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Reflecting on my work with the Food Law and Policy Clinic

By Drake Carden, J.D. ’17

I have always taken an interest in food and how our food system operates, but had not done anything pertinent to the field outside of some light reading and Netflix documentary binge-watching. In the Spring of 2016, I had the pleasure of taking Emily Broad Leib’s Food Law class. This prompted my interest in enrolling in the clinic the next fall. I was placed on two projects: The Farm Bill Consortium and the Blueprint for the National Food Strategy.

The Farm Bill project was just taking off, and I specifically got to work on the Crop Insurance Title (Title XI) of the Farm Bill. My role consisted of written and interview-based research (which included a trip to rural Iowa!) to help formulate policy recommendations for the next Farm Bill with respect to Title XI. I worked closely with another teammate to coordinate our recommendations around commodities as well.  I also got the chance to travel to the Food Law Student Leadership Summit in Des Moines, Iowa, where I met a lot of students and faculty from the Consortium partner schools. The project is now moving in an exciting direction, where they will combine recommendations among all coordinated groups working on other Titles of the Farm Bill. I look forward to seeing the final product!

In a bit of contrast, the National Food Strategy project was nearing its completion. This project entailed a white paper written in conjunction with Vermont Law School, and I came on board to help with final edits to both the paper and the appendices of supporting national and international strategies. Just last week, I received a copy of the final paper. It was great to be able to see a finished product, and I was very proud of the work of the entire team!

The Food Law and Policy Clinic provided me a valuable lesson in project management and team-building. I enjoyed working with Emily, the fellows (shout out to Lee and Emma!), and my classmates. I also enjoyed focusing on policy-making, something that is rarer in black letter law classes. And I got to work with interesting, smart, kind and patient people. Mission accomplished: I cannot say enough good things about the clinic staff!

In new report, Food Law and Policy Clinic calls for federal action on food recovery

Via Harvard Law Today

‘Don’t Waste, Donate’ outlines actionable recommendations for policy changes

On March 9, the Food Law and Policy Clinic of Harvard Law School (FLPC) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), released “Don’t Waste, Donate: Enhancing Food Donations through Federal Policy” presenting actions the federal government should take to better align federal laws and policies with the goal of increasing the donation of safe surplus food. Such food recovery has the potential to address the coupled issues of food waste and food insecurity in the United States, reducing the 40% of food that is wasted by instead getting edible food onto the plates of those in need.

Dont-Waste-Donate_-March-2017_coverIn 2015, the federal government made reducing food waste a national priority through the announcement of a national goal of reducing food waste by 50 percent by 2030. In this report, FLPC and NRDC lay out a variety of policy opportunities that help the federal government meet this goal. The report identifies a number of federal laws and policies that strive to enhance food recovery, but fail to address the evolving needs of the food donation landscape or reduce unnecessary barriers to donation. For example, under current laws, if an entire manufacturing run of yogurt has a misprint with the incorrect net weight, the manufacturer would not benefit from the liability protections or tax incentives meant to encourage food donation unless every container were re-labeled with the correct number of ounces. These types of hurdles do nothing to protect consumers and everything to discourage food donations. Fortunately, simple and targeted changes to federal policy can reduce these senseless barriers.

“Don’t Waste, Donate” offers 16 actionable recommendations spanning five key areas of federal policy that can increase the amount of safe, wholesome food donated to those in need. The report recommends policy changes that would:

–Enhance liability protections for food donations;

–Improve federal tax incentives for food donations;

–Standardize and clarify expiration date labels;

–Better monitor and encourage food donation by federal agencies; and

–Modernize and clarify food safety guidance for food donations.

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Food Law and Policy Clinic & Natural Resources Defense Council Offer Federal Policy Recommendations to Increase Donation of Wholesome Food and Reduce the 40% of Food Wasted in the U.S.

Via Food Law and Policy Clinic

The Food Law and Policy Clinic of Harvard Law School (FLPC) and the Natural Resources Defense Council, released Don’t Waste, Donate: Enhancing Food Donations through Federal Policy presenting actions the federal government should take to better align federal laws and policies with the goal of increasing the donation of safe surplus food. Such food recovery has the potential to address the coupled issues of food waste and food insecurity in the United States, reducing the 40% of food that is wasted by instead getting edible food onto the plates of those in need.

In 2015, the federal government made reducing food waste a national priority through the announcement of a national goal of reducing food waste by 50 percent by 2030. In this report, FLPC and NRDC lay out a variety of policy opportunities that help the federal government meet this goal. The report identifies a number of federal laws and policies that strive to enhance food recovery, but fail to address the evolving needs of the food donation landscape or reduce unnecessary barriers to donation. For example, under current laws, if an entire manufacturing run of yogurt has a misprint with the incorrect net weight, the manufacturer would not benefit from the liability protections or tax incentives meant to encourage food donation unless every container were re-labeled with the correct number of ounces. These types of hurdles do nothing to protect consumers and everything to discourage food donations. Fortunately, simple and targeted changes to federal policy can reduce these senseless barriers.

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FLPC Releases “Moving Food Waste Forward: Policy Recommendations for Next Steps in Massachusetts”

Via Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation

Moving Food Waste Forward_CoverToday, the Food Law and Policy Clinic of Harvard Law School released Moving Food Waste Forward: Policy Recommendations for Next Steps in Massachusetts.

The report follows FLPC’s October 2016 report, Keeping Food Out of the Landfill: Policy Ideas for States and Localitiesa resource that provides detailed information on how states and local governments can contribute to local food waste reduction. Moving Food Waste Forward provides information and recommendations specific to Massachusetts stakeholders. In addition to information from other states, it also references ideas and recommendations that emerged from conversations with food waste experts and stakeholders from around the state of Massachusetts. The report covers tax incentives, liability protections, date labels, food safety, school food waste, the Massachusetts organic waste ban, and government support for food waste reduction.

Massachusetts stakeholders can use the information in this report in order to determine key priorities for next steps in policy change to further reduce the amount of food wasted in the state. The recommendations in this report could be implemented individually or in tandem, or could be combined together into comprehensive state food waste legislation.

Food Law & Policy Clinic sponsors Sugar Stands Accused event

Via Harvard Gazette

Author makes case for ‘uniquely toxic’ health effects in talk at HLS

Gary Taubes

Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
Gary Taubes signs copies of his book “The Case Against Sugar” following his talk for the Food Law and Policy Clinic. The acclaimed science writer hypothesizes that sugar “has deleterious effects on the human body that lead to obesity and diabetes, and that it should be considered a prime suspect [in the national dietary epidemic].”

Sugar was in the dock at Harvard Law School this week, accused of a prime role in the twin epidemics of obesity and diabetes sweeping the country.

Science journalist and author Gary Taubes ’77 made his case that sugar consumption — which has risen dramatically over the last century — drives metabolic dysfunction that makes people sick. The hour-long talk was sponsored by the Food Law and Policy Clinic and drawn from Taubes’ new book, “The Case Against Sugar.”

A reputation for “empty calories” — devoid of vitamins and nutrients but otherwise no different from other foods containing an equal number of calories — has allowed sugar to maintain a prominent place in the U.S. diet. Taubes is dubious. First, all calories are not equal because the body metabolizes different foods in different ways. More specifically, there may be something about eating too much sugar — in particular fructose, which is metabolized in the liver — that implicates it in metabolic disease.

“I’m making an argument that sugar is uniquely toxic,” said Taubes. “It has deleterious effects on the human body that lead to obesity and diabetes.”

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Hunger for change: Panelists focus on a fix for a broken food system

Via HLS News

At the same time the government urges Americans to eat healthy foods, it heavily subsidizes farmers who produce corn and other crops used in junk foods, and invests little in those who grow fruits and vegetables.

The result? A pound of fresh broccoli costs about $2 in any supermarket, while a calorie- and fat-filled cheeseburger is half that price in many fast-food restaurants.

This system that makes healthy food expensive and junk food cheap should be fixed, said a panel of experts who gathered at Harvard Law School on Nov. 30. The panel discussion — “Transforming Our Food System” — was sponsored by the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic in partnership with the Union of Concerned Scientists.

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5 Questions for Emily Broad Leib

Via Clinical Law ProfBlog

In the spirit of thanksgiving and the abundance of food most of us partook in last week, I thought this would be a great time to continue that theme and learn about the amazing Food Law and Policy Clinic that Emily Broad Leib supervises at Harvard.  Here’s a recent interview I had with Emily about the interesting work she is doing.  Enjoy!

  1. I recently saw that Fortune and Food & Wine Magazines named you as the number one most influential woman in food and drink for 2016. This seems like a pretty big deal!

For the past three years, Food & Wine and Fortune Magazine have put out a list of the most innovative women in food & drink. I was incredibly surprised and humbled to be included at the top of the list! This honor was mostly in recognition of the work of my clinic, the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC), on the issue of food waste. 62.5 million tons of food is wasted annually in the U.S., presenting a grave threat to our economy, health, and environment. While there are a variety of reasons for this pervasive waste, we’ve come to learn that much of this waste results from laws regulating the food system.

My work in date labels and the broader issue of food waste began from a clinic project we conducted on behalf of Daily Table, an organization that aims to increase access to healthy and affordable food by rescuing and selling surplus foods that would have otherwise gone to waste. To answer Daily Table’s legal questions, clinic students examined the laws in Massachusetts regarding date labels on food. When we zoomed out from Massachusetts to see what surrounding states were doing, we found a dizzying array of state laws, many of which restrict sale or donation of past-date foods. This is despite the fact that these dates are generally intended as indicators of quality, not safety, and for the most part food will still be safe and wholesome after that date has passed. Our work on date labels continues, and we’ve branched out to tackle other policies impacting food waste, such as food safety regulations, tax incentives for food donation, and liability protections for food donation.

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FLPC Releases Toolkit to Promote Food Waste Reduction

Via Food Law and Policy Clinic

food-waste-toolkit-coverToday the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) releases Keeping Food Out of the Landfill: Policy Ideas for States and Localities. This toolkit provides comprehensive information on eight different policy areas that states and localities can consider as they ramp up efforts to reduce food waste. There are great opportunities for food waste reduction at the federal level, but much can be done by states and localities, whose involvement in finding solutions to food waste and food recovery is vital. The toolkit includes recommendations for each of the policy areas, which can be utilized by legislators, advocates, food donors, and food recovery organizations to call for policy changes.

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Screening Toolkit for Not Really Expired is Now Available

Via Food Law and Policy Clinic

expired-screening-guide-coverThe Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC), in partnership with Racing Horse Productions, has released a screening toolkit for the short film EXPIRED? Food Waste in AmericaExpired? was released in February 2016 and explores how misleading date labels on food products contribute to food waste in America.

By now, Expired? has more than 16,800 views on Vimeo. But this impactful documentary has the power to engage and inform millions on the critical issue facing the United States. With that in mind, FLPC has released a screening toolkit to encourage food waste warriors at every level to reach even more people.

The screening toolkit contains helpful advice for preparing to screen the documentary for the public, discussion questions and talking points to get the conversation started, advice on how to take action to combat food waste and reform  expiration date labels, and additional resources from other leaders in the food waste reduction movement.

The U.S. alone wastes 160 billion pounds of food, or nearly 40% of food produced in this country, annually.

We hope the screening toolkit will encourage colleges and universities, high schools, libraries, food policy councils, health departments, advocates to hold screening of Expired? to help raise awareness on the need to reform our expiration date labeling system and reduce the amount of safe and wholesome food wasted in the U.S.

Download a copy of the Expired? Food Waste in America screening toolkit.

FLPC and NRDC Release New Fact Sheet on Food Donation

Via Food Law and Policy Clinic

Food donation provides a critical link between organizations with wholesome surplus foods and the 42 million Americans who are food-insecure today. Yet while there are strong federal and state protections, many food manufacturers, retailers, and restaurants cite fear of liability as one of the main barriers to donating food. The Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) recently created a fact sheet with recommendations to strengthen the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act.

The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act, passed by Congress in 1996, encourages donations through a broad range of protections for food donors, but many seem unaware of these protections. FLPC and NRDC first looked at the challenges impacting use of the Act in 2015’s Federal Enhanced Tax Deduction for Food Donation: A Legal Guide. This newly released fact sheet strengthens the suggestions made in the legal guide, explaining five ways the law should be updated and implemented to expand and strengthen the protections—and ensure they better align with the current food-recovery landscape:

  1. Assign an executive agency, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to oversee implementation and interpretation of the law.
  2. Extend protections to nonprofits that sell food at a discounted price, as well as their donors.
  3. Extend protections to donations made by food service establishments and retailers directly to individuals.
  4. Limit labeling requirement to comply with safety-related federal, state, and local laws, but not immaterial errors such as incorrect weight.
  5. Explicitly extend protections to past-dated food.

Read the “Recommendations to Strengthen the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act” fact sheet.

Harvard Law School partners with Food For Free

Via HLS News

Harvard Law waste reduction ‘exemplary’ during Commencement in 2016

Credit: Elizabeth Marble Caton

Kicking off the semester sustainably, Harvard Law School launched its first formal food donation program, in partnership with Food For Free, a local nonprofit that recovers wasted food from companies across Cambridge and Boston to redistribute to the area’s hungry. HLS will set aside excess prepackaged and retail foods from its dining halls for weekly pickup by Food For Free.

Food recovery and wasted food have long been a focus at HLS. In May 2016, HLS piloted its first food donation at a zero-waste Commencement lunch and was able to recover 900 meals that were distributed by Food For Free to local food pantries and shelters. This initiative was made possible through collaboration with Restaurant Associates (RA), HLS’s food services provider, HLS’s Sustainability Manager, and guidance from the HLS Food Law and Policy Clinic.

The Food Law and Policy Clinic is tackling food waste through work on date labeling policies, food donation policies and liabilities, and through education efforts like their recent Reduce Recover: Save Food for People conference in June.

Across campus, Harvard University Dining Services, which serves all 14 undergraduate dining halls and the Harvard Business School is also partnering with Food for Free to redistribute prepared and prepackaged foods. These efforts align with Harvard’s commitment to build and operate a healthier, more sustainable campus. As outlined in the Harvard Sustainability Plan, Harvard has a University-wide goal to reduce waste 50% per capita by 2020, and the Office for Sustainability is in the process of creating Sustainable and Healthful Food Standards, which will address food waste.

While the partnership between HLS and Food For Free will initially focus on the donation of just prepackaged and retail foods, they are looking forward to expanding donations to include all prepared foods that are safe to donate from the cafeteria and catering services on campus. Elizabeth Marble Caton, the Sustainability Manager at HLS, completed a pilot study that found that the wasted food generated through Restaurant Associates’ catered events on campus is roughly 40 percent or .59 pounds of food per attendee. “We are eager to recover this wasted food and redistribute it to those in our community that are in need,” said Marble Caton.

Eliminate Laws That Cause Healthy Food to Go to Waste

Via New York Times

Emily Broad LeibEmily Broad Leib is an assistant clinical law professor, director of the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, and deputy director of the Harvard Law School Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation. She is on Twitter.

Multiple policies could be implemented to address food waste and its impacts on the environment, food security, and our climate. In particular, we should eliminate laws that cause healthy food to go to waste, incentivize food donation and, when needed, enact penalties for senseless food waste.

Let’s start with consumer confusion, and the misguided laws regarding food date labels. Eighty four percent of consumers report they frequently throw food away after the sell-by date has passed, despite date labels being indicators of freshness, not safety. What’s more, in the absence of federal law on date labels, no two states have the same date label rules. Several states even restrict or ban the sale or donation of past-date foods. Federal legislation is needed to eliminate state laws that require past-date — but still safe — foods to be wasted, and to standardize date labels so they are clearer to consumers.

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Harvard Law School to Launch Pilot Food Donation Program with Food For Free in Effort to Reduce Food Waste and Enhance Food Recovery

Via Food Law and Policy Clinic

We are thrilled to announce that Harvard Law School will join the growing list of colleges and universities in Massachusetts and around the nation that donate excess foods to those in need, thanks to a new partnership with Cambridge-based Food For Free, a leading food recovery organization committed to rescuing food that might otherwise go to waste.

Starting September 7, 2016, wholesome, excess pre-packaged and retail foods from the Law School’s dining hall will be set aside for pick up each week from Food For Free, who will then distribute the food to various food pantries, shelters, day care centers, after-school programs, clinics, and drop-in centers in the Boston/Cambridge metro area.

Reducing food waste is a priority of the Food Law and Policy Clinic at Harvard Law School (FLPC), which is a national leader on providing research and cutting edge policy recommendations to reduce the waste of healthy, wholesome foods. This summer, FLPC co-hosted (with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, and Recycling Works in Massachusetts) a national conference on reducing food waste. The Reduce and Recover: Save Food for People conference convened more than 350 entrepreneurs, practitioners, policymakers, and enthusiasts from around the country to further a public dialogue on reaching the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s national food waste reduction goal of 50% by 2030. The event was held at Harvard Law School, and FLPC worked closely with Harvard Law School’s catering vendor, Restaurant Associates, as well as Sustainable America, an environmental nonprofit, to source rescued food so that almost all of the meals served at the conference—nearly 1,000 meals in total—were made from rescued food.

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FLPC, in partnership with the Food Recovery Project, Launches “Leftovers for Livestock: A Legal Guide for Using Excess Food as Animal Feed”

Via Food Law and Policy Clinic

Leftovers for Livestock_coverIn the United States, approximately 63 million tons of food is wasted every year. The natural resources used to produce that food, including water, fertilizer, and land, are also lost as a consequence of this alarming amount of waste. Furthermore, this wasted food typically ends up in landfills where, as it breaks down, it leads to significant emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas with 56 times the atmospheric warming power of carbon dioxide. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in its Food Recovery Hierarchy, prioritizes recovery opportunities for reducing food waste. According to the hierarchy, wholesome, edible food should be kept in the human food supply if possible. When that is not possible, it should be used as feed for animals. Given the significant environmental impact of food in landfills, many businesses, nonprofit organizations, and policymakers have seen a renewed interest in the use of food scraps as animal feed.

In Leftovers for Livestock: A Legal Guide for Using Excess Food as Animal Feed, the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Food Recovery Project at the University of Arkansas provide the first-ever catalogue of the different state regulations and requirements for feeding food scraps to animals. Leftovers for Livestock serves as an important resource for businesses with food scraps that could go to animals, livestock farmers, and other interested stakeholders.

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Food Law clinic sponsors conference focused on food waste, consumer education

Via HLS News

Reduce-and-Recover-Conference-Book-Cover-2016“$1.3 billion per year is spent on sending food to landfills.”

“Food waste makes up 21% of landfill waste in the United States”

“As much as 40 percent of food produced in America gets thrown out.”

“This month you’ll toss 24 pounds of food in the trash.”

Food recovery entrepreneurs, farmers, business persons, academics, government officials and many others converged at Harvard Law School for two days of learning, strategizing, and networking to address the growing issue of food waste.

The conference, “Reduce and Recover: Save Food for People,” held June 28 and 29, was sponsored by the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC), with support from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts.

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FLPC Director Testifies in Front of House Agriculture Committee

Via Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation

On Wednesday, May 26, 2016, the Director of the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, Emily Broad Leib, provided testimony at House Agriculture Committee Hearing on Food Waste from Field to Table. Members of the House Agriculture Committee heard from a variety of witnesses from industry, academia and the private sector who shared their efforts and initiatives in place to address the issue of food waste across the food chain.

View video of the hearing:

Read the full text of Emily Broad Leib’s testimony here.

Tommy Tobin, channeling a passion for food into service and scholarship

Via HLS News

042816_Tobin_088_354581_54294.op

Credit: Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

Growing up in the South, Tommy Tobin was part of a family that loved food.

“We liked to eat a lot,” said Tobin, who graduates in May with degrees from Harvard Law School and Harvard Kennedy School and a plan to build his career around food law and policy.

When a severe speech impediment left him struggling to be understood, food became a way for Tobin to connect with others. In high school he volunteered at a food bank and with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and watched his actions speak volumes.

“I didn’t need to speak, I could just do,” said Tobin. “And speaking through service became a theme for me.”

That commitment to service continued in college. At Stanford University he led the Stanford Project on Hunger to help reduce food waste in the dining halls and to support a nearby homeless shelter. After graduating, in 2010, he served as an intern with the White House’s Domestic Policy Council, working on reducing food waste around the country.

Tobin spent a year in Ireland doing graduate work in food business. Back in the United States, he applied to the Master in Public Policy program at HKS.

“Harvard’s a wonderful place to go to study food,” Tobin said. “People all over this University work on food issues.” Not least at the Law School, which has a clinic devoted to food law and policy. Before long, Tobin was cross-registered in HLS classes. Then he was applying. Then he was accepted.

“To actually get in was incredible.”

Tobin’s passion for food justice is matched by his fascination with language, which developed in part when his speech issues forced him to scour the thesaurus for word substitutes. “I became really interested in the phrasing of things,” he said.

His passions merged at Harvard, where he led the Harvard Food Law Society, joined the Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic, and held editing posts with both the Harvard Journal on Legislation and the Harvard Law and Policy Review.

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FLPC Releases Report on Consumer Perceptions of Food Date Labels

Via Food Law and Policy Clinic

Date Labels Survey Infographic-01

Today, at the Food Waste Summit hosted by the National Consumers League (NCL) and Keystone Policy Center, FLPC, NCL, and Johns Hopkins University Center for Livable Future released their findings from a national survey on consumer perception of date labels in the report Consumer Perceptions of Date Labels: National Survey.  The survey aimed to understand the extent to which consumers are confused about date labels, whether they throw away food after the date passes, perceptions about whether labels are federally regulated, and which labels most clearly communicate quality and safety, for purposes of standardizing the language Many people throw away food once the date passes because they think the date is an indicator of safety, but in fact for most foods the date is a manufacturer’s best guess as to how long the product will be at its peak quality. With only a few exceptions, food will remain wholesome and safe to eat long past its expiration date. The survey, and subsequent report, confirms widespread consumer confusion over food date labeling and how it likely contributes to to the 40% of food wasted in the U.S. each year.

Excerpt from the report:

“More than one third of the population (37%) says they always or usually throw away food because it is close to or past the date that appears on the package. 84% of consumers throw out food based on date labels at least occasionally.”

As efforts are underway in Congress to standardize date labels that indicate quality versus safety, the reports also provides useful data on which date labels consumers perceive most strongly as communicating quality and which most strongly communicate food safety.

Read Consumer Perceptions of Date Labels: National Survey in full.

FLPC, in partnership with the Food Recovery Project, Launches Updated Legal Guide on the Federal Enhanced Tax Deduction for Food Donations

Via Food Law and Policy Clinic

Tax Deduction for Food Donation coverThe Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, in partnership with the Food Recovery Project at the University of Arkansas, is pleased to published an updated version of “Federal Enhanced Tax Deduction for Food Donation: A Legal Guide,” to reflect the significant changes Congress made as part of the fiscal year 2016 omnibus budget that increase tax incentives for food donations and prevent food waste. This guide, originally published in November 2015, provides an important resource for food businesses and food recovery organizations to determine whether a food donor is eligible to receive the enhanced deduction.

An estimated 40 percent of food produced in the United States goes uneaten; at the same time, more than 14 percent of U.S. households are food insecure at some point during the year. Diverting a fraction of the wholesome food that currently goes to waste in this country could effectively end food insecurity for all Americans.

The extension and modification of the charitable deduction for contributions of food inventory included in the 2016 omnibus budget contains four significant changes: 1) a permanent extension of the enhanced tax deduction for food donations; 2) increases the deduction’s cap to 15% of the donor’s net income; 3) provides certain taxpayers a new optional formula for calculating the enhanced deduction; and 4) provides a formula for determining the fair market value (FMV) of food inventory. Each of these are reflected in the updated legal guide and explained in detail in FLPC’s previous blog post.

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EXPIRED in Washington, D.C.

Via Food Law and Policy Clinic

By Katie Sandson,  J.D. ’17

2016-04-05_Date_Labeling_002_s

Image provided by Senator Richard Blumenthal’s office

I have been a clinical student in the Food Law and Policy clinic since January 2016. As a continuing clinical student this semester, I have been working on FLPC’s food waste and food recovery initiatives, including work on the clinic’s expiration date project. As part of its efforts to standardize date labels at the federal level, FLPC has drawn attention to this problem through the creation and promotion of a short film, EXPIRED? Food Waste in America. The film tells the story of how a restrictive date labeling rule in Montana has required countless gallons of wholesome milk to be needlessly discarded once the milk reaches a labeled date that has no basis in safety or science. Montana’s rule is just one example of similarly restrictive rules in place throughout the country.

Throughout the semester, I have worked to promote the film and raise awareness about the connection between date labels and food waste. Two weeks ago, I traveled to Washington, D.C. with the clinic to attend a number of events related to our date labeling projects, including two screenings of the EXPIRED film in two very different settings. On Sunday, I helped give a presentation on date labels at the National Food Recovery Dialogue hosted by the Food Recovery Network. On Tuesday, FLPC’s director Emily Broad Leib and clinical fellow Christina Rice participated in a panel on date labels hosted by Senator Richard Blumenthal’s Office. Senator Blumenthal has announced plans to introduce legislation to standardize date labels at the federal level, an effort FLPC has supported throughout the process.

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The Importance of Food Policy Councils

A conversation with Emily Broad Leib of Harvard’s Food Law and Policy Clinic.

Via Lucky Peach

Emily Broad Leib is the co-founder and director of Harvard’s Food Law and Policy Clinic. The clinic pairs Harvard law students with nonprofits and government agencies working to increase access to healthy food and assist farmers engaged in sustainable agriculture.

Emily’s work began in Mississippi, which has one of the highest rates of poverty and obesity in the country. While a fellow in the Mississippi Delta, Emily worked on simplifying and clarifying laws that prevented small-scale farmers from selling their produce in farmers’ markets and helped start the Mississippi Food Policy Council. I spoke with her about food-policy councils, small farmers, food waste, and using food as a lens for understanding a community’s wider health problems.

Why do you focus on food?

When I was in law school, my main focus was in human rights. I didn’t know anything about food, really, before I went on my fellowship to Mississippi. There, I realized that there are two major social issues facing this country where food is closely linked. One is health. We have a huge issue with obesity and diet-related disease.

The other is environment and climate change. We know that food and agriculture both contribute to climate change and we will need to have really clear mitigation plans for how to address this.

How does a food-policy council address those issues?

A food-policy council is a group of individuals from diverse backgrounds—government officials, parents, doctors, teachers, and nonprofit organizations—coming together to try to figure out how they can make local food laws better for local food systems, health, or environment. There are actually more than two hundred in North America now.

Most of them are formed when people come together and say, Our government isn’t prioritizing this but we have a lot of ideas about what needs to change. If we come together as a coalition to make decisions and set our priorities, then we can have an impact. With theMississippi Food Policy Council, for example, we changed six laws in four years . We were able to work with a food-policy council and other nonprofits to get the sales tax eliminated at farmers’ markets. Most states have eliminated sales tax on groceries, but Mississippi still has that tax. At a grocery store, it’s easy to collect that sales tax, but for farmers it was a huge barrier to entry.

Beyond Mississippi, we’ve worked with the Navajo Nation, which has a host of food-related issues: diabetes, diet-related diseases, and minimal access to healthy food. As lawyers, the project is interesting because finding a solution requires navigating legal challenges related to Navajo sovereignty. There’s been a push for a Navajo farm-to-school program, for example, but it’s been held up by the different agencies—state governments, the federal government, and the Board of Indian Affairs—that run different schools. That makes it is hard to set one general policy.

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Law Professors Form Innovative Academic Organization To Promote Field Of Food Law And Policy

Via Food Law and Policy Clinic

Over the past decade, the field of Food Law and Policy has grown by leaps and bounds in law schools across the country. On a variety of metrics, the field is strong and growing, with more than 20 of the top 100 law schools offering courses in the field, and 30 clinics at 23 schools conducting related clinical work. But until now, Food Law and Policy has had no dedicated academic association to serve as a forum for individuals and institutions involved in its teaching and scholarship.

The Academy of Food Law and Policy (AFLP) is a newly-formed academic organization created to address this need. AFLP’s founding Board of Trustees includes Emily Broad Leib, Harvard Law School; Peter Barton Hutt, Covington and Burling (Adjunct Faculty, Harvard Law School); Neil Hamilton, Drake University Law School; Baylen Linnekin, Adjunct Faculty, George Mason Law School; Michael Roberts, UCLA School of Law; Susan Schneider, University of Arkansas School of Law; and Margaret Sova McCabe, University of New Hampshire School of Law. Founding institutional members include Harvard Law School, UCLA School of Law, University of Arkansas School of Law, and Drake Law School.

“As the first food law and policy clinic in the U.S., the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic has great interest in supporting other faculty and law schools in entering the field of food law and policy. I have worked with the other members of the Board of Trustees to establish the Academy of Food Law and Policy in order to provide a space for sharing ideas, knowledge and research, and nurturing social exchange among food law and policy colleagues. I look forward to working with the Board and members to build this into a vibrant organization that serves the needs of the growing community of food law and policy faculty and programs.” – Emily Broad Leib, Director of the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic and Founding Member of the Academy of Food Law and Policy.

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“The clinic broadened my horizons”

By Alexander Leone, J.D. ’16 

The Food Law and Policy Clinic is renowned for its groundbreaking work on a variety of issues, including a report it released with the Natural Resources Defense Council on the staggering amount of food we waste in the United States. As someone who has been interested in food since college—and in the countless ways it affects both body and mind and our natural world—the Clinic was on my radar even before I chose to attend Harvard Law School.

Alexander Leone, J.D. ’16

During my time in the Clinic, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work on two projects that mirrored perfectly my deepest food policy concerns: the ways in which our food system affects, or disserves, society’s most vulnerable; and how our food production practices affect, or destroy, the environment.

First, I worked with an attorney and fellow student to draft a letter to federal legislators on what standards should govern what millions of children, particularly low-income children, eat for their school meals. That letter ultimately became a Clinic policy brief, which “urges Congress to continue progress towards making nutritious, healthy, and delicious school meals available to all children.” Second, I analyzed novel ways in which the tort system could be used to deter the overuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture, a practice that has been linked to the antibiotic resistance crisis that threatens the future of modern medicine.

My projects not only developed my research and writing skills, but enlightened me as to different ways in which to research and write. Contacting and conference calling with a variety of different stakeholders in the legislative process taught me perspectives that I wouldn’t find in a case book. The need to use creativity and analogy to craft arguments at the frontiers of existing legal doctrine sharpened my intellect in a manner unlike a traditional law school class. And I have hope that the efforts of the Clinic will concretely affect food policy—perhaps, for example, through persuasion of lawmakers who will determine what millions of children will be eating during school.

The Clinic also broadened my horizons at Harvard Law School: It led directly to my participation as president of the Harvard Food Law Society. The Clinic sharpened my knowledge of American food law and policy and prepared me to lead an organization that, primarily through educational talks and its annual conference, seeks to advance food justice in our community and society.

Film as Advocacy in the Food Law and Policy Clinic

By Katherine Sandson, J.D. ’17

When I enrolled in the Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) during the January term, I was assigned to work on the clinic’s food waste and food recovery projects. These projects included a short film, entitled Expired? Food Waste in America, that the clinic was producing in conjunction with Racing Horse Productions. The film explores the effects of an administrative rule in Montana that prevents milk from being sold after its labeled date, which must be no more than twelve days following pasteurization, even though milk is safe for consumption far longer. FLPC produced the film to provide one example of how the lack of uniform, federal standards for date labeling in the U.S. contributes to the 160 billion pounds of food waste generated by Americans each year.

By the time I joined the clinic, the film itself was nearly complete. While past clinical students had worked on producing the script, conducting interviews, and editing the film, I spent time preparing for the film’s release. This work included drafting and editing op-eds to accompany the short film in online news outlets, providing feedback on the content of the film’s website, and drafting guidance materials to help people run screenings of the film. During the spring semester, now that the film has been released, I have continued to help brainstorm and execute additional strategies for getting the film out to a broader audience.

Prior to joining FLPC, I would not have categorized most of this work as legal in nature. Through my work on this film, however, I have come to appreciate the value of media advocacy as a complement to legislative or policy advocacy. The release of this film was timed to coincide with the announcement that a bill that would standardize date labeling at the federal level will soon be introduced in the Senate. This bill has the potential to significantly reduce food waste, but it will require support to get passed, and mediums like film can help create that support. Moreover, legislation, once in effect, does not operate in a vacuum. Because food—everything from how we shop for food to how we store and dispose of it—is so cultural and habitual, education and awareness of what date labels mean and how they relate to food safety will likely be important to maximizing the effectiveness of any date labeling legislation that is passed.

Over the past few months, I have learned that non-legal tools like film can play an important role in supporting legislative and policy efforts by generating conversation and awareness. The Expired film, for example, tells one story, accompanied by vivid images, that illustrates a larger problem in only a few minutes. As a result, the clinic sees it as an important tool for raising public awareness about the connection between date labeling and food waste, in advance of the upcoming federal legislation and related efforts at the state or local levels.

Through my work to promote this film, I have gained a detailed understanding of the current legal framework for regulating date labels, and of the framework FLPC would like to see put in place. Perhaps more importantly, I have also learned to break down these legal frameworks for non-legal audiences. I am grateful for the opportunity to work on a project that has expanded my ideas about what legal skills and legal advocacy look like.

Food Law and Policy Clinic releases short film on food waste in America

Via HLS News

Every year, 40% of the food produced in the United States goes uneaten, leading to 160 billion pounds of wasted food.

The Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC), in partnership with Racing Horse Productions, has released a short film, “EXPIRED? Food Waste in America,” that explores how the variety of date labels on food products contributes to food waste in America.

The film profiles the effects of a Montana state law that requires all milk to be labeled with a sell-by date no later than twelve days after pasteurization. After the sell-by date passes, the milk may not be sold or donated. As a result of the law, thousands of gallons of milk have been thrown away and milk prices in the state have risen.

As the film shows, however, milk remains safe to drink beyond twelve days.  In most states milk is dated up to 21 or even 28 days after pasteurization, but as long as the milk has been pasteurized, even spoiled milk is unlikely to make people sick.

The film highlights the Montana law as an extreme example of a national problem.

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Is that milk past its ‘sell by’ date? Drink it anyway.

Via Los Angeles Times

An Op Ed by Emily Broad Leib,
Assistant Clinical Professor of Law, Food Law and Policy Clinic

1

My father used to keep food in the refrigerator for days, even weeks after the “best by” date, so long as it looked and smelled OK. My mom, by contrast, went out to buy a new carton of milk as soon as the date passed. Often there would be two containers of milk in our refrigerator: the half-empty one my dad was committed to finishing, and the new one my mom had purchased, out of fear that she might get sick if she drank my dad’s past-date milk.

Scenes such as this play out in households across the country. One person dutifully follows best-by, sell-by and use-by date labels on packaged and processed food while another jeers at them. According to one study, more than 90% of consumers report throwing away past-date food because of food safety fears. But the truth is that these dates are not intended to communicate safety information. Instead, they signal a manufacturer’s estimate of how long food will taste its best. Sometimes the dates are set based on consumer taste tests, but often they’re just a guess.

In 2013, the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Natural Resources Defense Council published a report, “The Dating Game,” that tied food waste to date labels, and revealed that the dates are not federally regulated and do not indicate food safety. The Food and Drug Administration, which has the power to regulate date labels, has chosen not to, precisely because they are not related to safety. Food scientists say that not a single food safety outbreak in the U.S. has been traced to a food being consumed past date. (What are outbreaks traced to? Generally, to pathogens that may have contaminated the food during processing, or to “temperature abuse” such as leaving raw chicken in a hot car, or to air exposure that encourages mold. These are not problems that date labels currently address.)

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Food Sovereignty in Navajo Nation

Via Food Law and Policy Clinic
By Jevhon Rivers, J.D. ’17

20160114_134252I spent two weeks in the Navajo Nation as a Continuing Clinical student for the Food Law and Policy Clinic. I had been working on food sovereignty research for a partner in the area during the Fall, but could not comprehend the true depth of the challenges facing the Navajo Nation nor the passion and knowledge of its food advocates until I had the opportunity to visit it myself. During my time there, I was able to see advocates and government representatives working together to solve the complex food issues on the Navajo Nation, while also getting to see the work organizations are already doing, specifically to address chronic illness and increase food access.

In Window Rock, Arizona, the seat of government for the Navajo Nation Council, I had the opportunity to join a coalition of diverse advocates working toward food sovereignty. Indeed, the Nation seems to be on the precipice of real reform. I attended a committee meeting and a work session of the Health, Education and Human Services Committee (HEHSC) where representatives used the Good Laws, Good Food toolkit, created by FLPC and partners, as a jumping off point. Through these sessions and later meetings with other food advocates and coalition partners, I met key officials that lent insight into the work being done in education, food assistance, and agriculture among others.

During my stay, I was hosted by a partner organization, Community Outreach Patient Empowerment (COPE), a sister organization of Partners in Health (PIH) that works with the Navajo Nation to address chronic illness through education and outreach. Sonlatsa Jim-Martin, the COPE REACH Coalition Coordinator, invited me to participate in a wealth of events and experiences throughout my stay. I was able to get involved in a number of different projects with which COPE is affiliated. I spent one weekend with the Navajo Community Health Outreach (NCHO) Youth Leadership, working with young leaders who serve as public health champions in their communities. Not only did I have the privilege of learning about the role of food in Navajo traditions and culture but I got to witness the variety of public health projects they were creating, such as a campaign to share traditional wisdom on food in local chapter houses.

Later in my stay, I went with the COPE team to a clinic on the opposite end of the reservation to check in with the FVRx program at Monument Valley Clinic. FVRx, or the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program, was developed by Wholesome Wave, and enables community healthcare workers to provide health and nutrition counseling coupled with prescriptions for fruits and vegetables that can be redeemed at local stores. Along with store owners and community members, the COPE team planned not only how they would recruit eligible mothers and children, but how they could adjust the education component and vendor partners to best serve their patients. On the way, we stopped at several food vendors as part of COPE’s Healthy Stores Initiative, to give them equipment to facilitate the sale of produce and provide them strategies to make the most of selling healthy food.

My time in the Navajo Nation not only provided an enriching complement to the research I had completed in the Fall, but gave me greater insight into the inspiring power of food to bring people together in inspiring and unexpected ways.

Food Law Clinic urges Congress to continue progress towards making nutritious meals available to all children

Via HLS News

FLPC_Child-Nutrition-Reauthorization-Policy-Brief-Jan-2016As Congress prepares to consider the 2016 child nutrition act, the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic released a policy brief recommending changes to the act to support healthy school meals.

The centerpiece of federal child nutrition policy, the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act (CNR), is up for review every five years and establishes the funding and policy for key programs, including the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Summer Food Service Program, and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, serving 30 million children.

Harvard Law’s Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) offers five specific recommendations for how the next CNR can strengthen key provisions for child nutrition:

  • Increase participation in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs;
  • Preserve the advances in nutrition standards mandated in the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HFFKA) and subsequent regulations;
  • Increase reimbursement rates for meals;
  • Expand funding for farm-to-school programs; and
  • Provide grants for school kitchen equipment, infrastructure, and staff training programs

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FLPC Director Speaks about Food Labels on 99% Invisible Podcast

Via Food Law and Policy Clinic

Emily Broad Leib, director of the Food Law and Policy Clinic, can be heard on the January 12, 2016 episode of the radio show, 99% Invisible.

The episode, titled “Best Enjoyed By,” examines the related issues of expiration labels for food products and the increase of food waste nationally, and the history of food labeling. The episode also refers to 2013’s “The Dating Game: How Confusing Date Labels Lead to Food Waste in America,” a report on date labels by the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Emily Broad Leib is joined on the show by Doug Rauch, founder of The Daily Table.

FLPC releases Child Nutrition Reauthorization Policy Brief, urges Congress to continue progress towards making nutritious, healthy, and delicious school meals available to all children

Via Food Law and Policy Clinic

CNR Policy BriefThe Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act (CNR) is the centerpiece of federal child nutrition policy. Following a fall legislative session in which progress on the CNR repeatedly stalled, Senate Agriculture Committee leaders promise that it will be a top priority as Congress returns this week. The CNR takes place every five years and establishes the funding and policy for key programs, including the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Summer Food Service Program, and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. The last CNR, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA), expired on September 30, 2015. Through a continuing resolution, the Act continued in its current form and is now up for reauthorization. The HHFKA marked a breakthrough in improving the nutritional quality of federally-supported child nutrition programs; among other things, it updated school meal nutrition standards for the first time in over 15 years.

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