Changelab Solutions Webinar on Food Systems and Health Inequity

by Kyle Winterboer*

ChangeLab Solutions works nationwide to bring about healthier and equitable communities through law and policy. Their ongoing six-part virtual engagement series “Uprooting the Structural Drivers of Health Inequity” is focused on ways that organizations and advocates are addressing inequity in their efforts to improve outcomes. Their recent webinar was the fifth installations of the series, was focused on food systems, and featured an expert panel discussing Policy Solutions for a Values-Based Food System.

Previous episodes can be found on their website, and a recording of Monday’s Panel will be made available at: https://www.changelabsolutions.org/product/food-systems

Below find a list of the expert panelists. Additionally, find a summary by one of the Resnick Center’s Summer Research Assistants, Kyle Winterboer, who attended the webinar on Monday, June 28, 2021.

Expert Panel:

  • Jose Oliva, campaigns director, HEAL Food Alliance
  • Karen Bassarab, senior program officer, Food Communities & Public Health, Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future
  • Vinny Eng, community organizer and founding member, SF New Deal 
  • Abbey Piner, project lead, Community Food Strategies, Center for Environmental Farming Systems, North Carolina State University
  • LaShauna Austria, Founder, Kindred Seedlings Farm, and Racial Equity Coach, Community Food Strategies
  • Nessia Berner Wong, senior policy analyst, ChangeLab Solutions (moderator)

Throughout the webinar, the concept of “policy violence” was highlighted and showed how harm to communities has been perpetuated by the disciplines of law and policy being unable to address their own issues of entrenched systemic racism. Panelists highlighted how law and policy need to strive to reform and focus on uplifting dignity and protecting those who are closest to harm. Throughout the food industry, it is well documented that BIPOC farmers and workers have been systematically denied governmental aid and faced barriers that stripped them of land, resources, livelihoods, and opportunity. These policy choices and written laws have directly resulted in the built environments we live in today and continue to plague communities with inequitable living conditions and consequential health outcomes.

The panelists briefly touched on the ongoing legal proceedings regarding the USDA’s rollout of BIPOC loan forgiveness through the American Rescue Plan, and how opponents brought suit in Wisconsin and won a temporary restraining order against the USDA. For further information, further accounting is provided by HEAL Food Alliance and a number of organizations at this link. There, advocates share that while initial steps towards reform in the American Rescue Plan go nowhere near what is needed, any financial relief for BIPOC members of the food system and society are welcomed relief and a step in the right direction. The backlash via numerous lawsuits only shows how far we still have to go.

Beyond the commonly sighted issues of red-lining, Jim Crow laws, and the Bracero Program, the panelists alerted listeners to an emerging policy issue that, if left unsolved, can reinforce racial inequities. While local food policy councils and community food sourcing organizations gain popularity across the country, and may offer a viable way to reinvest in hollowed-out local food systems and address racialized food deserts, conscious choices must be made to avoid continued patterns of systemic racial policy violence. Examples have already played out where all-white councils in some cities were put in place and overlooked opportunities to invest and partner with BIPOC food providers and businesses. Without intentional roll-outs, the programs may instead reinforce the racial inequities they are trying to solve. Intentional consideration must be given to who is in put charge of making the purchasing choices.

Panelists highlighted hope and an example of how Indianapolis diverted from policy as usual by choosing to declare racism a public health crisis in June 2020. Additionally, it created a program that ensures its polices are informed first by the communities that are closest to harm. By partnering with on the ground community organizations, policy can be better informed and shaped by the diverse populations of an area and bring a first-hand account of the needs of the community. Compared to giving power to top-down councils, by assigning the levers of power to those who are already doing the work that a policy is aiming to achieve, it leads to better results and more equitable laws and policies. Such considerations need to be considered in local implementations if these programs hope to actually uproot structural racism. Otherwise, these programs will merely fertilize these structural roots and continue to perpetuate racial injustice throughout the food system.

*Kyle is a summer research assistant with the Resnick Center, and a Master of Public Policy candidate at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, focused on sustainability and food systems. He is also a member of UCLA’s Graduate Food Studies Program and the National Science Foundation’s INFEWS research traineeship program.

Resnick Center faculty and staff recent speaking events

Executive Director Michael T. Roberts recently spoke by Zoom for the San Marino Rotary Club on the “Role of Food Law in everyday consumer products: Olive Oil and Honey. How do we know what’s in our plates?” Regarding the presentation, he commented, “I was thoroughly impressed with the quality of questions from the members. We ran 30 minutes overtime, as questions about Ractopamine (animal drug) and Isotopes (chemical fingerprinting) surfaced.” A video of the talk is here.

Also this week, Assistant Director Diana Winters participated in a Duke Law Food Law Society Zoom panel on Slaughterhouses and Covid-19, with David Muraskin from Public Justice, Hannah Connor from the Center for Biological Diversity, and Delcianna Winders, the Director of Lewis & Clark Law School’s Animal Law Litigation Clinic. The panel discussed failures in food safety and worker protection regulation that have led to the rampant spread of Covid-19 in meat processing plants.

Resnick Center Partners with UN on Global Food Initiatives

UPDATE (June 26, 2019): Please see here for the FAO’s press release regarding this partnership: http://www.fao.org/partnerships/academia/news/news-article/en/c/1198206/ 

 

 

Reprinted from UCLA Law News and Events (https://law.ucla.edu/news-and-events/in-the-news/2019/06/resnick-center-partners-with-un-on-global-food-initiatives/)

The Resnick Center for Food Law and Policy at UCLA School of Law has entered into a partnership with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on a series of research and advisory initiatives to confront global food security, nutrition, safety and quality.

The parties signed a memorandum of understanding at an FAO event in Rome on June 10, where leaders in global food policy gathered for a series of talks on the future of food. Michael Roberts, executive director of the Resnick Center, attended and served as a featured participant in a roundtable discussion on academic perspectives of global nutrition policy.

The agreement establishes a working relationship between the Resnick Center and the UN, including an initial project involving food fraud that builds on recent research by UCLA Law scholars. Hilal Elver S.J.D. ’09, who serves as the Resnick Center’s global distinguished fellow and the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, was instrumental in building the partnership between the center and the FAO.

“FAO is glad to partner with UCLA, one of the most prestigious academic institutions around the world,” FAO director-general José Graziano da Silva said in a statement. “Promoting healthy food systems has become a top priority [in] sustainable development, and this cannot be done with [inadequate] regulation. … UCLA law school expertise, in particular on food law, will surely contribute to address this key challenge.”

The collaboration continues the close relationship between the Resnick Center and the FAO. Graziano da Silva visited UCLA Law in February 2019, where he emphasized that simply providing food to hungry people around the world is not enough. Rather, he said, serving healthy food should be a paramount concern.

“We need to reposition our food systems from feeding people to nourishing people,” Graziano da Silva told an audience of UCLA Law students and professionals in the field. “Obesity and overweight are growing faster than hunger. It is an epidemic. The right to healthy food should be a key dimension for zero hunger and for the right to food itself.”

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Food Law CLE at UCLA – June 6-7

The Resnick Center is collaborating with CLE International to present the fourth annual Food Law Conference at the UCLA Faculty Center on June 6 and 7, 2019.  This conference brings together an amazing group of practitioners, regulators, academics, and stakeholders to present on numerous important food law topics, including standards and food fraud, preemption, and class actions.  You can find the full brochure with a schedule of events here, and you can register here.

Please join us!

Is Pizza Still a Vegetable?

by Stephanie Teuber – 2L, UCLA Law

 

Many K-12 students in Los Angeles, as well as throughout the U.S., rely on public schools for at least one meal each day. Although school lunch programs serve an important purpose, they are often left out of legal conversations. On February 27, with the support of a grant from the Semel Healthy Campus Initiative, the Food Law Society and Education Law Society at UCLA Law teamed up to host Is Pizza Still a Vegetable? What’s Next for School Lunch.

Through a panel conversation, moderated by Dr. Wendy Slusser, an Assistant Clinical Professor of Child Health Policy, Pediatrics, and Health Equity at the UCLA Geffen School of Medicine, students learned about the history of school lunch programs, their current state, and (of course) whether pizza qualifies as a vegetable.

Each panelist contributed a unique perspective to the conversation. Following Dr. Slusser’s historical overview of these programs and a short video, Diana Winters, Assistant Director of Scholarship at the Resnick Center for Food Law and Policy, provided background on the trajectory of school lunch programs under the Trump administration, and the role of the federal government in administering these programs. Ivy Marx, a Senior Nutrition Specialist with LAUSD, explained how school lunch programs are administered in Los Angeles, and voiced the challenges presented by both budget constraints and picky children. Paula Sirola, the Executive Director of Seeds to Plate, stressed the impact of nutrition education on a child’s overall well-being, and how Seeds to Plate’s interactive gardening program helps foster a more holistic learning experience. Cheryl Leahy, General Counsel at Compassion Over Killing (COK), explained COK’s animal-welfare focused approach to school lunch reform, articulating concerns regarding the role of industrial agriculture interests in school lunch policy, and highlighting the organization’s efforts to reduce meat consumption in schools through legal and policy advocacy.

Over 100 students RSVP’d for the panel, and feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Law students appreciated that they were exposed to the diverse perspectives of the panelists, and found the conversation both lively and productive. As finals season approaches and meal-prep takes the backseat, the most reassuring news of the day was perhaps at the close of the event, when Ivy Marx answered the most obvious outstanding question: yes, pizza is still a vegetable.*

*LAUSD pizza has whole wheat crust and no added sugar.

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The Resnick Center hosts the Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations – 2/15

This is sure to be a fantastic event.

 

UCLA Law’s Resnick Center for Food Law and Policy and the Promise Institute for Human Rights invite you to a very special reception for and talk by José Graziano da Silva, the Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, on February 15, 2019, at UCLA Law School.  The Director General will speak on the Right to Food and the Global Agenda to Reverse Hunger and Malnutrition, and will be introduced by Hilal Elver, Global Distinguished Fellow at the Resnick Center and the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, United Nations Human Rights Council.

Date:     February 15, 2019

Time:     1:00-1:30pm, Reception [Shapiro Courtyard, UCLA Law;                                                               1:30-3:00pm, Presentation [Room 1457, UCLA Law]

Please RSVP to: resnickcenter@law.ucla.edu

 

Daily Parking permits for Lot 2 and Lot 3 are available for purchase at the Information Kiosk on Westholme Ave. and Hilgard Ave.
Short-term, pay-by-space parking is available at selected entrances to Lot 2 and Lot 3 and by the Law School Building along Charles E. Young Drive East.

UCLA Tech Talk: The Future of Food with Prof. Michael Roberts and Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown

Join UCLA Tech on May 24th for the next UCLA Tech Talk, where Michael Roberts, Executive Director of the Resnick Program for Food Law & Policy at UCLA School of Law, will sit down to discuss the future of food with Ethan Brown, Founder & CEO of Beyond Meat, creators of The Beyond Burger, the first plant-based meat to be sold alongside beef, poultry, and pork in the meat section of the grocery store.

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

Program begins at 7:00 p.m.

 

RSVP is required for admission. Capacity is very limited. 

Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ucla-tech-talk-the-future-of-food-with-prof-michael-roberts-and-beyond-meat-ceo-ethan-brown-tickets-46128962970

Learn more about UCLA’s Resnick Program for Food Law by clicking here. To learn more about Beyond Meat and The Beyond Burger, please visit www.beyondmeat.com.

This event will be live streamed on UCLA Tech’s Twitter page at 7:05pm @UCLAtech

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