Blog / Impact

JBF Impact News: A Look Ahead at Good Food in 2017

Katherine Miller

January 25, 2017


The latest dispatch from JBF’s senior director of food policy advocacy Katherine Miller explores what’s on deck for our Impact Programs this year and offers tips for chefs and eaters alike to engage in the fight for good food.

Striving for Greater Impact in Policy and Practice

One thing we learned from last year’s tumultuous election cycle is that every voice matters! As we settle into the new year and the policy fights ahead, we know that you are all interested in how to do more in your community and get more involved in the issues you care about.

Since April 2016, the Impact team at the James Beard Foundation has been developing our strategy for contributing to the larger good food movement. Some of our signature programs, including our annual conference (now known as the JBF Food Summit), which has brought community leaders together since 2010; and our Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change, which was first piloted in 2012; and our annual Leadership Awards which recognizes visionaries creating more healthful and sustainable food world, have been complemented by our new Industry Summits, Culinary Labs, and campaigns such as the Blended Burger Project.

What can you expect from us in 2017?

  • More learning and more listening. In January, we launched our Industry Summit series for the year with a discussion with women in Atlanta’s culinary community and a conversation in New York with leading LGBTQ chefs and restaurateurs. This series informs our overall strategy and helps us build programs and offerings to support our culinary community.
  • Helping chefs find their voices. We're looking at big policy debates in 2017— including a new Farm Bill. Chefs, farmers, and food activists from every sector will be needed to meet with members of Congress and their staff to discuss possible changes to essential programs. This year our Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change will take place in Georgia, New York, and Vermont. Applications for the Boot Camps are taken on an ongoing basis by completing our “Expression of Interest” survey here. Also look for local advocacy trainings in Nashville, Chicago and other cities throughout the year. 
  • Expanding culinary training. Look for our Culinary Lab series, both online and in cities near you, throughout 2017. These hands-on workshops include activities on whole-animal butchery, finding and preparing more sustainable seafood, and how to tackle food waste in your kitchen. 

We also encourage you to follow us at @JBFChefAction and @BeardFoundation for policy updates, interesting articles, and opportunities to take action and get involved. You can also email us at

Next Up in Congress

We work in partnership with many of the leading organizations fighting for good food policies in Congress, including Food Policy Action, Wholesome Wave, Share Our Strength, Union for Concerned Scientists, Environmental Working Group, and more. Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll all be paying close attention to the confirmation hearings of former Governor Sonny Perdue (the proposed secretary of agriculture) and Scott Pruitt (proposed administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency). Both men, if confirmed, will lead policy efforts related to the Farm Bill in close coordination with the House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over agriculture, the environment, and natural resources.

Water and food quality will be a big concern, but good food advocates should also stay tuned to the debate over SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Access Program). Advocates on both sides are already sparring over the rules and regulations governing the program, especially after the USDA report came out in November chronicling the spending habits of SNAP recipients as compared to other shoppers.

This conversation will be long, complicated, and confusing. In addition to following us, we encourage you to follow non-partisan news sources such as @CivilEats and @Politico for regular updates and in-depth reporting.

What You Can Do

Our friends at the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA) wrote this post: 13 Things You Can Do to Keep Up the Good Food Fight in 2017. While focused on the California legislature, the basic points—broaden your lens, pressure leaders, act local (but think big), stay engaged, and don't sit on the sidelines—are proven ways to get (and stay) productively involved in the debates and conversations moving forward.


Learn more about the JBF Impact Programs.

Katherine Miller is JBF’s senior director of food policy advocacy. Find her on Twitter.