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

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.

Garden of Hope from Desta reff on Vimeo.

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.

 

Harvard FLPC Launches Guide for Mississippi Growers Selling to Local Institutions

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.

The Growers’ Guide focuses on helping Mississippi farmers and food producers start to sell to institutions, including how to discuss with the purchaser issues such as delivery, produce quality, food safety and liability insurance. For institutional purchasers interested in starting to buy locally grown food, our Purchasing Guide addresses these issues from the purchasers’ perspective (with a focus on K12 schools), including how to preference locally grown food in the bidding process while following federal and state procurement laws.

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.

Over the past year, Harvard law students from the Harvard Law School Mississippi Delta Project and the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic researched Farm to Institution programs across the country, interviewed stakeholders in Mississippi, and compiled useful resources to develop this Grower guide.

FLPC Submits Comments to FDA’s Proposed Food Safety Regulations

In 2011, Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which was the largest overhaul of the nation’s food safety laws in over seventy years. In January 2013, as directed by FSMA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released two proposed rules: one that addresses on-farm food safety practices, which have never before been regulated in this way (the Produce Safety Rule) and another that updates food safety practices in food manufacturing and processing facilities (the Preventive Controls Rule).

During the spring and summer, the FLPC conducted a legal and policy analysis of the two proposed rules, working with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) to support NSAC’s FSMA comments. Based on that analysis, the FLPC drafted comments on the proposed rules and submitted them to the FDA in mid-November.

Click here to read the comments on the Produce Safety Rule.
Click here to read the comments on the Preventive Controls Rule.

Next Week: Spotlight on Economic and Community Development in the Mississippi Delta

Next week, we are hosting two exciting events related to our work with the Harvard Mississippi Delta Project. We hope to see many of you there!

Spurring Community and Economic Development in the Delta Region
Wednesday, November 20th, 12-1pm, Hauser 104

The Mississippi Delta region of the United States has historically faced high rates of unemployment, poverty, and less access to higher education. Join us for an engaging discussion with Delta Regional Authority Chairman Christopher Masingill about his innovative work to promote economic and community development in the Delta region. President Obama appointed Chairman Masingill in 2010 as the Federal Co-Chairman of the Delta Regional Authority, a federal-state partnership whose mission is to help create jobs, build communities, and improve lives in the 252 counties and parishes in the eight states of the Delta region.

In his three years as Chairman, Masingill has implemented his innovative, bold ideas to place a greater emphasis on supporting small business and entrepreneurship ventures as well as investing in workforce training and education efforts. He’s leveraged more than $1.1 billion in private and other public sector investment; helping to create and retain 17,000 jobs within the region.

We look forward to seeing you there! Red Bones BBQ will be provided.

Hosted by the Mississippi Delta Project, HLS Democrats, and the Harvard Law and Entrepreneurship Project.

5th Annual University-Wide Harvard Delta Celebration
When: Wednesday, November 20, 2013, 6-8pm
Where: Harvard Law School, Caspersen South

Join us for this annual celebration of the work students and faculty from schools around Harvard University are doing to improve economic, health, and social conditions in the Mississippi Delta! Open to anyone from the Harvard community – from those who have worked in the region to those who are simply interested in learning more about it.  There will be ample time for mingling and networking.

Hors d’oeuvres, beer, wine, and soft drinks will be served.

Hosted by the Mississippi Delta Project thanks to the Winokur Family Foudation.

Summer 2014 Internship Opportunities at FLPC

The Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic has several slots available each summer for summer interns. The Food Law and Policy Clinic aims to increase access to healthy foods, prevent diet-related diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, and assist small and sustainable farmers and producers in breaking into new commercial food markets. The Food Law and Policy Clinic is part of Harvard Law School’s Legal Services Center, located in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston.

Project areas include assisting with the development and research needs of state and local food policy councils, assessing food safety rules to inform law and policy changes that would increase economic opportunities for small local producers, analyzing and recommending ways to increase access to healthy produce for low-income individuals and those living in “food deserts,” and identifying and breaking down legal and non-legal barriers inhibiting small producers from going beyond direct farm-to-consumer sales to sell at grocery stores, restaurants, and farm to institution programs. Our work is primarily focused at the state and local level, and we have project clients and partners based in different parts of the country.

Over the summer, students will have the opportunity to conduct legal and policy research to inform a range of clinic projects, including drafting fact sheets, in-depth reports, policy recommendations, comment letters, testimonies, presentations, and legislation or regulatory guidance.

How to Apply:
The dates for the 2014 summer program have not yet been finalized, but the program will likely run from Tuesday, May 27th through Friday, August 1st for a minimum of 40 hours per week. We have some flexibility with regard to start and end dates as long as summer interns make at least an eight-week commitment.

This internship is primarily for law students, but non-law students may apply, and we make a commitment to accept several non-law students (including undergraduate students as well as students in diverse graduate degree programs) each summer.

Interested candidates should send a resume and cover letter to flpc at law.harvard.edu.

More information:
For more information about the summer program, visit the Legal Services Center’s Summer Fellows Page (information is updated annually in late fall for the upcoming summer).

NOTE: This internship is unpaid, but it is SPIF-eligible for Harvard Law students. Interested candidates are urged to seek separate fellowship or grant funding, and program staff will help to support this in any way possible.

World Food Day 2013: Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition

Today is World Food Day. It is a day to remember that 842 million people go hungry across the globe, while 1.4 billion people across the world are overweight and obese. It is a day to imagine what a more sustainable, environmentally-friendly food system would look like. How can we, as a global community, create a sustainable food system that provides nutritious food for all?

In honor of World Food Day, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization has published a series of essays by various thought leaders on the World Food Day theme, “Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition.” FLPC Director, Emily Broad Leib, contributed an essay titled “The Dating Game: Demystifying Food Expiration Dates to Reduce Food Waste.” Other essayists include Mark Bittman (Food Journalist, Author, Op-Ed writer for the New York Times), Marion Nestle (Professor at New York University), Danielle Nierenberg (Food Tank), Jason Clay (World Wildlife Fund), among many others.

FLPC Director on Today Show Talking about Food Waste Report

FLPC Director Emily Broad Leib was recently interviewed by the Today Show’s Jeff Rossen about the FLPC and NRDC’s recent report on expiration dates and food waste. The segment first features a mother who throws away any food that is past the date on the label so that her family does not get sick. Broad Leib explains that expiration dates on food generally do not have anything to do with food safety, but rather are indicators of when the food will be at its peak quality as decided by the manufacturer. Check out the clip to learn more!