January 27, 2012
At its January meeting in Washington, DC, the U.S. Conference of Mayors established a food policy task force to be headed up by Mayor Tom Menino of Boston and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore.
The group will spend the next six months collecting information and drafting a report for consideration at the Conference of Mayors’ June 2012 meeting in Orlando, FL. The food policy task force will collect information on innovative food programs across the country, highlight best practices, and address how farm bill policies could positively impact urban food environments.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan met with the group and explained how various USDA programs can support healthy food enterprises and improved nutrition and can kick-start urban agriculture programs. City governments are on the front line of America’s obesity epidemic and Mayors know firsthand the challenges that inadequate access to food pose for their citizens.
NSAC strongly advocates bolstering local and regional food systems to stimulate economic development and address the needs of urban and rural communities alike. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) have introduced a bill for local and regional food system development, the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act. The proposed Healthy Food Financing Initiative is also a component of a comprehensive approach to address the problem of communities lacking access to healthy foods.