Healthy Food in Your Community: A Toolkit for Policy Change

Why is unhealthy food so much easier to buy than fruits and vegetables? Why do some neighborhoods lack stores selling affordable fresh food? Healthy Food in Your Community, a publication of the Union of Concerned Scientists, offers tools that will help communities participate in the policy decisions that shape access to healthy food.

The toolkit addresses the world of food policy. The materials focus on key issues and policies affecting food access. Food and information about food is encountered in a wide range of settings, and food policy affects healthy food access in all of them:

  • At the grocery store. Policies ranging from federal legislation to local zoning ordinances can shape affordability, accessibility, and financial viability.
  • On the label. Food labels can be a source of clear, science-based information, or a vehicle for marketing tactics, depending on policy decisions.
  • In schools. Food served in school has a powerful impact on children's health, and policies to improve the nutritional quality of school meals are currently sparking lively debate.
  • From the farm. The $100 billion federal Farm Bill affects healthy food access in many ways, with provisions that influence what farmers grow, what it costs, and how and where it is sold.

Everyone is a stakeholder in our food system, and changing that system for the better requires building strong partnerships with a broad range of those stakeholders. In order to do this, it's important to understand who already is working on food issues in the community, and whose voices are being heard (or excluded) in policy discussions.  The toolkit discusses how people can build relationships within communities to take effective action, and it suggests practical tips and resources for getting involved.

Obtain the UCS food policy toolkit at: ucsusa.org/foodtoolkit

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