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Community Food Security Coalition Policy Update
Welcome to CFSC’s bi-monthly
Federal policy e-newsletter

In This Issue...

In Every Issue...


Midterm Elections: Implications for Community Food Security

Bread-and-butter issues like jobs, housing, and making ends meet were at the top of voters’ minds during the midterm elections last week. So what do the election results mean for community food security and the next Farm Bill? Here is a brief overview of changes in—and outstanding questions about—the political landscape in Congress, the Obama Administration, and at the grassroots.

U.S. Congress
With a more conservative Congress intent on cutting non-military spending, CFSC and our members may face increased challenges to achieving our legislative objectives.

As the Republicans assume leadership of the House of Representatives, the Congress that takes up the next Farm Bill will look dramatically different. Sweeping changes are in store for both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees.

In the House, more than half of the Democrats on the Agriculture Committee lost their seats, and because of the shifting balance of power, many of them will be replaced by Republicans when committee assignments are made in late January. Current ranking member Frank Lucas (R-OK) is expected to become the next Chair. Representative Lucas is a fierce supporter of direct payments to commodity producers, and is considered unlikely to move quickly on the Farm Bill—particularly one containing much-needed reforms in food and farm policy.

In the Senate, current Agriculture Committee Chair Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) lost her bid for reelection. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), a supporter of local and regional food systems from a state where farming centers on fruit and vegetable production, would be next in line. But there are rumors that Kent Conrad (D-ND) could give up leadership of the Budget Committee to claim the Agriculture Committee chair and deliver the Farm Bill.

Despite the apparent landslide, and the historic shift in composition of the House, only a 51% majority voted for Republicans. The House is becoming more conservative, but also more progressive. Half of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats lost their seats, so the Progressive Caucus will now include two-fifths of House Democrats. Ideological differences could lead to partisan gridlock—or the reality of a divided electorate and the responsibility of leadership could increase pressure on the Republicans to deliver legislation, and therefore to compromise with the Democrat-led Senate and White House.

Federal Agencies
Between now and the 2012 elections, administrative approaches could become more vital to winning gains for local and regional food systems at the federal level. The Obama Administration will be feeling urgency to demonstrate progress in the remaining two years of this term, but Congressional inaction could tie up funding to carry out key programs. In this climate, documenting and highlighting the economic benefits of local and regional food systems will be critical to securing policy advances.

Grassroots
There is an opportunity and need for creative and resourceful organizing at the grassroots. Some groups may choose to direct more attention to state, local, and/or corporate policy, to develop models that can be replicated in other places and build momentum toward future federal action.


Overall, the midterm elections were fraught with contradictions. On the one hand, we saw campaigns flooded with cash from undisclosed sources following the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. On the other hand, with unemployment and foreclosure rates soaring, many families are struggling with economic uncertainty and looking for solutions that will help keep roofs over their heads and food on their tables. People are impatient for action, and the community food security movement must rise to the challenge.

For further analysis of what the midterm elections mean for food and farm policy, see CFSC Executive Director Andy Fisher’s article in Civil Eats and NSAC’s analysis.

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Lame Duck or Post Election Work Period - Which will it be?

As Congress returns to Washington next week many of us are wondering - What are they actually going to get done before the end of 2010? Will they get anything done, or will this truly be a "lame-duck session"? And, how much will conversations about shifting leadership dominate the agenda?

There is a movement among advocates in DC to eliminate the phrase "lame-duck session" and refer to the last remaining legislative days of the 111th Congress as a "post election work period." After all, there is a lot of work to be done, and this is the final chance for a Democratic House to push their priorities through, at least for the next two years. Following are two issues very important to CFSC members  that we want Congress to act on NOW! So, read on, and take action...

House: Child Nutrition Reauthorization
In the House, advocates are hoping to wrap up two years of hard work on the Child Nutrition bill when Congress returns on November 15th. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act almost made it to the House floor back in September, but was pulled at the last minute due to pending negotiations with the White House to fix a controversial $2.2 billion cut to the SNAP program.  Fortunately, much has changed over the past 6 weeks, and these changes have given advocates hope.

To start, nutrition and anti-hunger advocates have found a common voice. Realizing that the SNAP cuts can't be ignored, but also that this bill is the only chance of passing child nutrition legislation this Congress, advocates have joined together in asking Congress to find a third way forward. This message was communicated to House leadership today when a letter [PDF] with more than 1200 national, state, and local group signatories was delivered. House Leadership have emphasized that this letter, and specifically the unity of advocates, will play a large role in their decision to move forward on Child Nutrition legislation.

Additionally, Representatives George Miller (D-CA), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and Jim McGovern (D-MA), who were leading the SNAP negotiations with the White House, seem to have reached an agreement with the Administration. While details of this agreement are unknown to the public, McGovern and DeLauro were quoted in a November 10th Washington Post article as supporting House passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. In a meeting with House Majority WHIP Clyburn's (D-SC) office yesterday, CFSC policy staff were told that with Miller, McGovern, and DeLauro now on board, the legislation is likely come to the floor for a vote next week. 

Despite these significant steps forward, we still need your help to ensure child nutriiton legislation is passed this year. Click here to read CFSC's November 8th action alert to see how you can help, and get ready for a National Call-In Day November 15th and 16th. Look for an action alert from CFSC on Monday, 11/15/2010 with details on how to participate.


Senate: Food Safety
In the Senate, advocates are rallying around the passage of a food safety bill that includes protections for local producers and small businesses. The Food Safety Modernization Act, S.510 is now expected to come up for debate next week, and CFSC has joined over 125 national, state, and grassroots organizations in signing a letter of support for a common sense amendment proposed by Sen. Jon Tester (MT) and Sen. Kay Hagan (NC).
[Click here [doc] to read the letter that will be delivered to Senate offices on Friday.]

The Tester-Hagan amendment [pdf] would exempt small farmers and facilities from potentially over-burdensome FDA regulations, recognizing that these producers and processers have not been the source of the food borne illness outbreaks making recent headlines. As discussed in previous newsletters, the food safety problems in the industrial food system, with its long, multi-sourced food supply chains that extend across thousands of miles and even international borders, can and should be addressed without harming the local food systems that provide an alternative for consumers.

Because debates and voting on the legislation is expected to being November 17th,  the time to call to your Senators about this bill is now! Click here [doc] for a fact sheet with talking points for why your elected officials should support the amendment.  

It’s easy to call:  Go to Congress.org and type in your zip code.  Click on your Senator’s name, and then on the contact tab for their phone number.  You can also call the Capitol Switchboard and ask to be directly connected to your Senator’s office: 202-224-3121.  

The message is simple:   “I am a constituent of Senator___________ and I am calling to ask him/her to vote for the Manager’s Amendment and the Tester–Hagan Amendment to the Food Safety Modernization Act.  We need a food safety bill that cracks down on corporate bad actors without erecting new barriers to more local and regional food sourcing.  Size and practice appropriate food safety regulation for small and mid-sized farms and processors is vital to economic recovery, public health, and nutritional wellbeing."

For more information on either the Manager's Amendment or the Tester-Hagan Amendment visit the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, or the Western Organization of Resource Councils.

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On the Hill: Congress and the Agencies

USDA Announces 2010 Specialty Crop Research Grantees
The USDA recently announced the 28 recipients of the 2010 Specialty Crop Research Initiative Grants. The Specialty Crop Research program was established by the 2008 Farm Bill to support research and extension services for the specialty crop industry. $46 million in FY2010 funding will go to twenty-eight grantees around the country, mainly land grant universities and USDA Agricultural Research Service stations. Specialty crops are defined as “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.” Learn more about this year’s recipients on the USDA website.

USDA Seeking Approval of Genetically Modified Beets
Last week the USDA posted an Environmental Assessment (EA) of genetically modified sugar beets, supportive of their plans to re-approve the planting of sugar beet seeds that have been genetically modified to be resistant to certain herbicides. This process could nullify a federal court ruling in August that invalidated the USDA’s original approval, due to the absence of a full environmental impact statement and concerns about seed cross-contamination. Read more about the move on NSAC’s website, or read the environmental assessment, which is open for public comment until December 2nd. The Center for Food Safety, which filed the lawsuit regarding the original regulations, has said it would challenge any new approval of the GE beets in court.

USDA Still Accepting Comments on Proposed Livestock Market Reforms
As reported in previous newsletters, proposed revisions to the law governing fairness within livestock markets has the potential to greatly benefit small family farmers. The proposed new rules would prevent the four major meat producers that control over 80 percent of the U.S. meat market from artificially lowering the price of cattle, hogs and lamb. Furthermore, meatpackers could no longer require small farmers to make expensive upgrades without offering protections to safeguard their investments. The USDA remains open for public comment on the new rule until November 22nd, but according to the Center for Rural Affairs, the meatpacking industry is campaigning heavily against the rule. The Center for Rural Affairs has an action alert on their site to assist in sending a letter to USDA in support of the new proposed rule. 

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New Research and Resources

Farm SceneChild and Adult Care Food Program: Aligning Dietary Guidance for All
The Institute of Medicine recently released a report, commissioned by USDA, evaluating meal requirements for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). The report found that standards for the meals and snacks served to over 3 million Americans through this federally funded program should be revised to reflect the latest in nutrition science and dietary guidelines used in other federal food programs. These meals and snacks should contain greater amounts and varieties of vegetables and fruits, and lower levels of fat, salt, and added sugars. Read the full report or the executive summary here, or on the USDA FNS website.

How Federal Spending Falls Short of Addressing Public Health Needs
In Produce for a Better Health Foundation’s 2010 GAP Analysis, federal government spending priorities over the past ten years are evaluated. Findings show that national fruit and vegetable consumption remains a low priority for the government, despite warnings from high-level federal officials about the impact of this consumption on diet-related diseases. This report states that “closing the fruit and vegetable consumption gap will require closing the fruit and vegetable spending gap,” and recommends steps for aligning USDA, NIH, and CDC spending with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Download the executive summary [PDF] or the full report [PDF].

Food Hardship: A Closer Look at Hunger - Data for the Nation through September 2010
A new report from the Food Research and Action Center looks more closely at data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Overall, the analysis finds that nearly one in five households report an inability to afford enough food, and that the 2009 boost in SNAP benefits has prevented food hardship rates from skyrocketing. Visit FRAC’s website to read the press release and download the full report.

Creating Community-Based Brownfield Redevelopment Strategies
With funding from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), APA's Planning and Community Health Research Center recently published this guide to help community-based organizations participate more effectively in the complicated process of brownfield cleanup and redevelopment, including for urban agriculture purposes. By explaining how different development strategies will benefit their communities, the guide will activate and empower local organizations to have a significant impact on brownfield redevelopment planning. The report includes information on urban agriculture in particular on pages 39-42.

Direct Certification in the National School Lunch Program: State Progress in Implementation
This report, third in an annual series from USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services, assesses the effectiveness of State and local efforts to directly certify children enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs for free school meals.  In school year 2009-2010, the national average for directly certifying school-age SNAP participants was 72 percent, with the strongest States directly certifying more than 80 percent of SNAP-participant children. The full report is available here.

Feasibility of Wider Implementation of Direct Verification with Medicaid
This report from the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services presents the findings of the final phase of a study on Direct Verification – a system of using information from other means-tested programs to verify households’ eligibility for free and reduced-price meals. Currently, school districts are required to call a sample of household applications to verify their eligibility, which can be burdensome on districts and households.  The latest report discusses States’ interest and readiness to implement direct verification, the barriers, and potential solutions. Overall, wider implementation is feasible, although significant challenges include State budget crises and needed clarification on Federal data exchange limitations. States also want implementation guidance, and encourage FNS to continue awarding direct verification grants. Click here to view this report, as well as two previous studies of pilot States on the FNS website.

Nourish Middle School Curriculum Guide
This food literacy curriculum from WorldLink and the Center for Ecoliteracy invites teachers and students to explore the question: "What's the story of our food?"
The standards-aligned curriculum contains a viewing guide, six learning activities, action projects, and suggested resources designed to engage students in a meaningful conversation about food and sustainability. It is appropriate for science, health, social studies, garden education, or English classes. The curriculum, as well as more information about a national initiative designed to open a meaningful conversation about food and sustainability, is available at http://nourishlife.org/curriculum.html

Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card
This report from Rutgers University and the Education Law Center investigates education achievement gaps across the nation and their correlation with spending gaps on national and state levels. The report claims that “two features dominate the landscape of public education in the US and heavily influence education cost and funding: decentralization and student poverty,” and that better measures are needed. The report card evaluates states on four measures: funding level, funding distribution, effort, and coverage. Click here to read the full report [PDF].

New Online Urban Agriculture Resource: City Harvest
City Harvest is an online resource from UK-based alliance Sustain, designed to demonstrate the wide range of benefits associated with urban agriculture with the purpose of strengthening and developing the movement in the UK and across the globe. Visit the site to find publications documenting the social, educational, environmental, economic and health-related impacts of urban agriculture as well as case studies with working examples of these benefits in action.

Film: Running Dry
“Running Dry,” a documentary and comprehensive public information project, was launched to raise awareness regarding the worsening global humanitarian water crisis. The project recently released a call to action that features a 20-minute synopsis of the documentary and the crisis around the world.  View the video and learn more about the project here.

Understanding the Farm Bill: A Citizen’s Guide to a Better Food System
This Facebook page, created by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) and Simple, Good, and Tasty (SGT), offers a collaborative one-stop-shop for citizens interested in becoming more engaged in the Farm Bill and policy that supports a better food system.

Real Time Farms
Real Time Farms is a new national online food guide designed to help citizens around the country learn about farms in their area and find farmers markets, farm stands, and locally sourced restaurants where they can purchase locally produced goods. Visit the site here: http://www.realtimefarms.com/

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Funding Opportunities

USDA 2011 Community Food Projects Grants – Due November 17th
Free assistance is still available for the USDA Community Food Projects (CFP) grant program, the major source of funding source for community-based food and agriculture projects nationwide! CFSC offers a written planning guide with information and recommendations on how to develop a strong proposal. Click here for more information and examples of funded projects. You can also call 1-877-988-1010 or e-mail t&ta@whyhunger.org to be connected with a consultant from WhyHunger who will clarify CFP program guidelines, help you decide whether or not to apply for a grant, provide feedback on project plans, and/or review draft proposals.

$25 million available for Healthy Food Financing Initiative - Due November 19th
The Treasury Department recently announced $25 million in funds available for the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) within the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Program for FY 2011. This is the amount requested in President Obama’s FY 2011 budget for HFFI. Learn more about how to apply for these funds here.

Growing Green Awards – Due December 10th
The Natural Resources Defense Council annually recognizes extraordinary contributions that advance ecologically integrated farming practices, climate stewardship, water stewardship, farmland preservation, and social responsibility from farm to fork. A Growing Green Award will be given to an outstanding individual in each of four categories, including Food Producer, Business Leader, Knowledge Leader, and Young Food Leader. Learn more and submit a nomination here.

Summer Food For Children Demonstration Grants – Due December 15th
USDA is requesting applications for states to enhance the current Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) by testing and evaluating home delivery and food backpack programs designed to reduce hunger among children when school is out. Read more about the grant and how to apply on the USDA website.

Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program – Due December 22nd
The USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program has recently released the 2011 request for applications. In FY 2011, $19 million will be available to support beginning farmers and ranchers. For the purpose of this program, a beginning farm is considered to be one that is operated by one or more operators who have 10 years or less of experience operating a farm or ranch. In 2007, approximately 21 percent of family farms met that definition. For more information on how to apply, or for program management contacts, click here.

Recipes for Healthy Kids Challenge – Due December 30th
 As part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! campaign, the USDA is offering cash prizes for winning student teams who submit original recipes that meet the whole grain foods, dark green and/or orange vegetables, and dry beans and peas (legumes) nutrition requirements for school meals. Click here to learn more.

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Upcoming Events

Webinar: Leveraging Existing Infrastructure for Significant Food System Change – November 18, 3:30-4:45 pm EDT
In this webinar hosted by the National Good Food Network, Karen Karp will provide illustrative examples of the ways in which Karp Resources has worked collaboratively with their non-profit, business, and government clients on scaling up the regional food value chain for long-term change. Click here to learn more and to register.

USDA Hosting Grant Writing Webinar for Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program – November 22, 2-3:30 pm EDT
On November 22, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture will host a webinar on how to write grants for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) – a program with $19 million available to support beginning farms or ranches.  The webinar, lasting from 2:00-3:30pm (EDT), will discuss the program, eligibility, changes in FY 2011, and major “dos” and “don’ts” of writing proposals.  To participate, click here.

USDA and Dept of Justice workshops on corporate consolidation in agriculture – December 8, 2010
Do you know that food and agriculture is one of the most concentrated sectors of the US economy? For the first time in decades, the USDA and the Dept. of Justice (DOJ) are looking into corporate consolidation in agriculture. Since March, USDA and DOJ have been holding a series of workshops to determine whether a handful of food and farming companies may be exercising illegal monopoly control over the food system.  The last of the investigation's workshops will be held on December 8, 2010 in Washington DC. This is the ONLY workshop to focus on how corporate concentration in food and agriculture affects consumer prices. Visit DOJDecember8.wordpress.com, or e-mail Siena@WhyHunger.org for more information about the workshop and how to get involved. For more background on the USDA DOJ workshops, visit the US Working Group on the Food Crisis website.

Via Campesina Mobilizing around 16th Conference of the Parties (COP-16) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – November 29-December 10, 2010
Via Campesina is inviting organizations and individuals from all over to participate in broad mobilization around the latest round of UN Climate Negotiations. As emphasized in Via Campesina’s call to action, Cancun will be a decisive moment for the climate justice and food sovereignty movements to make voices heard.  It will also be a critical opportunity to move forward the People’s Agreement that came out of the Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth that took place in April in Cochabamba, Bolivia. To learn more about how to get involved, either in Mexico or from a distance click here! [pdf]

Enhancing the Competitiveness of Specialty Crops Thursday, December 16, 2010, 2:00 pm ET
The USDA Agriculture Marketing Services (AMS) is hosting a webinar to inform the public of the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and how to apply for funds. The purpose of the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops, defined as “fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).” You can find the webinar registration form on the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program home page at www.ams.usda.gov/scbgp

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CFSC Policy Staff

Kathy Mulvey, Policy Director
Megan Lott, Associate Policy Director

Allison Burket, Policy Intern

Child Nutrition Alerts
Make sure to sign up for our Child Nutrition Alert list to get action alerts as they come out. Things are heating up in Congress - don't miss out on an opportunity to take action!

Missed one of our updates?
Visit the
Policy Update Archives


IN THE NEWS
A little dash of everything*

National News

School Nutrition Could be Revived in Congress
The Washington Post
November 10, 2010

Dinner Is Love: In Conversation with Laurie David
Civil Eats
November 9, 2010

A warming Earth could mean stronger toxins
NatureNews
November 9, 2010

A Hearty Stew of Contradictions: Community Food Security Conference Gumbo
CivilEats
November 9, 2010

Audio: Nudging Grocery Store Shoppers Toward Healthy Food
NPR
November 8, 2010

Nation Waist-Deep In Soybeans After $30 Trillion Farm Subsidy Bill Accidentally Passed
theOnion
November 8, 2010

Happy Meal Makeover: How a Healthy Food Coalition Defeated a Fast Food Icon
CivilEats
November 8, 2010

India’s Diabetes Epidemic Cuts Down Millions Who Escape Poverty

Bloomberg News
November 7, 2010

While Warning About Fat, U.S. Pushes Cheese Sales
The New York Times
November 6, 2010

You Say Tomato, I Say Slavery
The Huffington Post
November 5, 2010

What the Mid-term Elections Mean for the Upcoming Farm Bill
CivilEats
November 5, 2010

Food Companies Warily Try to Pas Along Higher Costs

The Wall Street Journal
November 4, 2010

How Ultra-Processed Foods Are Killing Us
The Atlantic
November 4, 2010

How Lead Gets Into Your Urban Gardens
Science Daily
November 3, 2010
 
‘Ultra-processing’ is main dietary cause of obesity

Decision News Media
November 3, 2010

How Obama Saved Capitalism and Lost the Midterms

The New York Times
November 2, 2010

Kids get schooled at McDonald’s

CT Post
November 2, 2010

Plenty Of Foods Harbor BPA, Study Finds

Science News
November 2, 2010

Scientists find Bisphenol in U.S. Food
Chemical and Engineering News
November 1, 2010

Farm to Fridge to Garbage Can
The New York Times
November 1, 2010

Fairness in food from farm to [every] plate
Radio Sustain
November 1, 2010

The Killer Kernel
Corporate Knights
November, 2010

Obama Releases Historic U.S. Global Development Policy
Bread for the World
November, 2010

Jim Embry, 2010 Garden Crusader
Gardener’s Supply
October 31, 2010

U.S. Says Genes Should Not Be Eligible for Patenting 

The New York Times
October 29, 2010

China rejects U.S. corn cargo, citing GMOs
Reuters
October 29, 2010

Why New GIPSA Rules Support Family Farms

Civil Eats
October 28, 2010

Diabetes to double or triple in U.S. by 2050

Reuters
October 23, 2010

State of the Organic Union
The Atlantic
October 21, 2010

Why patents on seeds and animals result in monopoly control over the entire food chain
Natural News
October 15, 2010

Revealed: how seed market is controlled by Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, Dow & DuPont

The Ecologist
October 7, 2010



State News

Study: Hometown grocery stores play important role in rural living
Journal Star (AK)
November 8, 2010

Walmart wants Iowans to farm by its principles
The Des Moines Register (IA)
November 7, 2010

An Edible Education
The Star (ON)
November 3, 2010

San Francisco Bans the Happy Meal
The Huffington Post (CA)
November 2, 2010

The Friedman School: As white as Wonder Bread
The Tufts Daily (MA)
November 1, 2010

I Believe: ‘We have the power to change, improve and reclaim our food systems’
Burlington Free Press (VT)
October 31, 2010

Health disparities and neighborhoods
Daily Planet (MN)
October 30, 2010

USDA Official Visits Alabama to Honor 52 Alabama Public Schools for Meeting USDA's HealthierUS School Challenge
USDA (AL)
October 29, 2010

‘Vertical Farm’ envisions tall future for farming
CNBC (MI)
October 28, 2010

Experts: Prices at the grocery store are on the way up
Kare11 (MN)
October 22, 2010

Farm to School Lunch Program in Jeopardy?
Public News Service (IL)
September 29, 2010


*The above articles represent a sample of food issues in the
media, not necessarily the opinion of CFSC.




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Support Our Work
If you find these newsletters informative, please consider becoming a member, renewing your membership, or donating to CFSC. Your donation in any amount will help to sustain our efforts to meet new challenges in food security. Thank you for your support!





Community Food Security Coalition
110 Maryland Ave. NE Suite 307 Washington, DC 20002
 (202) 543-8602 | www.FoodSecurity.org

The Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC) is a non-profit 501(c)(3), North American organization dedicated to building strong, sustainable, local and regional food systems that ensure access to affordable, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food for all people at all times. We seek to develop self-reliance among all communities in obtaining their food and to create a system of growing, manufacturing, processing, making available, and selling food that is regionally based and grounded in the principles of justice, democracy, and sustainability.

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