Good morning. On the menu today, in no particular order:

Sanders and Clinton on farm policy. Nathanael Johnson of Grist provides a brief but excellent analysis of the rural communities platforms provided by presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. The candidates have much in common, but also differ in some important ways. Johnson frames his analysis as “unfairness theory versus underinvestment theory” – an incredibly interesting way to view the policy ideas each candidate offers.

While the election is still many months away, the UC Food Observer hopes to learn much more about each candidate’s platform on food and agriculture. Wouldn’t it be great to have a debate focused solely on that? Last October, Mark Bittman wrote an eloquent piece about the need to hear more about food and agriculture policy from candidates; the post appeared on the Union of Concerned Scientists website. (Bittman is a fellow in UCSUSA’s food and environment program).

In his post, Bittman suggested we need to ask more questions about food and ag policy. He wrote this:


“So as we push our candidates to take a stand on gun control and foreign relations and economic growth, there’s something else we need to press them on: their plans to ensure access to affordable, healthy, safe food for Americans everywhere.”


Hunger report provides 20 policy recommendations. Freedom from Hunger: An Achievable Goal for the United States, published by the bipartisan National Commission on Hunger, has been released. The commission is charged with providing “… policy recommendations to Congress and the USDA Secretary to more effectively use existing programs and funds of the Department of Agriculture to combat domestic hunger and food insecurity.”

The commission assessed hunger in populations of “specific concern” (seniors, those with disabilities, single-parent families with young children, veterans and active duty military, American Indians, immigrants, and those with high incarceration rates). The group traveled across the nation, held public hearings and visited government, nonprofit and other community-based programs focusing on hunger alleviation. In addition, they heard testimony from dozens of “invited experts” representing government, industry, higher education and nonprofits, in addition to more than 100 members of the American public.

The result? An incredibly valuable report that most of us should read for any number of reasons, including the clear information it provides about the issue of hunger in America (causes, impacts, solutions). The report also provides important demographic information about impacted populations, as well as incredibly valuable information about how the nation is addressing hunger through a range of federal nutrition assistance programs, community-based programs and public-private partnerships.

The commission provides 20 specific recommendations. Ten recommendations relate to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP. The fourth recommendation relating to SNAP has drawn much attention in the last day. It reads:

“Exclude a carefully defined class of sugar-sweetened beverages from the list of allowable purchases with SNAP benefits.”

The following rationale is provided:

“SNAP benefits should help families meet their nutritional needs, not contribute to negative health outcomes through poor nutrition choices. Recent scientific evidence suggests that the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, which are unhealthy, can have profound and serious negative effects on health, such as obesity and diabetes, especially among children.144-148 Reducing the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages also follows the guidelines of leading health agencies such as the World Health Organization, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Institute of Medicine, and the Surgeon General of the United States. The technology to exclude certain items already exists at the participating retail store level. In light of the research and the recommendations of numerous health agencies, sugar-sweetened beverages should be added to the list of items excluded from the allowable purchase with SNAP.”

One suggested action?

“Congress should enact legislation to restrict the purchase of a carefully defined list of sugar-sweetened beverages developed in consultation with major health and nutrition organizations (e.g., the organizations mentioned above), nutritionists, and scientific experts.”

Jenny Hopkinson writes about the report and the American Beverage Association’s response for Politico.

Adlai Stevenson once said, “A hungry man is not a free man.” We agree. To learn more about some individuals and organizations helping to alleviate hunger, read our Q&A with Robert Egger of the L.A. Kitchen; our Q&A with gleaning organization Food Forward; and our Q&A with Feeding America Child Hunger Corps fellow Caroline Cahill.

It’s not your dad’s (or granddad’s) farm job. One of the neatest pieces we read today: millennials look to high-tech farms for careers…in urban settings. Whatever you call it – “indoor farming”, “future farming” or “Ag 3.0″ – it’s a growing sector and it’s changing things up. Steve Holt for Civil Eats.

Have a great day.