Ideas for Human Rights-based Food Policy 



Transcription of Audience Notes, Just Food Forum, Harvard, March 28-29, 2015

The below notes were recorded by 40 attendees to a workshop on human rights-based food policy lead by Dr. Molly Anderson. The notes were kindly compiled and transcribed by attendee Valerie Spain.



Basics of a Human Rights-Based Food Policy


Define terms

·       What is FOOD? Define: healthy, nutritious, safe.

·       Define what food is: whole and unprocessed


Universal Rights

·       Dignity

·       Safe food

·       Transparency

·       All inclusive of culture, gender, race and class

·       Focus on health

·       Nurture food sovereignty

·       Equitable, simple and actionable

·       Access to nutrient-dense food

·       Based on social determinants of health

·       Food economy with focus on environment

·       Right to nourishment and culturally appropriate food esp in schools

·       Care for all not just the individual– individualistic vs. collective approach

·       Local and regional food policies that communicate/network–ground up not top down

·       Everyone working in food system deserves living wage, safe & healthy work environment

·       We don’t have the language-need a language to discuss a human rights based policy



·       Re money in politics

·       Access to info re what you’re buying and where the money goes

·       Facilitate information via multiple avenues re accessing food

·       Financial reforms to limit lobbying

·       Right to unbiased, transparent info about food system and food marketing

·       Big Ag’s responsibility for protecting human rights-based food values? Not above the law.

·       Economic analysis of food and health issues-state-focused development

·       Establish accountability-how?


National Policy Points

·       Redistribute food to those who need it

·       National Soil and Water Policy to focus on integrity of soil and water

·       Restructure farm subsidies

·       Farm Bill should be consistent with food policy (the latter is the umbrella)

·       Decouple SNAP/WIC from the Farm Bill

·       Funding for school food needs to come through Dept of Health not USDA

·       Review what foods are subsidized-policies that make healthy food cheaper

·       Spell out obligation of the government to sustain its citizens, e.g. SNAP, WIC, school meals etc.

·       Redirect subsidies to benefit smaller producers/distributors who focus on agro-ecology and seasonality

·       Policies based on fair trade

·       Caps on political donations

·       Constitutional right to food

·       Food as part of the ACA (create linkage)

·       Right to food as a normative framework that will encompass environment, jobs, wages, access etc.

·       Invest in infrastructure to produce, pack, transfer, store and deliver

·       Connect to larger system of sustainability and climate change

·       Value of food in human development-children’s health

·       Points of leverage-AMA and ACA

·       Food system should be environmentally sustainable and not contribute to climate change

·       Invest in the food system-it’s a great economic driver

·       Ratify human rights

·       Address food waste




·       National, universal free lunch and breakfast schools

·       Ratify UN conventions on dignity and children’s right

·       Oregon requires all farm to school food to be local

·       Food literacy in school for students and parents

·       Invest in educational infrastructure K through 12

·       Schools as a resource

·       Education for every citizen on these rights at early age

·       Food literacy: expand, teach in schools, transparent information sources.

·       Unite education, environment, health, food, law


Policies and ideas at the municipal, regional, state levels

·       Build community capacity to improve food systems

·       Participatory budgeting-investing in what we value-shift power

·       People’s tribunals-Mexico Manifesto

·       Community action agency

·       Develop food councils

·       Bring a “right to food” perspective to food policy councils

·       Building community capacity, shifting legal power to lower levels of decision

·       People’s Tribunal-to review output and actions

·       Food Councils into right to food-local and regional

·       Urban planning that includes urban agriculture


Other Policy Models

·       WHO statement about what we’re all entitled to re health

·       UN framework

·       Shift food system to values-based system

·       Define values of a food policy to include human rights and availability

·       Alternative models based on social needs