food_library_3_food_policy
food_library_3_food_policy

Current Projects – draft

The Food Law and Policy Clinic of Harvard Law School works on a range of projects at any given time. Below is a select list of some of our current projects:

COMMUNITY FOOD SYSTEM PLANNING

  • HEAL Alliance Platform for Real Food
  • Boston Office of Food Access
  • Navajo Nation

FOOD ACCESS & NUTRITION INITIATIVE

  • Approaches to Reducing Sugar Consumption
  • Nutrition Education for Doctors    

FOOD WASTE INITIATIVE

  • Global Food Donation Policy Atlas
  • State and Local Food Waste Policy Technical Assistance
  • Federal Food Waste Policy
  • Food Donation Start-Up Legal Guidance on Puerto Rico

SUSTAINABLE FOOD PRODUCTION INITIATIVE

  • Protecting and Promoting Better Wages for Restaurant Workers
  • Cottage Foods
  • FBLE

COMMUNITY FOOD SYSTEM PLANNING

HEAL Alliance Platform for Real Food

HEAL (Health, Environment, Agriculture, Labor) is a coalition of member organizations building collective power to create healthy, accessible, and sustainable food systems that are fair to farm and food workers. HEAL seeks to amplify the voices of the communities most impacted by the disparities in our food system through community organizing and policy advocacy. Last year, FLPC launched a partnership to provide technical assistance and research support to HEAL’s policy efforts and advocacy campaigns. FLPC will continue working to support HEAL’s platform, specifically around the areas of empowering food system workers and supporting livable wages, healthy working environments, and cooperative ownership.

Boston Office of Food Access

Since its inception, FLPC has had a strong working relationship with the Boston Mayor’s Office of Food Access (OFA) and FLPC has conducted research projects, white papers, and trainings on behalf of OFA. Currently FLPC is supporting the Office with several projects. For example, FLPC will support the re-launch of the Boston Food Access Council, which aims to engage a range of stakeholders and constituents in developing new policies and programs around food access in Boston.

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Navajo Nation

Since 2013, FLPC has worked with the Community Outreach & Patient Empowerment (COPE) Project and the Navajo Department of Health to improve health and increase food sovereignty within the Navajo Nation. In 2013, FLPC presented at the Navajo Nation Food and Wellness Summit, helping Navajo leaders and community members identify key food policy issues. Based on this meeting and subsequent research, interviews, and feedback from Navajo members, FLPC students and staff developed “Good Laws, Good Food: Putting Food Policy to Work in Navajo Nation” as a tailored resource for those working to improve the food system in Navajo Nation. FLPC has worked with our partners in Navajo Nation on projects related to supporting farm-to-school purchase programs, and most recently, on how to prepare for the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill, including conducting informal interviews and conversations with stakeholders and drafting a memo on how the farm bill could better support local food policy efforts in the Navajo Nation.

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FOOD ACCESS & NUTRITION INITIATIVE

Approaches to Reducing Consumption of Sugar (ARCS):

Excess consumption of sugar is linked to obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related chronic diseases that have tremendous social and economic costs. Reducing population-level consumption of sugar is one of the most promising strategies for addressing these pressing public health concerns. Through the ARCS project, FLPC is offering pro bono technical assistance (TA) to community organizations, food policy councils, and local and state government entities across the United States interested in implementing innovative sugar-reduction policies. FLPC will engage in coalition-building at TA sites, providing an on-site training on the policy options for reducing sugar consumption and helping the sites engage other relevant stakeholders and partners. FLPC will conduct legal research into applicable federal, state and local laws and work with partners to develop strategies for enacting community-supported policy change. FLPC will also help to facilitate peer to peer learning across sites, publish a toolkit to support similar policy efforts nationwide, and host a convening of sites in 2020 to support ongoing work in this area.

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Nutrition Education for Doctors

Despite the key role that food plays in public health, the majority of physicians are ill-equipped to answer basic questions about food and nutrition. On average, U.S. medical schools offer less than 1% of total lecture hours in nutrition education. Most patients consider physicians to be the most credible sources of guidance about diet and food and would like to talk to their physicians about these topics, yet the majority of graduating medical students rate their nutrition knowledge as “inadequate.” Since 2017, FLPC has collaborated with the Nutrition Education Working Group, a group of faculty and students at Harvard Medical School and School of Public Health, and the Gaples Institute, to explore a range of policy options to increase food and nutrition education among doctors. In fall 2019, FLPC will release a report that identifies a range of national policy options to increase food and nutrition in medical education and will work with partners to support change on a federal and state-level through a congressional briefing and other outreach to policymakers.

FOOD WASTE INITIATIVE

Global Food Donation Policy Atlas

FLPC recently launched the Global Food Donation Policy Atlas, a first-of-its-kind initiative to promote food donation as a solution to food loss and waste on a global scale, in partnership with the Global FoodBanking Network (GFN). This 2-year project will engage in a comparative law analysis and direct technical assistance on food donation laws across 15 countries in Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia. FLPC will prepare a legal guide for each country to help food donors, food banks, NGOs, civil society, and policy makers navigate the legal landscape relevant to food donation. FLPC will also provide policy recommendations to increase food donations, and direct technical assistance on 1-2 policy issues. Findings from our research will be illustrated in an interactive, online atlas.

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Federal Food Waste Policy

FLPC has been heavily engaged in federal legislative and agency activities to reduce food waste, including publishing various reports on federal policy opportunities to reduce food waste, supporting introduction of several pieces of legislation on topics such as standardized date labeling and liability protection for food donations, and advocating for food waste programs and funding in the U.S. farm bill. The 2018 Farm Bill passed, and for the first time ever, included dedicated funding and programs to address food waste, including several based on FLPC’s recommendations. FLPC will conduct research on opportunities to include food waste programs and funding in the Child Nutrition Reauthorization legislation that may be enacted during this Congress. In addition, FLPC will continue to track federal food waste legislation; conduct education and advocacy in support of legislation to standardize date labels; and respond to research requests on targeted legal and policy questions.

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State and Local Technical Assistance

In the past few years, more and more states and localities are considering and enacting policies related to food waste, food recovery, and food donation. According to FLPC’s legislative tracking, in the 2017-18 legislative session, 30 states introduced more than 100 unique pieces of legislation aiming to reduce food waste or increase food recovery. FLPC plays a major role in the movement of state legislation, as many states base their policies on our issue briefs and reports, and ask us to draft, analyze, and testify in support of proposed food waste legislation. FLPC provides direct technical assistance to more than a dozen states and localities on food waste legal and policy questions. This work includes developing legal fact sheets on federal and state laws that relate to food waste, providing guidance to local and states governments on proposed legislation or regulations, presenting trainings to advocates and policymakers, and consulting with and educating legislators on possible strategies. FLPC also conducts regular legislative tracking and reporting on state-level legislation relevant to food waste and food recovery around the country, including researching and evaluating relevant legislation, identifying trends across states, and presenting on these policy trends and innovations around the country and globally. FLPC will launch a program in early 2020 to better share real-time updates on state legislative developments with food waste advocates and policymakers.

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Food Donation Start-Up Legal Guidance on Puerto Rico

FLPC supports increased food donation and recovery by providing legal and policy guidance to nonprofit organizations and innovative start-ups in the food recovery space. Currently, FLPC is partnered with a new social venture that applies technology and sharing economy models to address the logistics needs of food donation, launching a new pilot in Puerto Rico. FLPC will prepare a legal memorandum explaining the most relevant U.S. laws and Puerto Rican laws, including barriers and incentives to food donation.

SUSTAINABLE FOOD PRODUCTION INITIATIVE

Protecting and Promoting Better Wages for Restaurant Workers

The U.S. restaurant industry employs 14 million people and generates $515 billion in sales revenue each year, yet the vast majority of restaurant jobs pay low wages and offer few benefits. One reason is that restaurants operate on a two-tiered wage system in which they pay workers a tipped wage below the minimum wage, where service workers depend on tips to get them up to the minimum wage. This leaves them beholden to customers and managers, leading to financial insecurity, discrimination, sexual harassment, and wage and hour violations.

Since 2018, FLPC has worked with Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) United which advocates for improved wages and working conditions for the nation’s restaurant workforce. This work includes policy recommendations and draft legislation to provide tip protection for workers (clarifying that tips belong to workers, not restaurant owners) and offer tax credits and other incentives to employers who pay the minimum wage (or a living wage) rather than the tipped wage. FLPC will further its work in 2019 and 2020 by supporting ROC’s policy advocacy at the state and local level. 

Cottage Foods 

In August 2013, FLPC published a seminal report tracking trends in state laws across the country that allow for the sale of low-risk food items produced in home kitchens. This type of food production, called “cottage food production,” has increased in popularity in recent years. The report has been widely used by advocates, entrepreneurs, and policymakers around the country. In August 2018, FLPC published an updated Cottage Food Laws in the United States report, which includes updated research, analysis on new trends in state cottage food laws, and a new detailed 50-state appendix with information about each state’s current laws. FLPC also provides direct support to advocates and policymakers in states working to advance state policies that better support cottage foods and home kitchen operations.

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Farm Bill Law Enterprise (FBLE)

Every 5-7 years, Congress passes legislation known as the “farm bill.” The farm bill is an omnibus piece of legislation that affects every aspect of the food system; including financial support for agriculture, nutrition programs, rural development, trade, and many others. Historically, the farm bill has faced shortcomings in terms of supporting small-scale and regional food systems; minority and female farmers; and conservation and environmental goals. In order to foster a better farm bill, since 2016, FLPC has led the Farm Bill Law Enterprise (FBLE), a national partnership of law schools working toward a farm bill that reflects the long-term needs of our society. FBLE values economic opportunity and stability, public health and nutrition, public resources stewardship, and fair access and equal protection. FLPC will support the ongoing work of FBLE by analyzing new programs in the 2018 farm bill for alignment with FBLE’s priorities, including resilient soil practices, hemp cultivation, and discrimination against black farmers in the agricultural sector and ways to address black land loss. 

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