Posts Tagged ‘the farm bill’
 
July 17th, 2013 |

The power of taking a stand.

This post is comes to light from recent political events that involve food and nutrition: the passing of the farm bill by the House of Representatives – a version that purposely neglects the SNAP or “food stamps” section. Real-life hunger games anyone? Obviously the president will never sign such a bill; it’s simply the result of political drama. And for those who rely on food stamps, while they may be frustrated – it’s good to know that the program will run as usual regardless of this bill being passed. The bad news is that it weakens the program, making it more vulnerable to budget cuts in the future.

Leaving out the food stamp section is a blow to the face to millions of Americans including farmers. For me this whole ordeal is maddening. The farm bill is supposed to be the authority on food policy; it’s a blueprint of how we feed ourselves. How can we improve our food system if we waste all this time and energy in a political battle?

This is where public policy comes into play. One of the most important things I’ve learned in nutrition is the power of speaking up and advocating for what is right. Whether it be voicing your opinion in a lecture hall or climbing the stairs of the state house – being heard and taking a stand in something you believe in is powerful.  And it feels pretty awesome too!

As a nutrition student, it was easy to find opportunities to advocate. I could watch and learn from others how to make a strong case on a particular issue. But for many health and nutrition professionals, day-to-day life makes it difficult to (a) gain knowledge of the issues and (b) take that extra step to advocate. For all of you who have thought about getting involved in public policy in the past, now is the time to take the plunge.

Tips and resources needed to take a stand on food and nutrition related issues:

  • Food Politics by Marion Nestle – a great blog and resource written by Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health. Marion provides real information in an easy-to-understand kind of way.
  • Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) is the leading national nonprofit organization working to improve public policies and public-private partnerships to eradicate hunger and malnutrition in the United States.
  • Action for Healthy Kids – a non-profit organization dedicated to improving children’s nutrition and physical activity by collaborating with stakeholders to advocate and promote school health initiatives. Check out the website to volunteer and inquire about legislative breakfasts at your state’s capitol!
  • Eat Drink Politics – Michele Simon a public policy lawyer and author of Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines Our Health and How to Fight Back. Michele writes about policy solutions to food industry and political dilemmas with the goal of improving public health.
  • Center for Science in the Public Interest – CSPI’s goal is to educate the public and advocate government policies that are consistent with scientific. Make sure you sign up for their “nutrition action” newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest nutrition and policy news.
  • Public Policy Workshop – run by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics this workshop is for all you dietitians and dietetic interns out there. A 3-day intensive learning experience that culminates with “hill visits” to speak your mind and share your experiences with US legislators.

Empower yourself by learning about nutrition and food policy, then go out there and speak your mind!

By Liz Schneider