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JBF Impact News: Farm Bill Summit and the 2017 Beard Awards

Katherine Miller

May 24, 2017

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In her latest dispatch, JBF senior director of food policy advocacy Katherine Miller recaps new developments in the federal food policy space, and shares updates on chefs taking a stand on the next farm bill and child nutrition. 

The past month has been a busy time in the area of food policy. Georgia governor Sonny Perdue was confirmed as the new secretary of agriculture and began his tenure overseeing America’s growing and feeding programs. The Trump Administration signaled that there could be up to a 21-percent cut to overall USDA spending. This would affect a variety of initiatives, and could possibly lead to the elimination of McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program, a bipartisan aid enterprise that helps to feed at-risk kids in more than 40 countries. And while these cuts are being considered, American voters signaled their strong support for expanding the current Supplemental Nutrition Access Program benefits to help more families, according to a new poll released by the University of Maryland.

What does all this activity add up to? At this point, mostly more fuel on the fire of uncertainty in this troubling time. But what good food advocates do know is that the next 18 months are going to be busy, and that every voice is important in these debates. Fortunately, to that end, plenty of chef-led activity is happening all over the country:

In Arizona, chef Charleen Badman convened a group of two dozen chefs together to learn how to get more involved in efforts to strengthen child nutrition programs in their state. By the end of their day together the chefs identified concrete ways to work with their local and state legislatures to try to expand school garden programs.

In Washington, D.C., a dozen James Beard nominees, winners, and Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change alums joined forces in support of Food Policy Action's Farm Bill Summit including Abra Berens, Amy Brandwein, Tiffany Derry, Scott Drewno, Ben Hall, Rock Harper, Mo L'Esperance, JBF Award winner Andrea Reusing, Keith Rhodes, JBF Award winner Jonathon Sawyer, and Lee Anne Wong. Those chefs, along with a dozen more of their peers, heard from various experts on the Farm Bill as well as from JBF Award winners Andrew Zimmern, Tom Collichio, and José Andrés. The chefs also met with their members of Congress to communicate the need for a bill that preserves local food, ensures quality nutrition, and protects our drinking water.

This type of chef-led activism will help to keep these issues front and center, not only on the Hill, but also in state legislatures across the country. Expect to see more activities focused on reducing food waste and protecting child nutrition and school feeding programs in the coming months! 

After all this hard work, it was great to see so many Boot Camp alums at the annual James Beard Awards in Chicago. We hosted a breakfast the day of the Awards and were joined by JBF Award winner Maria Hines, Joshua Kulp, Joy Crump, and so many others. That night, a number of Boot Camp alums were nominated, and pioneering chef-advocate Nora Pouillon was honored with the Lifetime Achievement award.

Perhaps the biggest thrill came from seeing Michel Nischan—co-founder of the Chef Action Network and the Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change—inducted into JBF’s Who’s Who of Food and Beverage. Nischan is also the founder of Wholesome Wave and a tireless advocate for a fair and equitable food system. Congratulations to all the nominees and winners.

A final note: stay tuned for a big announcement from the Beard Foundation on June 5. You’ve heard a lot about sustainable seafood lately—including the national expansion of Dock to Dish for chefs—and we’re excited to take a bigger role in helping chefs and restaurants source sustainably. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more information.

Learn more about the JBF Impact Programs.

 

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Katherine Miller is senior director, food policy advocacy at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Twitter.