food hardship. The report reviews 2014 data for the nation, every state, and 100 of the country’s largest metropolitan areas, and shows show that millions of Americans still struggle to afford enough food for their households. The report finds that one in six Americans (17.2%) said in 2014 that there had been times over the past 12 months that they didn’t have enough money to buy food that they or their families needed.
Book: The Color Of Food
Imagine the typical American farmer. Many people visualize sun-roughened skin, faded overalls, and calloused hands—hands that are usually white. While there’s no doubt the growing trend of organic farming and homesteading is changing how the farmer is portrayed in mainstream media, farmers of color are still largely left out of the picture. The Color of Food seeks to rectify this. By recognizing the critical issues that lie at the intersection of race and food, this stunning collection of portraits and stories challenges the status quo of agrarian identity. Author, photographer, and biracial farmer Natasha Bowens’s quest to explore her own roots in the soil leads her to unearth a larger story, weaving together the seemingly forgotten history of agriculture for people of color, the issues they face today, and the culture and resilience they bring to food and farming. Bowen’s wrote an introduction to the book on Civil Eats as well.
Exploring Economic and Health Impacts of Local Food Procurement
Communities across the country are creating innovative and effective ways to build procurement of locally produced foods by schools, hospitals, food banks, and other institutions. To assist communities in enhancing the health and economic impacts of local food procurement initiatives, the Illinois Public Health Institute and Crossroads Resource Center are releasing a new report – Exploring Economic and Health Impacts of Local Food Procurement. The report highlights practical, effective strategies for communities to add locally sourced food to their institutional food systems; recommends ways to conceptualize and measure economic and health impacts; suggests effective funding strategies; and includes Critical Analysis of Economic Impact Methodologies, which discusses the literature on the economic impact of local foods.
Debunking Walmart’s Sustainability Claims
The Food Chain Workers Alliance released a new report entitled Walmart at the Crossroads: The Environmental and Labor Impact of Its Food Supply Chain. According to Walmart’s own “Ethical Sourcing” standards, all suppliers and their manufacturing facilities at a minimum: “must fully comply with all applicable national and/or local laws and regulations, including but not limited to those related to labor, immigration, health and safety, and the environment.” However, this report finds that Walmart has failed to enforce supplier compliance with its code of ethics around labor practices, environmental sustainability, and sourcing local food. The report finds that workers in Walmart’s stores and in its food supply chain endure a slew of labor abuses, including gender and racial discrimination, unfair treatment of immigrants, low pay, violations of freedom of association, and even workplace accidents and fatalities. Read the Executive Summary here, and see coverage in Civil Eats and NPR.
How Our Gardens Grow, Strategies for Expanding Urban Agriculture
Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer released, How Our Gardens Grow, Strategies for Expanding Urban Agriculture, a report with recommendations for expanding urban agriculture in Manhattan’s schools, senior centers, and public housing facilities. Brewer also announced that her office will allocate up to $1 million in capital funding for innovative school gardening projects – such as hydroponics labs – in the next fiscal year.
Lessons from the Lunchroom
2014-2015 Global Food Policy Report
The 2014-2015 Global Food Policy Report is the fourth in an annual series that provides a comprehensive overview of major food policy developments and events. In this report, distinguished researchers, policymakers, and practitioners review what happened in food policy in 2014 at the global, regional, and national levels, and–supported by the latest knowledge and research–explain why. This year’s report is the first to also look forward a year, offering analysis of the potential opportunities and challenges that we will face in achieving food and nutrition security in 2015.
How Food Access Nonprofits and Hospitals Can Work Together to Promote Wellness
Cultivating Nonprofit Leadership: A (Missed?) Philanthropic Opportunity
The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) released Cultivating Nonprofit Leadership: A (Missed?) Philanthropic Opportunity, part two of the “Smashing Silos in Philanthropy” series. The report tackles the philanthropic sector’s chronic underinvestment in leadership development, with less than 1 percent of total grant dollars going toward developing and supporting grassroots leaders, according to data from 2003-2012.
Pesticides in Produce
A recent Consumer Reports survey of 1,050 people found that pesticides are a concern for 85 percent of Americans. Experts at Consumer Reports believe that organic is always the best choice because it is better for your health, the environment, and the people who grow our food. The risk from pesticides in produce grown conventionally varies from very low to very high, depending on the type of produce and on the country where it’s grown. The differences can be dramatic. For instance, eating one serving of green beans from the U.S. is 200 times riskier than eating a serving of U.S.-grown broccoli. A recent report presents these analyses and more.