by Marion Nestle
Jul 5 2011

Resources for advocacy: school food and ag policy

My San Francisco Chronicle column on food advocacy includes a severely edited list of organizations working on food issues, particularly school food and the farm bill.   I thought the entire list might be useful.

Note that information about how to contact government officials appears at the end.

I consider this list preliminary.  Please use the Comments to add to it.  And pass it along, use, and enjoy!

Organization Advocacy resources
Edible Communities ~60 Edible magazines throughout U.S.  Useful for identifying local food resources
Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) Advocacy and lobbying for a broad range of food and nutrition issues, school food among them.
Slow Food USA Promotes policies favoring slow, as opposed to fast, food
Strategic Alliance for Healthy Food and Activity Environments Promotes policies to improve corporate and government practices that affect food and activity environments in California
Community Food Security Coalition More than 300 organizations working to build sustainable, self-reliant, local and regional food systems, and promote a healthier farm bill.
School Food
Background legislation 



The Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act of 2010 

Proposed nutrition standards for school meals

USDA programs Team Nutrition: supports child nutrition programs through training 

Chefs Move to Schools: partners chefs with schools

Public Health Advocacy Institute Promotes use of the legal system to improve school food
National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity (NANA) Lobbies for federal policies and programs to improve school food and activity environments (a project of CSPI)
Public Health Law & Policy  


Offers a policy package with goals and actions for school wellness policies, and a fact sheet on the schools section of its website
National Farm to School Network Promotes connecting farm produce to schools
California ProjectLEAN (Leaders Encouraging Activity and Nutrition) Helps develop school wellness policies and healthier food and activity environments (a joint project of the California Department of Public Health and the Public Health Institute)
CANFIT (Communities, Adolescents, Nutrition, Fitness) Community-based initiatives to improve diet and fitness among low-income, minority adolescents
Center For Ecoliteracy Rethinking School Lunch Guide shows how to incorporate ecological understanding into school meals
School Food Focus Focus: Food Options for Children in Urban Areas
One Tray More direct connection between local farms and school meal programs
Better School Food Community-based connection of school food to health
Cook For America Culinary training to support healthy school lunches cooked from scratch
The Lunch Box Online toolkit with information about healthy lunch options
Let’s Move Salad Bars to School Supports salad bars in schools
Project Lunch Improves Marin County school lunch program
Nourish Life Food and sustainability in schools and communities
PEACHSF How-to guides and resources
Farm Bill
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy Public policies for food and farming 


Food and Water Watch Bring agricultural policy in line with health and environmental policy
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Promotes healthier and more sustainable systems for small- and medium-size farms, farming opportunities, fair competition
Organic Trade Association (OTA) Supports organic food production, large and small
Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) Protect and expand food assistance programs 


Environmental Working Group Exposes inequities in food subsidies; provides data on who gets what
PolicyLink Working to get Healthy Food Financing Initiative into the Farm Bill


How to contact federal and state government officials

The White House:

Members of Congress

State officials:

Local media:


  • Anthro

    Thank you! I had no idea so many groups were working to improve school food. I hope they are coordinated in some way and not working at cross-purposes.

    I’m going to study this and try to figure out where I can put my energy to try to make a difference. One needs to do more than type comments!

  • Emma

    Good list! Thanks for that.

    I’d add Montery Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program:

    Not quite the same as the good folks you’ve listed, but information to help folks be informed consumers of seafood– and knowledge is power. They take both health and the environment into account when rating itemsane even have a free phone app so you can check when you’re at the grocery store or eating out.

  • Disclaimer: I work for a local a health department.

    If you have a local Board of Health (we don’t here) attending and participating in their meetings or serving on the board is good way to become active locally.

    I believe supporting your local HD which usually provides a broad array of services from WIC, nutrition counseling, food inspection, and other environmental and public health areas helps to send a message from the bottom up.

    Of course the suggestions Marion made are great also.

  • Great list. If employees in the food industry or government agencies are retaliated against for unveiling problems related to school food, Farm Bill policy, etc. — the Government Accountability Project’s Food Integrity Campaign works to protect truth-tellers and their effort to bring transparency to the food system.

  • Thank you, Marion, for including School Food FOCUS on this great list alongside so many other excellent efforts.

    We’re a national collaborative that leverages the procurement power and knowledge of some of the largest school districts in the nation — to make school meals more healthful, regionally sourced, and sustainably produced.

    Just three years old as an organization, we now count 33 large school districts among our members. For more about School Food FOCUS and what we do, please check out this recap of our annual conference in early June:

    @Anthro: We do indeed coordinate our efforts whenever possible. Many of us are in frequent contact with one another to share information and collaborate where our work is complementary.

    @Jim Schmidt: I agree! Several of the FOCUS school districts have chosen health departments as their district partners, who help them to lay groundwork for procurement change and spread information about that change to the public.

  • An important list!! To add to it I suggest…Two Angry Moms ( is a award winning documentary, and associated network of parents and other school food advocates ( working to improve school food and the school food environment throughout the United States.

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you! As someone who is just starting to get involved, I find this list a fantastic jumping off point. I read so many things about what’s wrong with the food supply in the country, but I haven’t seen such a concise and any to navigate list of places to start to do something about it.

  • openeyes

    Couple additional ag policy advocates not to be overlooked:

  • I am managing editor of an on-line magazine I would like to offer you a full page ad for free.

    Our fourth magazine Issue II centers on FOOD and global issues such as Monsanto/Genetic Engineering, Irradiation, Hunger/ Effects of Dry Season/War, Food Safety/Allergies/Wheat-antigens, Labeling/Truth-in-labeling, Free Trade, Water and Vegetarianism/Organics, Farming/Bees, and Seed banks.

    Part I and Part II of can be viewed at:

    Rhonda Varsane
    Managing Editor
    “Good News – Let’s Build It Together”

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  • Rose

    Just ran across this post and think it’s great! Then as I read the comments, I gagged in laughter.

    openeyes mentions several ‘ag policy advocates’… two of the three are astroturf organizations fully funded by the food and beverage industry.

    HAH! Some advocates. I guess industry needs advocates too… they just hide their real interests behind fake ‘consumer-oriented’ organizations.

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