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Introducing a dynamic framework to jointly address policy impacts on environmental and human health in a regional produce recovery and redistribution system

October 08, 2018
Journal of Public Affairs

Beth J. Feingold, Xiaobo Xue, Roni A. Neff, Christine Bozlak, Akiko S. Hosler, Janine M. Jurkowski

Regular consumption of fruits and vegetables is associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and all‐cause mortality. Access to fresh produce is limited for individuals and families experiencing food insecurity. Emergency food programs, including food pantries, are important institutions for assuring access to nutritional foods for this population, including fresh produce. Produce availability at such institutions is on the rise thanks to donation, gleaning, food bank purchases, recovery programs multiscale policy interventions. These efforts also have coupled economic and environmental benefits for producers and retailers as surplus food is redirected from the waste stream, where it would otherwise produce greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Although varied surplus produce recovery programs have been implemented around the country and the world, little modeling of potentially synergistic impacts has accompanied their implementation. Thus, there remains sparse understanding of system‐wide joint implications economically, environmentally, nutritionally, and epidemiologically. The goal of this paper is to offer a novel dynamic modeling framework capable of assessing environmental, nutritional, and health impacts of policies and programs in the food recovery and redistribution system. This unique framework serves as a scientific basis for implementing best management practices and policies to improve the sustainability of U.S. food systems.