by Marion Nestle

Search results: food policy action

Nov 16 2017

Food Policy Action’s 2017 Scorecard on Congressional Votes

Food Policy Action has released its annual scorecard, evaluating how our federal legislators vote on food issues.  In case you haven’t noticed, they aren’t voting on much these days so there wasn’t much to score.

In the Senate, there was only one vote (on the nomination of Scott Pruitt as USDA Secretary), although ten bills were introduced.

In the House, there were five votes and 11 bills.

Overall scores averaged 49%—dismal.

The site has a handy interactive map; click on it to see how your legislators are voting.

In case you want to see just how badly Congress is doing, I’ve been posting these scorecards since they started:

One thought: maybe it’s just as well.

Nov 3 2016

Food Policy Action’s 2016 Congressional Scorecard

This year, only three Senators—Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Richard Durbin—got top scores from Food Policy Action for their votes on food and farm issues.  This is down from the 29 who earned perfect scores in 2015.

In the House, 79 representatives got perfect scores as opposed to 87 in 2015.

The annual Scorecard ranks lawmakers on whether they support legislation on issues such as GMO labeling, hunger, fisheries management, food waste, pesticides, the EPA’s waters of the U.S. rule, among others.

Image result for food policy scorecard map

It’s disappointing that fewer legislators are getting top scores, since one of the purposes of this activity is to hold them accountable and encourage more liberal voting on food and farm issues.

 

 

Nov 18 2015

Food Policy Action releases 2015 Congressional scorecard

I went yesterday to the press conference for the release of the Food Policy Action 2015 Scorecard.

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This was outdoors at Campos Community Garden in Manhattan’s East Village, attended by classes of schoolkids.  The speakers:

Food Policy Action aims to improve national discussions of food policy issues by informing the public about how elected officials vote on these issues.  Hence: the Scorecard.

As I discussed last year, points are awarded for votes on bills introduced or co-sponsored that deal with:

  • Domestic and international hunger
  • Food safety
  • Food access
  • Farm subsidies
  • Animal welfare
  • Food and farm labor
  • Nutrition
  • Food additives
  • Food transparency
  • Local and regional food production
  • The environmental effects of food production

In the Senate, for example, there were just 5 bills to be voted on an 10 that were co-sponsored (but not voted on).  In the House, there were votes on 10 bills and 12 that were co-sponsored (no vote).  This leaves lots of room for improvement, even among the best.

The speakers explained to the kids that the Scorecard gave grades to members of Congress, just like they get, and took them through a discussion of thumbs up and thumbs down appraisals of legislators’ votes on key food issues.  Congress is doing a little better this year than last, they said, but still has a long way to go.

Those of us in New York are lucky.  Both of our Senators, Kirsten Gillbrand and Charles Schumer scored 100.

Here are my reports on the Scorecards from 2013 and 2014.  The Scorecard is a great first step in holding legislators accountable.

Oct 22 2014

Food Policy Action rates Congress on food issues

Food Policy Action announced the release of its second annual National Food Policy Scorecard last week, ranking members of the House and Senate on their votes on key food-related issues.

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Food Policy Action is unique among food advocacy organizations in its explicit use of the political process.  Its goal is to

promote policies that support healthy diets, reduce hunger at home and abroad, improve food access and affordability, uphold the rights and dignity of food and farm workers, increase transparency, improve public health, reduce the risk of food-borne illness, support local and regional food systems, protect and maintain sustainable fisheries, treat farm animals humanely and reduce the environmental impact of farming and food production.

How?  By holding legislators accountable for their foods on food and farming issues.  Hence: The Food Policy Scorecard.

I discussed the previous scorecard in December 2013.

On this round, Food Policy Action awarded scores of 100 to 71 members of Congress – 54 in the House of Representatives, 17 in the Senate.

It awarded scores of zero to 35 members.

The scores are given for votes on bills related to key food issues:

  • Hunger
  • Food aid
  • Food labeling
  • Farm subsidies
  • Sustainable farming

The website makes it easy to track your legislators’s votes.

I looked at Senators from New York.

  • Kirsten Gillbrand scores 85 (she lost points by voting against reducing federal insurance subsidies for rich farmers and against protecting states’ rights to require GMO labels)
  • Charles Schumer scores 100

This is a valuable tool for anyone who cares how politics works in America.  Let’s hope it encourages citizens to hold their representatives accountable and legislators to think twice before voting against consumer-friendly food and farming bills.

 

Dec 11 2013

Food Policy Action releases handy Congress “scorecard” on food issues

Washington is such a mess that you can’t tell the players without a scorecard, and this one is really useful.

Food Policy Action to the rescue.

Food Policy Action is a project of the Environmental Working Group.  Ken Cook of EWG is its chair.  Tom Colicchio is listed as the first board member.

The 2013 National Food Policy Scorecard ranks each member of the Senate and House on their votes on food issues.

The interactive map lets you click on a state and see how our congressional representatives are voting.  According to the scorecard, 87 members are Good Food Champions.  We need more!

I looked up New York.  Senator Charles Schumer gets a perfect 100%.  Yes!

But Senator Kirsten Gillibrand only gets 67%.

How come?  Click on her name and the site lists her votes on key legislation.  Oops.  She voted against GMO labeling and against a key farm bill amendment on crop insurance.  If you click on the button, you get to learn more about this vote and the legislation.

This kind of information is hard to come by.  Food Policy Action’s scorecard is easy to use and performs a terrific public service.

Thanks to everyone responsible for it.

Jul 14 2020

Recent items on food insecurity

With millions of people out of work, food insecurity is becoming a bigger problem than it has been. Some recent items:

From Politico: “Stark racial disparities emerge as families struggle to get enough food”

The last time the government formally measured food insecurity nationally was in 2018. At that time, about 25 percent of Black households with children were food insecure. Today, the rate is about 39 percent, according to the latest analysis by the Northwestern economists, which is set to be published this week. For Hispanic households with kids, the rate was nearly 17 percent in 2018. Today, it is nearly 37 percent.

From Northwestern, a new report: “Food Insecurity During COVID-19 in Households with Children: Results by Racial and Ethnic Groups

Disparities in food insecurity across racial and ethnic groups are large. Across the eight weeks for which CHHPS microdata are available covering April 23–June 23, 41.1% of Black respondents’ households have experienced food insecurity in the prior week, as have 36.9% of Hispanic respondents’ households and 23.2% of White respondents’ households.

From the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project: “About 14 million children in America are not getting enough to eat”

Accounting for the number of children in these households, I find that 13.9 million children lived in a household characterized by child food insecurity in the third week in June, 5.6 times as many as in all of 2018 (2.5 million) and 2.7 times as many than did at the peak of the Great Recession in 2008 (5.1 million). During the week of June 19-23, 17.9 percent of children in the United States live in a household where an adult reported that the children are not getting enough to eat due to a lack of resources.

From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: “Boosting SNAP: 5 Reasons Why Households Need More”

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act of March included much-needed measures to temporarily increase SNAP benefits for many households and let state SNAP agencies temporarily modify procedures…But these temporary benefits didn’t help everyone who needs them, and they aren’t enough to help families afford food, given the challenges that COVID-19 and the downturn have presented. Here are five reasons why the next relief package needs to include an additional boost in SNAP benefits:

From The Counter: “Covid-19 has increased online SNAP purchases twentyfold—and Amazon, Walmart have a lock on virtually all those sales”

The USDA has been pushing online food sales for SNAP recipients, and COVID-19 is accelerating the trend.  The Counter article explains that

more than 750,000 households had used food stamps benefits online as of late June. That’s up from just 35,000 in March….As of early July, 43 states are approved to accept SNAP benefits online, and 39 have the program up and running.

The Counter also notes:

One thing is certain: At this point, two big retailers stand to benefit from the explosion in online SNAP sales. In 34 of the 39 states, Amazon and Walmart are the only participating grocers. The reasons why are likely logistical.. Few independent grocers have the web infrastructure to display and update their inventory online, making Amazon and Walmart a kind of duopoly by default. Even fewer have enough staff to assemble complex orders and deliver them to people’s homes. By contrast, Amazon and Walmart have been investing heavily in grocery delivery for years.

Comment

No matter how useful they are, online deliveries cost more and SNAP does not pay delivery costs.  Online also requires a computer and broadband access.  Do SNAP participants have these things?

The 750,000 housaeholds using the online system constitute a small fraction of the 19 million households enrolled in SNAP.

We have a long way to go to solve problems of food insecurity in this country.

Mar 30 2020

Coronavirus and food: weekly update

RIP

  • Floyd Cardoz, a chef whose food I loved, is one of the early casualties.  I last talked to him at an event not six weeks ago.  He was having a hard time.  But to end like this?  A heartbreak.

Predictions of high risk

Effects on food systems

The alcohol industry responds

Here come the panaceas

Here come the frauds

For useful information

  • The CUNY Urban Food Policy Center is studying the effects of Covid-19 on New York City’s food system.  Its website is here.
  • The New York State Health Foundation has COVID-19 resources for nonprofits and community-based organizations, about food assistance as well as other matters.
Mar 24 2020

Coronavirus and food: this week’s update

From the New York Times

Does food transmit Coronavirus?  

Keeping up Coronoavirus  

How to survive working at home (watch out for junk food) 

How to take action

Advice for the food industry

  • US lays out new COVID-19 guidelines for food industry  The Trump Administration released a set of coronavirus guidelines for all Americans, with special provisions for critical infrastructure industries like food and beverage. Brands have been adapting this week to the new reality, while keeping employee safety a top priority…. Read more

What’s happening with supermarkets and supply chains?

What to avoid: dubious schemes for immune boosting

Who profits from this?

What else?