Clinical and Pro Bono Programs

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Tag: Mississippi Delta Project

Emily Broad Leib named clinical professor of law

via Harvard Law Today

photo of Emily Broad Leib sitting on a rock bench in front of a grass lawn

credit: Jessica Scranton

Emily Broad Leib ’08, founder and director of the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic, has been named clinical professor of law at Harvard Law School. She was formerly an assistant clinical professor at HLS.

A national leader in food law and policy, Broad Leib founded the first food law and policy clinic in the country at Harvard Law School. She has used her position to advocate for improvements to the laws and policies that govern America’s food system, including in the area of food waste. She also serves as deputy director of the Harvard Law School Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation.

“Emily Broad Leib is a superb teacher and is internationally respected for her groundbreaking work on food law and policy,” said John F. Manning ’85, the Morgan and Helen Chu Dean of Harvard Law School. “Through her commitment, intellectual leadership, and teaching, she has inspired countless students and attorneys to pursue options within the legal system to improve the food system and enhance the well-being of others.”

“I am humbled by my promotion to clinical professor, and full of gratitude at the opportunity to continue working alongside the committed and inspiring faculty, staff, and students of the HLS community. It has been a pleasure to make my home at such a supportive institution that has provided the resources and vision for me to build the first clinic in food law and policy, to develop opportunities for students to learn and participate in the vital field of food law, and to see the impact the Food Law and Policy Clinic has had and will continue to have on policies that impact the environment, health, and social justice,” Broad Leib said.

Broad Leib joined HLS’s Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation in 2010 as a senior clinical fellow. The following year, in 2011, she founded the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC), which provides legal advice to nonprofits and government agencies, while educating law students about ways to use law and policy to impact the food system.

Broad Leib focuses her scholarship, teaching, and practice on finding solutions to some of today’s biggest food law issues, aiming to increase access to healthy foods, eliminate food waste, and support sustainable food production. She has published scholarly articles in the California Law Review, Wisconsin Law Review, the Harvard Law & Policy Review, and the Food & Drug Law Journal, among others.

In 2015, she was an inaugural recipient of Harvard University’s Climate Change Solutions Fund. Her project “Reducing Food Waste as a Key to Addressing Climate Change,” was one of seven chosen from around the university to confront the challenge of climate change by leveraging the clinic’s food law and policy expertise to identify systemic solutions to reduce food waste, which is a major driver of climate change.

Under Broad Leib’s direction, FLPC has been advocating for the standardization of date labels since the release of its 2013 report “The Dating Game: How Confusing Food Date Labels Lead to Food Waste in America.” FLPC has also worked with members of Congress on legislation to reform the expiration date system, and Broad Leib testified for Congress on date labels and other areas of federal policy that impact the amount of food that goes to waste. She led work with the two largest food trade associations to implement a voluntary standard for date labels, which will go into effect this year. Last summer, the clinic released a follow up issue brief “Date Labels: The Case for Federal Action.”

Beyond date labels, Broad Leib has led the clinic in supporting food producers, businesses, and government agencies in understanding and improving laws relevant to food waste and food recovery. The clinic’s work has included consulting to government agencies and legislators at the federal level and in nearly two dozen states, and publication of scores of policy reports and toolkits, including Opportunities to Reduce Food Waste in the 2018 Farm Bill (2017) and Food Safety Regulations and Guidance for Food Donations: a 50-State Survey of State Practices (2018) and a number of resources to support states and localities in addressing food waste through policy, including “Bans and Beyond: Designing and Implementing Organic Waste Bans and Mandatory Organics Recycling Laws” (2019) and “Keeping Food Out of the Landfill” (2016).

Drawing on this expertise, in 2019, Broad Leib launched the Global Food Donation Policy Atlas project, through which she and clinic staff and students are partnering with local food donation agencies in fifteen countries around the globe to compare and analyze the laws relevant to food donation, and make recommendations for best practices that can help more safe, wholesome food make it to those in need.

In 2016, she was named by Fortune and Food & Wine to their list of 2016’s Most Innovative Women in Food and Drink. Her groundbreaking work has been covered in such media outlets as The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, The Guardian, TIME, Politico, and the Washington Post. She has appeared on CBS This Morning, CNN, The Today Show, and MSNBC.

In 2016, Broad Leib partnered with colleagues around the country to found the Academy of Food Law and Policy, the first-ever academic association for the growing number of faculty and scholars teaching and writing in the field of food law and policy. She served as the founding co-chair of the Academy’s Board of Trustees from 2016 to 2019.

After graduating from HLS, Broad Leib spent two years in Clarksdale, Mississippi, as the Joint Harvard Law School/Mississippi State University Delta Fellow. She directed the Delta Directions Consortium, a group of university and foundation leaders who collaborate to improve public health and foster economic development in the Delta region. In that role, she worked with community members and outside partners, and with support from more than 60 HLS students, to design and implement programmatic and policy interventions on a range of critical health and economic issues in the region.

Broad Leib’s fellowship work in Mississippi inspired the Mississippi Delta Project, a student practice organization at HLS that provides opportunities for current students to continue advocating for similar issues in the Mississippi Delta region. Broad Leib continues to support that organization as the faculty supervisor. She is also the faculty supervisor for the Harvard Law School Food Law Society.

In 2013, she was appointed deputy director of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation. In 2015, she was named an assistant clinical professor of law.

Broad Leib received her J.D. from Harvard Law School and her B.A. from Columbia University.

Student Practice Organizations Panel 2019

Students attend 2019 SPO Panel

Student Practice Organizations often provide 1Ls with their first opportunity to gain practical legal experience at HLS. Each SPO is typically led by a student board consisting of 2L and 3L students and is supervised by a licensed attorney. Across the 11 SPOs currently active at HLS, a variety of focus areas including housing, immigration, and prison law are represented. Students participating in SPOs do not receive academic credit, however, their hours can count towards the 50-hour pro bono graduation requirement.

The SPO Panel, held earlier this week, provides an opportunity for students to hear directly from the students boards and members of SPOs. During the 2019 SPO Panel, representatives from all 11 SPOs spoke on focus areas, levels of commitment, attorney supervision and particularly emphasized the communities formed in each individual SPO through the work that they do.

“Community is one of our main priorities. It was a game changer for me. I met some of my closest friends, it reminded me why I decided to come to law school.” said Emma Broches, co-president of HLS Advocates for Human Rights, on her experience with SPOs.

President of Harvard Defenders Martina Tiku also noted how SPOs encourage members to interact with other students and individuals in the field who are committed to and passionate about the work that they do, reflecting the sentiments of several other panel participants.  “You get a chance to talk to people who are passionate about their work.” she said.

For students interested in joining an SPO, the organizations hold information sessions and open houses are coming up. All SPOs require some form of registration or sign-up, with several requiring separate applications. While all SPOs accept students in the fall, some  accept members during the spring term. Information session, open house, and registration/application deadline dates can be found on the  Opportunities for Student Practice Matrix.


SPO Skills Matrix

SPO Sign-Ups

SPO Student Reflections

My Time with the Mississippi Delta Project

By: Emanuel Powell, J.D. ’19

From left to right, Emanuel Powell ’19, Sacajawea “saki” Hall, a Environmental Justice Initiative Client at Cooperation Jackson, and Megan Barnes ’19. Students interviewed saki and other community activists, jurists, and lawyers to learn about criminal legal issues in Mississippi.

From left to right, Emanuel Powell ’19, Sacajawea “saki” Hall, a Environmental Justice Initiative Client at Cooperation Jackson, and Megan Barnes ’19. Students interviewed saki and other community activists, jurists, and lawyers to learn about criminal legal issues in Mississippi.

Back in 2015, I decided to become an attorney so I could play my part in what I saw as the continuing efforts of the Mississippi Freedom Struggle. Despite the end of Jim Crow’s form of legalized and explicit racial subordination, my home state still ranks last in “almost every leading health outcome” with a disproportionate burden on Mississippi’s black population and other communities of color, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health. This situation is directly linked to our state’s unique history of discrimination, exclusion, and ongoing lack of investment to radically change the conditions in which people are born, work, grow, and age. I decided to go to law school to explore how I may support those fighting in Mississippi to make my state a home in which poverty, hunger and homelessness were not tolerated, where Dr. King’s “Beloved Community” could finally be realized.

Because of these goals, I asked everyone I could about Harvard Law’s Mississippi Delta Project. The Mississippi Delta Project (MDP) is a student practice organization dedicated to supporting Mississippi-based organizations fighting for racial, economic, and other forms of social justice by providing research and guidance on policy issues. An HLS alum created the project after learning from community partners based in Mississippi that there was a need to support local farmers. I wanted to be part of an organization that not only put the needs of Mississippians first, but met those needs with legal and policy strategies as only an attorney could. The presence of MDP on campus made it easy to choose HLS when the time came to make the decision of where I would spend my three years of law school.

I joined MDP in my first semester, working on our Child and Youth Initiative. Our project focused on exploring ways to invest in advocacy for children in Mississippi. I helped create MDP’s Criminal Justice Initiative to address issues in the criminal legal system in my second year. We collaborated with the MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Mississippi, which advocates for human rights and social justice through litigation, focusing on issues such as police misconduct, wrongful search and seizure, conditions of confinement, and juvenile justice. Through interviews with leading jurists, attorneys, activists, and politicians, we developed a project with MacArthur focused on improving community engagement and advocacy so that Mississippians can advocate for themselves against injustices in the criminal legal system. This initiative has meant a lot to me because I lost my cousin Ronnie “Pie” Shorter in a police shooting during my 1L year. It gives me hope that our project may help Mississippians better advocate  against  injustices  like what happened to Ronnie and continues to happen to so many others in Mississippi and around the  country.

In my time with MDP, we’ve worked with Mississippi-based organizations fighting to get access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for those who have served their sentence for felony convictions, improved access to reproductive health for youth, and help make the City of Jackson zero-waste.  I could not have  asked  for a better place to start building my career as a lawyer in the ongoing Freedom Struggle. I am excited to  see MDP continue its great work and look forward to cheering on as an alum.

Emanuel Powell wins Gary Bellow Public Service Award

Credit: Lorin Granger

By: Alexis Farmer

Harvard Law School (HLS) student Emanuel Powell J.D. ’19 is the winner of this year’s Gary Bellow Public Service Award, established in 2001 to honor Professor Gary Bellow ’60, his commitment to public service, and his innovative approach to the analysis and practice of law. Professor Bellow was a pioneering public interest lawyer who founded and directed Harvard Law School’s clinical programs.

Each year, the Gary Bellow Public Service Award recognizes a student who exemplifies how lawyers can litigate, educate, advocate, and organize to promote social justice. The HLS student body nominates and selects the winner. This year, the finalists were celebrated at an award ceremony and reception on April 23. At the ceremony, Emanuel encouraged his classmates to be mindful of the ways lawyers can either help or hinder social movements. While at HLS, Emanuel worked in a variety of practice areas that focused on movement lawyering.

Emanuel Powell J.D. ’19

Hailing from Liberty, MS, a town of a little over 700 people, Emanuel has always felt called to work in spaces that fight for racial equity. During his undergraduate studies at the University of Southern California (USC), Emanuel was a part of the governing board of the Norman Topping Student Aid Fund. Concerned by the lack of diversity of the undergraduate and graduate student population, two USC undergraduates started the Student Aid Fund, financed by a student tax that helps support low-income students from communities surrounding USC. Next to singing in the gospel choir, he considers his experience on the board “the most fun thing I’ve done at USC.”

After graduating from the Marshall School of Business at USC in 2012, Emanuel spent a summer in Rwanda helping rural farmers start co-ops, using his undergraduate training to help develop social enterprises. He then moved to New York and worked for two consulting organizations. At one, he helped a philanthropic organization focus on investing in racial equity, which culminated in designing a fellowship program for individuals in South Africa and the U.S. fighting to dismantle anti-black racism. That led him to be an active voice in the organization, helping other nonprofits think about funding racial justice work. It was through his experiences that he noticed that lawyers were always in the room. He began to see the law as a path to achieving black liberation and decided to go to law school.

Since starting at HLS, Emanuel has been a member and a leader of the Mississippi Delta Project (MDP) and Harvard Defenders. Additionally, he spent two years at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau. In MDP, he worked on the Child and Youth team, and in Defenders, he represented clients at show-cause hearings. “The classroom setting is valuable for getting the foundational understanding [of the law] . . . but the way I learn best is through experiential learning.” He chose these organizations because, he says, they each orient students to be of service to the community, whether it be individual clients or movement organizers in a specific geographic area. It’s a principle of his to engage with the community in an authentic way. “I have a belief that you should work in community and with movements.”

Emanuel served as the managing editor of the Harvard Black Letter Law Journal, which uses legal scholarship to support Black communities, and is a member of the political action committee of the Black Law Student Association.

Referencing Audre Lorde’s quote, “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house,” and Emanuel said that “law school helped me realize I didn’t even want the master’s house dismantled, I want our own house or our own safe communities. That’s what I’m most excited about.” He lights up when he speaks about supporting movements creating alternative systems for economic, legal, and social prosperity that truly support disadvantaged communities. He wants to use the law to support these alternative structures. He says there is a lot of opportunity to support those leading movements for social change, “but,” he cautions, “if we’re not careful, we [as lawyers] have the power to stop them from accessing a better future.” He looks to Fannie Lou Hamer as an example, a “regular” person who saw there could a different way of life for Black people in Mississippi. She advocated creating a new structure for jobs and political parties. “As lawyers we can help people like Fannie Lou Hamer or stop people like Fannie Lou Hamer.”

Reflecting on the award and his three years at HLS, Emanuel said, “I was surprised to be nominated. One thing I’ve learned is that there are many students at HLS involved in public interest work across many different issue areas. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to accept this award, especially given the legacy of Gary Bellow and the opportunity to share the great work of some of the community-based organizations I have had the opportunity to work with. I hope I can live up to that legacy as I begin my career as an attorney.”

Upon graduation, Emanuel will be clerking for a judge in Jackson, MS and hopes to work in the South as a movement lawyer.

Examining lead contamination in the Mississippi Delta

By Thomas Wolfe, J.D. ’19

Credit: Thomas Wolfe JD ’19

This spring, I went with the Mississippi Delta Project (MDP) to Clarksdale, Mississippi to work on the issue of lead contamination of municipal water supplies in the Mississippi Delta. I had an excellent trip, and I would recommend the MDP Spring Break trip to anyone interested in making a difference in a fascinating, but overlooked, part of the country.

Since the Flint Water Crisis, the presence of lead in drinking water has become a serious concern for local governments across the country. Old water systems often contain pipes with lead parts, and acidic water or chlorine used to treat other contaminants can corrode the pipes, which causes the lead to leach into the water supply. This can be especially problematic in rural areas, where a lack of funds or awareness of the dangers of lead poisoning can prevent residents and local governments from taking proactive steps to protect against lead contamination. Because of the increased focus on the threat of lead contamination in drinking water and the intense poverty of the Mississippi Delta, our task with MDP was to help our clients, researchers at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, MS, to determine just how significant of a problem lead contamination was for rural municipal water systems in the Delta.

For us this required first educating ourselves about the federal Safe Drinking Water Act and state laws and regulations implementing the Act. This was a fascinating dive into an important and complex statute, and it was made especially interesting because it required learning about how municipal water systems worked.

We then had to apply this information to the context of very small public water systems serving rural areas. This involved the best part of the trip: interviewing local stakeholders to find out which laws were effective, which weren’t, and generally to learn how they ran water systems. I really enjoyed the opportunity to interview people involved in the daily operation of local governments – from water operators, to small town mayors, to state public health department officials, to doctors in the neonatal care unit in Jackson, MS dealing with the effects of public health mismanagement. People were happy to talk to us about the issues facing their communities, and they really looked positively on our work and appreciated the fact that people were thinking and caring about the Delta. For my part, it was really nice to develop my skills as an interviewer, which I think is a key part of being a lawyer. The empathy you develop in speaking with people face to face is often missed in the law school classroom.

We eventually turned this information into memoranda and presentations for our clients, who will take the information and policy recommendations we developed and use it to continue to improve public health in the Delta. I’m proud that the work I produced over the course of the week will help to address the extremely important issue of lead contamination, which causes irreversible developmental issues in children and often affects the most disadvantaged members of society.

And I couldn’t help but mention that on top of the excellent professional and service opportunities that the trip provided, the Delta is one of the cultural wellsprings of America with great music, great food, and lovely people, and it’s a place I’d love to return to on my own. I’m glad I was able to play a small part in helping the people in the region get through hard times.

Working with non-profits and local governments to improve economic well-being and quality of life in the Mississippi Delta

Via the Mississippi Delta Project Spring 2017 Newsletter

Economic Development Team

The Economic Development Team works on solutions that improve economic well-being and quality of life in the Mississippi Delta.  In previous years, our team has worked with both non-profits and local governments, producing policy papers on subjects including public corruption in Arkansas and philanthropic innovation in the Mississippi Delta. This year, the team has partnered with the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi to develop paid family leave policy in Mississippi, which we believe will help support Mississippi families and businesses. Our team members spent the fall semester researching the status of paid leave throughout the United States, ultimately producing a policy paper presenting recommendations for potential legislative strategies to pass paid leave legislation in Mississippi. In the spring semester, we hope to work with the Women’s Foundation to cultivate partnerships with organizations and individuals who can help bolster support and advance paid leave legislation.

Student Spotlight

Marissa Marandola, 1L
Hometown: Cranston, RI

Marissa Marandola, 1L

Marissa Marandola, 1L

Marissa Marandola is a first-year student on the Mississippi Delta Project’s Economic Development Team. Hailing from Cranston, Rhode Island, Marissa received her undergraduate degree in Political Science from Boston College. She worked on paid family and medical leave issues for the United States Department of Labor Women’s Bureau during her senior year of college and this past summer before beginning law school.

Marissa’s passion for government work and experience at DOL has made her a particularly strong asset to the Economic Development Team, which is currently working with the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi to explore potential paid family leave legislation in Mississippi.

“I grew passionate about the potential of paid leave as a vehicle for upward mobility and opportunity, especially for mothers and their children,” Marissa says of her time working for the government. “Coming from a state that is a pioneer on paid family and medical leave, I was initially surprised at the dearth of PFML programs, particularly outside of the New England states. I joined MDP both to broaden my perspective on the national paid leave landscape and in the hopes that my experience at DOL could contribute to our work to bring paid leave to Mississippi.”

Marissa has stayed busy outside of MDP. She serves as a Technical Editor for the Journal on Legislation, works as a research assistant for Professor David Wilkins in the Center for the Legal Profession, is a first-year representative for the Law and Government Program of Study, and is a member of the Catholic Law Students Association. After law school, she hopes to continue to pursue labor and employment issues and a career in government.

“The Mississippi Delta Project strongly influenced my decision to come to law school at Harvard”

Via the Mississippi Delta Project Spring 2017 Newsletter

Student Spotlight

Emanuel Powell, 1L
Hometown: Liberty, MS

Emanuel Powell 1L

Emanuel Powell 1L

Emanuel Powell is originally from Liberty, MS and went to high school in Greenville, MS. He studied finance at USC in Los Angeles, CA and worked for four years as a nonprofit strategy consultant in New York City before coming to Harvard Law School.

“The Mississippi Delta Project strongly influenced my decision to come to law school at Harvard,” he says, “both to explore a different way of having positive social impact through policy as well as to build community with others that care about the South and supporting my home state.”

After law school, Emanuel’s goal is to support community development efforts back home in Mississippi. He is thankful to have the opportunity to work with MDP to to begin exploring what that work may look like after graduation.

Strengthening the Farm to School movement in Mississippi

Via the Mississippi Delta Project Spring 2017 Newsletter

Food Policy Team

For the past few years, the Food Policy Team has been working to strengthen the Farm to School movement in Mississippi. Through Farm to School programs, schools purchase food from local producers to feature on their menus and use in classroom activities. Farm to School seeks to improve child nutrition, teach children about agriculture and healthy diets, and build relationships between schools and local farmers. Last year, we conducted a 50 state survey, interviewed stakeholders in Mississippi and around the country, and compiled a report identifying recommendations which could be adopted in Mississippi.

This year, we have been working on narrowing in on particular recommendations and turning them into reality. In the Fall of 2016, we carried out a series of projects on behalf of the Mississippi Farm to School Network (MFSN). These included a pamphlet summarizing our recommendations for strengthening the Farm to School movement in Mississippi, a survey of the recommendations, and a series of interviews with interested stakeholders. The goal of these projects was to identify which recommendations would be most valuable and feasible in bolstering farm to school.

In the Spring of 2017, our team has three primary objectives. First, we will complete a legislative advocacy toolkit to assist MFSN in advancing farm to school legislation. This toolkit will include, information on how the legislative process works in Mississippi, as well as how advocates can affect and direct it. Second, we will write a short report analyzing how other states have utilized relationships with University Extensions in their Farm to School programs. Finally, we will encourage the Mississippi Department of Education to issue a guidance promoting the use of the Mississippi Farm Food Safety Checklist. The checklist is intended to be a substitute for costly formal food safety certifications, and its widespread use could help remove administrative costs that make it difficult for small farmers to sell to schools.

Student Spotlight

Sarah Atkins, 1L
Hometown: Lexington, KY

Sarah Atkins, 1L

Sarah Atkins, 1L

Sarah Atkins is a first-year law student on the Food Policy Team. Having grown up in Kentucky, she was excited for an opportunity to stay connected to the South. Sarah joined the Food Policy Team because it fit naturally with her lifelong interest in childhood nutrition.

“Food policy is such a critical area of law,” she says, “It has the potential to help a phenomenal number of people, especially children.”

Prior to law school, Sarah earned a bachelor’s degree in English from
Yale University. During college, she managed a charity bookstore whose proceeds supported local homeless shelters, and she taught sex ed to girls living in orphanages in Vietnam. After graduating, Sarah worked for two years as a paralegal in New York, which confirmed her interest in the law.

At law school, in addition to the Food Policy Team, Sarah participates in the Journal on Legislation. While she is not exactly sure what she will be doing after law school, it will likely involve healthcare law and the South.

Bringing help and hope to Mississippi Delta

Susana Cervantes, J.D. '17

Susana Cervantes, J.D. ’17

By Susana Cervantes, J.D. ’17
Student Leader, Mississippi Delta Project

I initially joined the Mississippi Delta Project (“MDP”) my 1L fall as a way to stay connected to the region that had charmed its way into a special place in my heart. While I’m originally from California and went to college in Boston, I spent the two years before law school as a high school teacher with Teach for America in Jackson, Mississippi. Many people in the nation only know Mississippi for its failures: for example, the fact that it has some of the highest rates of obesity, teen pregnancy, and child poverty in the nation. These troubles are real, and especially so in the Mississippi Delta, an area of deeply entrenched generational poverty and racial divides. But at the same time, these statistics belie the beauty of Mississippi and the indefatigable spirit of its people. Living in Mississippi I got to see the hopes that many of my students had for a better future, and the work that they, my colleagues, and others were doing to make that future a reality.

When I moved back to the Northeast for law school, it was important for me to continue contributing in some way to that movement for change, so I joined the Child and Youth Advocacy Team of MDP. Doing so ended up also being a great way to build up some of my lawyerly skills and understanding. My team was partnering with the Mississippi State Health Department to encourage “Baby-Friendly” hospital policies that would promote breastfeeding. As part of my research for the project, I had the chance to talk with health department officials in other states that had launched similar, successful initiatives. In the process, I learned a lot about implementing effective policy, and the many stakeholders and considerations involved in taking an idea from its initial conception to its ultimate fruition. I also grew significantly as a policy writer by contributing to and editing portions of the final report that we delivered to our client.

Looking back, I can see some of the rippling effects that our work has had over the past couple of years. When we started our Baby-Friendly Hospital project, Mississippi had zero hospitals that were officially certified by UNICEF/WHO as “Baby-Friendly.” Since the release of our report, one Mississippi hospital has been certified as Baby-Friendly and at least two more are on their way. Our report also helped build the foundation to do more work around breastfeeding in Mississippi. For example, last year, another MDP team successfully campaigned to pass a state law that affirmatively protects the right of breastfeeding employees to express milk in the workplace. Seeing these kinds of results has been incredibly rewarding.

I’ve also been fortunate in my new role as Co-Chair of the project because I’ve gotten to hear from lots of new and returning members about why they joined and why they have stayed. Some have deep ties to Mississippi or other areas of the South, having been raised there and perhaps hoping to return to work there after graduation. Some, like me, aren’t from the region, but have spent some time there and become fascinated by its charms. Others have never set foot past the Mason-Dixon line before, but are intrigued by the opportunity to do domestic policy work. But above all, they share a deep and inspiring passion for creating a meaningful impact in a region that can benefit from our time and resources. The joy of collaborating with them, as well as with our amazing clients and partners on the ground in Mississippi, regularly reminds me why I’ve chosen to work in public interest law and policy.

Updates from the Mississippi Delta Project

Via Mississippi Delta Project Newsletter


Food Policy Team

This year, the Food Policy Team is working on a year-long project in partnership with the Mississippi Farm to School Network. Our goal is to get a sense of the road blocks and hurdles which stand in the way of the Farm to School movement in Mississippi, and how state legislation can aid the process. The project involves conducting interviews with Mississippi citizens, such as farmers, school workers, and members of local government, in order to discern the needs and problems unique to the area. We have also been conducting interviews with individuals involved with Farm to School efforts in other parts of the country, both in states with particularly successful Farm to School programs, and states that are geographically similar to Mississippi. Furthermore, we have been collecting information on state and local laws, programs, and grants relating to the Farm to School movement in Mississippi as well as throughout the country.

Our research and interviews have brought to light many different strategies employed by states to increase local food consumption in schools, including interagency councils, farm directories to connect schools and farmers, and creative grant and funding programs. We will ultimately use our research to write a paper suggesting policy changes which incorporate the best practices used in other states, tailored to fit unique cultural and environmental features that affect Mississippi’s Farm to School program.

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Harvard’s ties to the Mississippi Delta region continue to thrive and grow stronger and deeper with each passing year

Via Mississippi Delta Project 
By Colin Ross, Harvard Mississippi Delta Project Co-Chair, HLS ‘16

Celebration copyOn the evening of November 18th, the students and faculty of the Harvard University community came together for the 7th annual Delta Celebration—a chance to share appreciation for the beauty and culture of the region, and to exchange insights about ways to help confront its challenges. Students and faculty of the Harvard Law School and School of Public Health were joined by special guest speaker Professor John Green, the Director of the Center on Population Studies at the University of Mississippi. HLS Dean Martha Minow also took the time to attend and give remarks.

The Delta region continues to face a range of economic, social, and health challenges, from poverty to obesity to unemployment. Since its inception, the Food Law and Policy Clinic has been committed to helping address these challenges, including supervising the student practice organization, the Harvard Mississippi Delta Project. At the event, the leaders of the Delta Project presented about their team’s efforts to study and address these challenges for clients in Mississippi. These include:

  • The Food Policy Initiative is working to get healthier, local food into Mississippi’s schools. The team members are working with the state’s burgeoning farm-to-school network to study what policies could further support the growth of farm to school programs in Mississippi;
  • The Health Initiative is doing advocacy work to support a bill in the Mississippi legislature to encourage breast-feeding, and spread the health and economic benefits the practice brings;
  • The Economic Development Initiative is studying the ways grant funding works in the region and how it might be streamlined; and
  • The Child & Youth Initiative is tackling a delicate but critical issue: the obstacles to contraceptive access in Mississippi and how reducing them could end the state’s high rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Dean Minow praised these efforts and the overall commitment to the Delta as a concrete example of students carrying out the HLS mission to advance justice in society.

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Clinic students document lessons learned outside the classroom

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Via HLS News

This March, several teams of HLS students used their Spring Break to work on a number of humanitarian projects, including documenting property rights issues in the Mississippi Delta, working with asylum seekers in detention centers at the Texas border, and helping undocumented immigrants in Chicago with their applications for permission to stay in the U.S. With photos and blog posts, students documented the lessons they learned about the law outside the classroom. Read more below.

Alternative spring break trips for students are developed and sponsored by theOffice of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs. This is the 11th year that the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs has funded; The trips originated in response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when students went to New Orleans to assist displaced families.

Colin Ross ’16: documenting the heirs property system in Mississippi

There had been a murder in the town of Clarksdale, Mississippi—the third in a month; A high number for a town of just over 17,000 in the heart of the Mississippi Delta. The crowd had gathered in the street to hold a nighttime candlelight vigil to remember and honor the victim. Towards the back of the crowd, the police chief and other plainclothes police officers silently observed the scene. The vigil ended with the release of balloons and with prayer. Maybe locals more steeped in past tragedies, and who may have seen such vigils come and go without result in the past, would have said differently, but to this Harvard outsider at least, there was an energy on that dark street. Continue reading

Isabel Broer ’16: community lawyering with CALA in Chicago

We were in Chicago to support the work of the Community Activism Law Alliance(CALA). Founded in late 2014 by HLS alumnus Lam Ho’08 with a seed grant from Public Service Venture Fund, CALA endeavors to bring free legal services to some of Chicago’s most disadvantaged communities. CALA practices “community activism lawyering,” which prioritizes meaningful collaboration with and grassroots activism in the communities it serves. Continue reading

Mojca Nadles LL.M. ’15: asylum representation in Texas

After a brief orientation, we headed to the Port IsabelDetention Center and got started interviewing clients right away. Our clients were all young men from Somalia who had survived against incredible odds and made the extremely long journey from Somalia to Texas. As volunteers, we conducted extensive interviews to collect all the information we would need to fill out the clients’ asylum applications in a way that would make it clear to the immigration judge that they had a well-founded fear of persecution if they returned to Somalia. Continue reading

Harvard Law Students Visit Delta Center

Harvard University Law School students recently received an overview of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area by Dr. Roland Herts, director of Delta State's Delta Center for Culture and Learning. The center's Lee Aylward led a tour of the area.

Harvard University Law School students recently received an overview of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area by Dr. Roland Herts, director of Delta State’s Delta Center for Culture and Learning. The center’s Lee Aylward led a tour of the area.

Via the Delta State University 

Harvard University Law School students recently spent a week in the Delta as part of an initiative between Mississippi State University and Harvard. The project is based in Clarksdale Miss. and is called the Harvard Mississippi Delta Project. 

The students took some time during the week to tour the Delta. Dr. Roland Herts, director of Delta State’s Delta Center for Culture and Learning provided the students an overview of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, and the center’s Lee Aylward led the Delta tour.

The mission of the Harvard Mississippi Delta Project is to improve public health and promote economic development in the Delta. These terms are viewed in the broadest sense to include a range of topics such as financial services, healthy eating, education, infant mortality reduction and more. In addition, the project hopes to engage Harvard Law School students in innovative, interdisciplinary approaches to social change. By using their legal knowledge to support local partners in one of the poorest and most under-served areas of the United States, they hope to be a small part of our region’s larger transformation.

More than 100 law students have volunteered with the project by providing pro bono legal assistance and policy analysis for nonprofit, for-profit and governmental clients in the Delta. The platform regularly considers new assignments to which it can contribute, and this year’s assignment is heir-ship.

Learn more about the project at
Learn about the Delta Center for Culture and Learning at

Harvard Delta Clinical Fellow’s Work on Breastfeeding in MS Highlighted

Desta Reff, Mississippi Delta Fellow

Desta Reff, Mississippi Delta Fellow

Via the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation 

Last week, the Jackson Free Press published a cover story, via the Hechinger Report, on Breastfeeding Rates in Mississippi. Despite the numerous health benefits, Mississippi has some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the country. This is especially problematic because the benefits of breastfeeding address many of the health issues that plague Mississippi, such as high rates of diabetes, SIDS, and obesity. The Jackson Free Press also published an article focused on whether policy changes can increase breastfeeding in Mississippi.

The articles feature the efforts of Desta Reff, the Harvard Delta Clinical Fellow, and her efforts to increase breastfeeding rates through programs and policies within the state.

As the Harvard Delta Clinical Fellow, Desta is a joint appointee of Harvard Law School and Mississippi State University and works, in close collaboration with CHLPI’s Food Law and Policy Clinic, to improve public health and economic development in the Delta.

Garden of Hope: A Documentary on Farm to School in Mississippi

Via the Harvard Food Law and Policy Blog

In the fall of 2013, Desta Reff, the Harvard Law School/Mississippi State University fellow, produced this documentary on Farm to School programs in Mississippi. The documentary was shown at the 2013 Farm to Cafeteria Conference on December 3rd, 2013, to an audience of over 150 people. It chronicles the efforts of schools, growers, and advocates in Mississippi working to increase children’s consumption of fresh, healthy, locally grown foods. Watch it here.

Over the past few years, the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic has worked closely with the Mississippi Food Policy Council, as well as farmers, schools, government agencies and other stakeholders in Mississippi to foster the creation of Farm to School programs in the state. The initial Clinic project was a report on barriers to expanding farm to school in Mississippi, written in spring 2011 (Expanding Farm to School in Mississippi). Following that report, the Food Law and Policy Clinic, working with the Harvard Law School Mississippi Delta Project, developed legislative recommendations (Mississippi Farm to School Legislative Recommendations) that the Mississippi Food Policy Council and the Mississippi Legislative Task Force on Healthy Food Access could use for advocacy for farm to school legislation in 2012. Two of these recommendations passed in the state legislature and are now state laws.

Food Law and Policy Clinic Launches Guide for Mississippi Growers Selling to Local Institutions

Via the Harvard Food Law and Policy Blog

Public institutions in Mississippi, including schools, hospitals and prisons, are increasingly recognizing the benefit of purchasing fresh, locally grown foods to serve in meals to people under their care. To support growers interested in selling to these institutions, we are pleased to announce the release of our new guide: “Farm to Institution: A Step-by-Step Guide to Selling Products to Local Institutions for Mississippi Growers” (Growers’ Guide).

Selling to local institutions helps to increase the economic viability of small and medium-sized growers in Mississippi, as they earn revenue that would otherwise be spent on food shipped in from other states and countries. These growers in turn strengthen the local economy by reinvesting that revenue into the community through hiring more workers and purchasing equipment and supplies, as well as scaling up their food enterprises and making fresh, local food more available. In addition to the economic benefits, serving fresh, locally grown products in institutional meals can lead to increased fruit and vegetable consumption for Mississippians eating those meals, and thus improving public health.

Continue reading…

Mississippi Delta Celebration

L-R: Mr. and Mrs. Winokur of the Winokur Family Foundation and Christopher Masingill, Co-Chairman of the Federal Delta Regional Authority

By: Ona Balkus
Clinical Fellow at the Food Law and Policy Clinic
Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation

The 5th Annual Harvard Mississippi Delta Celebration is an annual celebration of the work students and faculty from schools around Harvard University are doing to improve economic, health, and social conditions in the Delta region of the United States. Student organizations and faculty focus their efforts towards this region because it has historically faced high rates of unemployment, poverty, and less access to higher education. The Celebration, in its 5th year, is made possible annually with the generous support of the Winokur Family Foundation and hosted by the HLS Mississippi Delta Project and the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation.

This year’s celebration, held at Harvard Law School on Wednesday, November 20th, highlighted a wealth of projects members of the Harvard community have engaged in over the past year, including: the HLS Mississippi Delta Project’s pro bono legal and policy work for its partners in the Delta; the HLS Spring Break Pro Bono trip to improve food access in Clarkdale, MS; the Harvard Water Security Initiative’s project to study flood control and environmental issues related to the Mississippi River; Harvard Kennedy School’s Community Development Project’s community engagement work in Greenwood, MS; students assisting state legislators through Mississippi Policy Partners, a partnership between Harvard and the Mississippi NAACP/One Voice; Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative Alumnus Raymond Jetson’s urban civic engagement project Metromorphosis, based in Baton Rouge; and the impressive efforts of the Harvard Law School/Mississippi State University Fellow, Desta Reff, and the first ever Harvard School of Public Health/Mississippi State University Fellow, Maya McDoom, both supported by the Winokur Family Foundation.

Continuing in its success from past years, the event was a great opportunity for students and faculty to meet, network, and build relationships for future collaboration. The Co-Chairman of the Federal Delta Regional Authority, Christopher Masingill, was a guest of honor at the event this year. He closed the celebration by thanking the Harvard community for all of its work, emphasizing the significant impact these projects are making to improve quality of life in the Mississippi Delta region.

A Warm Welcome to Desta Reff

New Harvard Law School/Mississippi State University Delta Fellow Desta Reff

The HLS clinical community welcomes Desta Reff (JD ’13) as the fourth joint Harvard Law School/Mississippi State University Delta Fellow. This fellowship is affiliated with the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation. Desta will be stationed in the Delta region to assist with community development work around public health and economic opportunity, and will also help to oversee the work of the Harvard Law School Mississippi Delta Project student organization. While a student at HLS, Desta helped to found and direct the Harvard Law School Documentary Studio—she is an accomplished documentary filmmaker and will be a great addition to the law school’s work in the Mississippi Delta region!

Harvard law students visit the Delta

Via Delta Business Journal:

The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University introduced six Harvard law students and their supervisor, Nate Rosenberg, to the Delta’s cultural heritage. The students are based in Clarksdale, and all have an interest in the legal issues that govern food.

Lee Aylward, of the Delta Center, provided the heritage tour, following an introductory lecture by Dr. Luther Brown.

2013 Gary Bellow Public Service Award student finalists all involved in HLS clinics

The Gary Bellow Public Service Award was created in 2001 to recognize excellence in public interest work at HLS and to honor Professor Bellow (’60). The awards are given annually by the student body of Harvard Law School to a student and alumnus/a for their commitment to social justice.

The three student finalists for the 2013 Gary Bellow Public Service Award are all HLS clinical students. Their involvement spans a range of HLS clinics and SPOs.

Crystal Redd: Prison Legal Assistance Project, Harvard Defenders, The Mississippi Delta Project, Post-Foreclosure Eviction Defense Clinic, Employment Law Clinic, and Criminal Justice Institute.

Lara Berlin: International Human Rights Clinic, Harvard Mediation Program.

Stephanie Davidson: Harvard Legal Aid Bureau.

Read more about finalists’ work and vote for student and alumnae candidates by March 27th.

Gary Bellow was the founder and former faculty director of Harvard Law School’s Clinical Programs, and a pioneering public interest lawyer. His career was dedicated to providing legal services to the poor and to teaching law students practical skills. Commenting about his time from 1962-1965, when he was serving as deputy director of the Legal Aid Agency for the District of Columbia, and when he and his colleagues faced an enormous caseload with no job training, Professor Bellow told the Harvard Law Bulletin, “We discovered the best legal education America had to offer didn’t teach us how to get someone out of a cell block.”

Professor Bellow co-founded the WilmerHale Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, the school’s major legal clinic, located in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston.

Roundup: Clinical Programs in HLS News

HLS students traveled all over the world during spring break

HLS News presents a nice roundup of student travel over spring break, including mention of pro bono trips to New Orleans, the Mississippi Delta, and Alabama and International Human Rights Clinic trips to Brazil and the Thai/Burmese border. Check it out!

Student Voices: Eating Well in the Mississippi Delta

Delta Fellow Nate Rosenberg and Rob Barnett (JD ’14) tour Leann Hines’s Levee Run Farm, which raises poultry in Greenwood, Mississippi

Today’s dispatch comes from Rob Barnett (JD ’14), who traveled to Mississippi during spring break as part of a pro bono trip organized by Harvard Law School. Rob is a member of Prison Legal Assistance Project (PLAP) a trained mediator with Harvard Mediation Program, and is interested in American Indian law

Over spring break, I was lucky to travel to the Mississippi Delta on a pro bono trip with eight other law students from Harvard and Ole Miss. As Kimberly’s post describes, we spent an unforgettable week researching property law, making friends, and immersing ourselves in the culture and climate of the Delta. We experienced a lot – everything from a one-man blues concert at Red’s to an all-day study session at Ole Miss Law School – and learned even more in the process. But one element of our trip really stood out: the food.

Of course, we consumed a ton of it. Starting with a visit to Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken in downtown Memphis; continuing through visits to acclaimed Clarksdale restaurants like Abe’s (the best BBQ in all of Mississippi), Oxbow (a lunch spot that actually serves vegetarian options), and the Ground Zero Blues Club (where everything comes fried and with music); and finishing with elegant feasts at Snackbar in Oxford and Rendezvous in Memphis, we ate our way through the Delta… and washed it down with many glasses of Southern Pecan and sweet tea. It was a wonderful week of savory Southern cuisine.

Food is an amazing part of Delta culture. However, residents of the Delta don’t always have access to the kinds of fresh food we had at Mississippi’s best restaurants. Although the Delta has some of the country’s richest soil, the vast majority of it is used by to grow the big industrial crops – corn, cotton, and soy – much of which is exported outside the Delta. There are small growers throughout the Delta who are trying to grow local, sustainable, and healthy food, but these farmers often have trouble getting established in the face of confusing property issues and stiff competition from cheaper, less healthy alternatives.

Our work over spring break was designed to address these property issues. In order for small, local farms to be prosperous into the future, their owners should understand how estate plans, clear titles, and various easements can secure their land as farmland for generations to come. Our presentations to Delta farmers on our last day – and the accompanying legal manual we created – were designed with that goal in mind. We also made some policy suggestions for our partners (such as Delta Directions) who continue to work on these important issues in Mississippi.

We finally had to leave the Delta to return to Cambridge, and I know I can speak for my team in saying that we’ve all been craving some delicious Delta food ever since. (I, for one, am hoping to go back.) But in the meantime, it’s critical that the people who actually live in the Delta have access, every day, to the kind of local, sustainable food which we had during our week. I hope and believe that our work in the Delta over spring break will help them get there.

Erin Schwartz (JD ’14) examines vegetables grown in C.W. ‘Doc’ Davis’s greenhouse

HLS group members enjoy a final Southern meal of ribs and sweet tea at Rendezvous in Memphis

Student Voices: Learning About Land Rights in Mississippi

Jamal Khan (HLS ’13), Jack West (Ole Miss ’13), and Rob Barnett (HLS ’14) at the Mississippi River after a day of research

Today’s “Student Voices” post comes from Kimberly Newberry (JD ’14), who traveled to Mississippi during an HLS pro bono spring break trip. Kimberly is a member of PLAP and Harvard Defenders, and plans to go into capital appeals.

The Mississippi Delta is populated by more juke joints than Starbucks (and rightly so as the birthplace of the blues). Nightly strolls are accompanied by the faint strums of guitar in the distance and you can imagine how Robert Johnson allegedly sold his soul to the devil right in the middle of it all. The blues are part of a shared cultural identity among the Delta’s inhabitants, and there is still plenty of heartache to keep the musical tradition alive.

Six of us headed down from HLS to Clarksdale, Mississippi for spring break, where we were joined by Ole Miss students. We were surprised to find that a lot of the regional heartache stemmed from concepts we had covered in our 1L Property classes – easements, color of title, types of estates, and even adverse possession (when a person who is not the legal owner of land can become its owner after having occupied it for a specified period of time). The seemingly difficult task of adversely taking someone’s land is frequently accomplished in parts of Mississippi, and with serious impact on the lives of farmers. From disputes between siblings about what to do with inherited land to questions about how to preserve farmland well into the future, we saw our textbooks come to life.

We also learned about the challenges faced by small, family-owned farms. A few days into our trip, we met with Dustin and Ali, two young farmers whose business growth is constrained by regulations designed for industrial farms but that also apply to them. As a result of Dustin and Ali’s commitment to sustainable farming, they run their farm under different standards than those adhered to by commercial sellers and, as a consequence, cannot sell their goods to larger, more popular grocery stores. These mandatory standards are both prohibitively expensive and largely inapplicable to small-scale sustainable farming, to the detriment of the availability of locally and sustainably grown food. As Dustin put it, “We vote for our president once every four years, but we vote for what to put in our bodies three times a day. And what we vote for today will affect our children tomorrow.” Prior to running their own farm, Dustin and Ali interned at Polyface Farms, which is featured in Michael Pollen’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma.

After seeing how the issues of inheritance, ownership, and land use impacted the lives of residents, we had the opportunity to conduct additional research and then present a tutorial to the farmers. When the workshop was over, the farmers compared notes and shared their experiences with each other. Much was left unanswered but we appreciated the opportunity to learn more about property rights in Mississippi, contribute our knowledge, make a few friends, and soak in the culture and music of the Delta.

Recent Coverage of HLS Pro Bono Trips
Event HLS Students Discuss Spring Break Trip to Alabama
Student Voices: Collaboration and Community in Alabama
Student Voices: Anti-Immigration Law in Alabama (Video)

Julian Smoller (HLS ’12) gives a presentation to Mississippi growers about conservation easements

HLS students collaborated with Ole Miss Law students to host a workshop for local farmers

Clinical Events: Mar 5-9

There’s always an event (or two or three) to attend at HLS. A few clinical events are highlighted below but for a complete listing of HLS events, please visit the HLS calendar.

Harvard Legal Aid Bureau 1L Info Session

Tue, Mar 6, 6–7:30pm
Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, 23 Everett Street

Stop by the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau (HLAB) – the nation’s oldest student legal services organization – to learn more about the application process, the types of cases handled by HLAB, and the HLAB community.

Contesting Childhood: When Law and Politics Go to School
Thu, Mar 8, 12–1pm

WCC 4133

Harvard Law School SJD Candidate Lisa Kelly discusses mandatory schooling in North America and how the seeds of “family privacy” were sewn – and retroactively invented – in response to the shifting relationship between family and state.

Hosted by the Child Advocacy Program.

HLS Advocates for Education Conference – Closing the School to Prison Pipeline: Redirecting our Future
Thu, Mar 8, 9am–6pm

WCC, Milstein East ABC

The HLS Advocates for Education Conference will take a multidisciplinary approach to evaluating the issues that contribute to the school-to-prison pipeline while discussing potential solutions. Professor James Forman Jr. of Yale Law School will be the keynote speaker.

Co-sponsors include Child and Youth Advocates (CYA), Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project (PLAP), Harvard Defenders, La Alianza, Black Law Students Associations (BLSA), Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review (CRCL), Women’s Law Association (WLA), and Harvard Mississippi Delta Project.

Student Voices: From Farm to School in Mississippi

A patch of collard greens grows right on the side of the highway, illustrating that they can grow almost anywhere. Most of the greens served in Mississippi school meals are canned and from outside the state!

Today’s dispatch comes from Ona Balkus, a second-year joint degree student at Harvard Law School and Harvard School of Public Health. Ona spent her winter term working with the Mississippi Food Policy Council as part of the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic. She is also a member of the student practice organization the Mississippi Delta Project and is a student fellow for the Law and Social Change Program of Study. She will be participating in the Food Law and Policy Clinic again for the spring term.

It’s 5:30pm on a Friday and I’m sitting at a small dining room table with six eighth grade girls, a nun, and my friend whom I’m traveling with. The drive into the town where these girls have grown up and live was a bit of a shock, with mostly boarded up stores on the main street, stray dogs on the side of the road, and miles of corn and cotton fields around the small Delta town.

Around the table, we are engaged in serious conversation. “I only like string beans!” “The lunch lady spit in my potatoes today, I swear!” We’re talking about improving school foods, a topic that preoccupies our country and affects these girls every day. The girls like some vegetables, but love fried chicken and cupcakes, and are excited to start a community garden with Sister Kay (the nun who leads this mentorship group) next spring. After talking for an hour about food, cooking, and what they want to be when they grow up (doctors, lawyers, and a cosmetologist), we say our goodbyes and thank them for hosting us at their weekly meeting.

While my winter term assignment is focused on interviewing and learning from school food service staff, farmers, and other food advocates in Mississippi, meeting these girls is just as important for the success of this project. Through the Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Mississippi Delta Project, I’m working to help build a Farm to School movement in Mississippi.

Farm to School is any program where schools use locally grown produce in school meals. With over 40% of Mississippi’s children either overweight or obese, there is a high need for programs that promote healthy eating. Farm to School increases fruit and vegetable consumption as well as nutrition and health literacy among students. In addition and just as importantly, in a state ranked 50th for household income, Farm to School generates new revenue and jobs for small farmers in Mississippi.

One food service director I interview articulates a common theme: “We’ve gotten so far away from preparing fresh vegetables for school meals; everything is delivered already prepared. But I would definitely prefer to serve fresh fruits and vegetables.” While there is excitement about Farm to School, most school food service staff are overwhelmed by the logistics involved in finding farmers, writing contracts, preparing farm fresh foods, and other hurtles.

The Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Delta Project are working to address these hurdles in two distinct ways. First, student have developed legislative recommendations that formed the basis for two Farm to School bills that will be introduced in the Mississippi State Legislature this year. If enacted, these bills will show that the state is supportive and willing to invest in Farm to School programs in Mississippi. Second, this spring students are developing a step-by-step legal guide for school food service staff to start Farm to School programs in their communities.

As we continue our work in Mississippi, I will think about those girls often and how access to healthy foods and increased economic opportunities for their families and community could help them have a fair chance at reaching their full potential. Farm to School is a promising opportunity for Mississippians to invest in their communities, improve their health, and strengthen their relationships. It will be exciting to watch as Farm to School slowly but surely catches on in Mississippi.

Recent “Student Voices”
A Thursday at Pinal County Jail
Update from Florence…, Arizona
Dispatch from Tel Aviv

Many small vegetables farmers sell their crops out of roadside stands or the back of their trucks. Selling to a school would be a significant increase in revenue and provide a stable market, and thus enable them to scale up production.