This American election year, a number of organizations are encouraging voters to vote not only with their forks but with their votes—for the kind of food system they want to see happening in their communities.
Earlier this year, Food Tank encouraged the Presidential candidates to answer a series of questions: How would you support small and medium-sized organic farmers? What would you do to eradicate hunger in America, and give families access to wholesome produce? What is your stance on GMO labeling, and what changes would you make towards the current policy?
According to Plate of the Union, the American Food System is out of balance. Right now, the health of both people and the planet is at risk as food policies prioritize corporate interests. Obesity, type-2 diabetes, and other diet-related diseases are rising—and costing taxpayers billions of dollars every year.
But voters can take action and encourage the next President to fix the broken food system.
Plate of the Union, a consortium of environmental, food, and health groups including the Union of Concerned Scientists, Food Policy Action, and the Health Environment Agriculture Labor Alliance (HEAL), is calling on the next President to take bold action to build a food system that rewards farmers and farming practices that protect the environment, provide dignity and fair wages to workers, and ensure all Americans have access to healthy and affordable food.
Throughout the presidential campaign, Plate of the Union will call on candidates to acknowledge that the food system is broken, hear concerns from people, and propose solutions to fix it. Claire Benjamin Dimattina, Executive Director of Food Policy Action (FPA), said, “Our food system is broken and we see the results of that across the country. We need the candidates for President to acknowledge the problem and make a commitment to solving that issue. We are going to amplify the work of the American people on this issue and make sure our elected officials know that this is an issue they need to be prepared to take on, and we will even help them craft their policies.”
Right now, consumers and voters can track the most important food legislation with FPA’s easy-to-use Scorecard. The National Food Policy Scorecard shows how legislators in the House and Senate voted on important food and farming issues, and which legislators are working toward the sensible food policies our nation and our families need. “The National Food Policy Scorecard is a tool that helps Americans see how our elected leaders vote on food and farm issues,” says Tom Colicchio, celebrity chef and FPA co-founder. "And now, we’re turning our attention to the next president. They must champion laws that prioritize healthy, affordable food.”
Unfortunately, many policies fuel poor health, but Plate of the Union hopes that policymakers will start leading change in the food system from the top.
“Our current system is set up to keep junk food cheap, but these are the same foods that we see driving the rate of chronic health problems,” said Ricardo Salvador, Senior Scientist and Director of the Food and Environment Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “We need to address the root of the problem, instead of spending hundreds of millions [of dollars] only trying to combat the results, by making sure we support the production and consumption of affordable foods.”
Over the summer, Plate of the Union will be traveling the country in the Plate of the Union Food Truck, stopping in communities in battleground states and at both the Democratic and Republican conventions. During these stops, the Plate of the Union team will be growing, engaging, and strengthening a grassroots coalition of Americans who care deeply about food and farm issues and who are ready to see a change in the policies.
“We see how the market has changed when it comes to grocery shopping and eating healthy in our country. We see more farmers' markets growing in popularity and parents looking to provide the best food for their kids, but we need our policies and Congress to catch up with the public,” said Navina Khanna, Director of the HEAL Food Alliance. “Our next president is going to have a unique opportunity to lead this change and improve the health of Americans across the country.”
Plate of the Union is building a strong voice for all in the food and farm movement. Check out their petition and call on the next President to make real and positive change in the food system in 2017!