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CLF-Harvard Partnership Launches New “Good Laws, Good Food” Toolkit

Updated Resource Offers Blueprint for Building Local Food Policy

Oct 25, 2017

The Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) at Harvard Law School, with support from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) and the Town Creek Foundation, has released an updated resource today for food policy councils and others working to change the food system. The “Good Laws, Good Food: Putting Local Food Policy to Work for our Communities” toolkit aims to help equip advocates with information about the legal concepts, government stakeholders, and issue areas that underpin food policy-making at the local level.

The updates to the toolkit reflect the ways that the field of food policy has changed since first version of the toolkit was published in 2012. FPLC researchers added two new sections to the toolkit on food procurement and efforts to reduce the waste of food, as well as new examples of policy innovations and initiatives from communities across the United States. Other topics covered in the toolkit include the general legal setting surrounding food policy, local food infrastructure, land use planning and regulation, urban agriculture, consumer access and demand, and school food and nutrition.

“Local food policy councils often focus on the structure and the process of organizing a group, but there is a great deal of input that goes into developing policies that are attainable or achievable and will support a local food system,” said Anne Palmer, director of CLF’s Food Communities and Public Health program. “Providing food policy councils with this toolkit really allows them to see the universe of what’s possible and what is being done across the country.”

“There’s been a surge in interest in using food policy in new ways to build healthier and more sustainable communities,” said Emily Broad Leib, Assistant Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic. “For instance, our toolkit covers ways in which over the last few years food policy councils have enacted policies to reduce the amount of wholesome food that goes to waste and used procurement to leverage institutional purchasing power in support of local and regional producers, healthier foods, and fair labor practices.”

To get the most out of the toolkit, researchers recommend that advocates identify which of the food policy suggestions, examples, and methods contained in the toolkit may be appropriate for their community. Advocates can pick and choose from the different sections of the toolkit to use only the guidance that is relevant to their particular needs, resources, and priorities.

Palmer adds, “Local food policy councils and the advocates charged with developing and implementing policies can learn a lot from the successes and efforts of their peers in other localities. We hope the new examples included in toolkit will help educate, inspire, and empower advocates to develop their own local food policies and put them into practice.”