Written by Ariel Ardura, Summer 2017 intern in the Food Law and Policy Clinic.
People care deeply about food waste reduction, a fact that was clearly evident at the Massachusetts Statehouse this past Wednesday. State Congressmen and Congresswomen, staffers, and advocates gathered in the House Members’ Lounge for a legislative briefing on Massachusetts food waste reduction policy priorities for this session. The briefing, organized by the Massachusetts Food System Collaborative and scheduled to start at 10:00am, was standing room only by 9:50am. The Clinic was there to advocate for some of its top food waste legislation recommendations for Massachusetts.
After Clinical Fellow Christina Rice presented on food donation tax incentives and liability protection, I had the opportunity to present on issues that have become very important to me over the course of my work on food waste issues throughout the summer: date label reform and school food waste.
I talked about why it’s important for Massachusetts to pass legislation enacting a standardized dual date labeling system, which will help reduce consumer confusion and thus reduce the amount of food being unnecessarily disposed of. I also talked about some of the things Massachusetts should be doing to reduce food waste in schools, including providing funding to school to conduct food waste audits and making the “Offer versus Serve” method mandatory across all grade levels.
I’ve had several opportunities throughout the summer to improve my public speaking and advocacy skills, and I thought that my performance at this briefing was a testament to how far the Clinic has helped me come during my ten weeks here. While I am typically not the biggest fan of public speaking, I felt calm and comfortable speaking about these topics, even without the crutch of a Powerpoint presentation to turn and point to!
Additionally, I had the pleasure of listening to the presentations of other interested parties as well as several Congress men and women at the briefing. The presentations ranged in topic from the need to strengthen the Massachusetts organic waste ban to the importance of food waste education. What was a constant throughout the briefing was the clear passion these advocates and policy makers had for these issues. While Massachusetts has already taken a number of steps to reduce food waste in the state, there is still so much more that can be done, and it was inspiring to see how dedicated the briefing attendees and presenters are to making these changes happen.
Probably what I love most about the food law and policy world is the people. While the work is fascinating to me, it’s made times better by the amazing people I get to work alongside/advocate with/learn from. I came to law school to become an advocate for critical changes to our food system. The people I worked with throughout the summer gave me an even deeper appreciation for the power of law to make a positive impact on our communities, and reaffirmed my commitment to public interest food law and policy. I am particularly grateful for the support and guidance of Professor Broad Leib, the Clinical staff, and especially the other interns this summer—they’ve certainly set the bar high for my next internship!