Highlights from the Neighborhood to Nation Conference: Short Course: Food Policy Advocacy 101

  • Policy & Advocacy
  • June 27, 2011
  • Comments

Food Policy Advocacy 101: Training & Tools for Winning Campaigns

By: Barbara Ann McMonigal         

Have you seen the "Schoolhouse Rock" video on how a bill becomes a law? “I’m just a bill, sitting here on Capital Hill…when I started, I wasn’t a bill, I was just an idea, some folks back home decided they wanted a law passed so they called their local congressman…” Apparently it doesn’t work that way anymore but CFSC (Community Food Security Coalition) is knee deep in the process of how it does work and is happy to help us all understand it better: check out their Federal Policy Advocacy Handbook for a detailed summary. The idea of folks caring about an issue, speaking up and affecting change is just as important as it ever was.

The CFSC offered a short course that I attended in the interest of gaining a broader, more in-depth understanding of how policy change works in the U.S. At the Food Family Farming Foundation, our mission is to provide tools that enable all schools, parents, advocates, students, administrators, teachers and food service staff to progress from serving highly processed, unhealthy food to serving fresh, scratch-cooked food and we can’t untie ourselves from the connection we have with our laws.

Policy-making truly does affect all of us, locally and nationally. While the scale and the system for advocating policy change magnifies intensely at the national level, it’s still certainly something worth gaining a deeper understanding of because whether it feels like it or not, the voice of individuals still matters to government decision-making.

Here is a brief summary of resources available to you if you are interested in diving into the policy realm or even getting your feet wet:

·CFSC Advocacy Toolkit: Remember whether you literally change a law or not, your voice can influence decision makers and that’s valuable.

·Allocateyourtaxdollars.org is a site that allows people to see how our tax dollars are spent and “vote” on where you’d prefer your tax dollars to go.

Government Resources: National Advocacy

·United States Senate

·United States House of Representatives

·The White House

·United States Department of Agriculture

The Food Family Farming Foundation focuses on implementing change one school meal at a time: supporting the people on the ground, doing school food change through the free resources available at The Lunch Box and Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools and we appreciate organizations that focus on different aspects of improving our food system, particularly in politics. Don’t be shy, reflect on what matters to you and speak up to your representatives. Consider following an organization that is focused on issues that matter to you: improving our food system through policy changes, to learn about their recommendations for when to speak up about different issues that matter to you and who to speak up to. Look out for the 2012 Farm Bill, nicknamed the Food Bill in some circles and join the conversation because policy decisions do affect our food system whether we have a voice in them or not.

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