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Food Policy Action Statement on Rep. Steve Southerland Defeat

Food Policy Action Statement on Rep. Steve Southerland Defeat

By | November 6th, 2014 | FPA Blogs & News |


Contact: Claire Benjamin (202) 631-6362 claire@foodpolicyaction.org “This is a big win for food advocates and Florida families. Congressman Southerland has repeatedly made policy choices that are harmful to families and small farmers. Today, we proved that voters care about food issues, and they will hold their elected officials accountable on Election Day,” said Tom Colicchio,…


Contact: Claire Benjamin (202) 631-6362 claire@foodpolicyaction.org “This is a big win for food advocates and Florida families. Congressman Southerl...

Contact: Claire Benjamin
(202) 631-6362
claire@foodpolicyaction.org

“This is a big win for food advocates and Florida families. Congressman Southerland has repeatedly made policy choices that are harmful to families and small farmers. Today, we proved that voters care about food issues, and they will hold their elected officials accountable on Election Day,” said Tom Colicchio, co-founder and board member of FPA.

“Food Policy Action stands for the principle that the American people want and deserve to know how elected officials in Washington are voting on issues that affect the food we eat,” said Ken Cook, Chairman of FPA. “This year, for the first time, we communicated with voters whose Members have been voting the wrong way, and the response to our message has been incredibly positive.”

Food is Worth Fighting For

Food is Worth Fighting For

By | November 6th, 2014 | FPA Blogs & News |


By Tom Colicchio I was recently criticized for urging our elected leaders to adopt sensible food policies that expand accessibility to food, improve nutrition and health, and support family farms. Let me be clear: I am guilty as charged. I have spent my entire life around food. My mother was a school lunch lady, and…


By Tom Colicchio I was recently criticized for urging our elected leaders to adopt sensible food policies that expand accessibility to food, improve...

TomColicchio

By Tom Colicchio

I was recently criticized for urging our elected leaders to adopt sensible food policies that expand accessibility to food, improve nutrition and health, and support family farms. Let me be clear: I am guilty as charged.

I have spent my entire life around food. My mother was a school lunch lady, and from her I learned not only how to cook, but about the importance of food in so many aspects of life. Today, I’m a parent and a chef. Like almost every family, mine makes daily decisions about food in the kitchen, at the grocery store, at work, and at school. What many Americans don’t realize, however, is that our representatives in Washington are also making decisions about the food we eat, and not very good ones.

Washington, D.C. has incredible influence on the quality, availability, and affordability of food in America. Federal subsidies, paid for with American tax dollars, are lavished on the ingredients that make unhealthy food cheap, produced by Corporate mega-farms, while healthy fruits and vegetables are labeled “specialty crops” and receive far less support. Today, an effort is underway to prevent consumers from knowing whether the food they buy contains genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, even though the overwhelming majority of Americans support their right to know what is in their food. Lawmakers decide eligibility and funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps even as the great Recession has left more and more hungry Americans in its wake. For millions of families, politicians are literally deciding who gets to eat. In the last farm bill, politicians in Washington slashed food stamps by an unconscionable $8.6 billion.

Recipients of food stamps have been treated as if they are lazy or have substandard values. According to the non-partisan Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, three-fourths of new SNAP recipients leave the program within two years, and half receive benefits for ten months or less — evidence that the program is a crucial life line for families during hard times. Millions of SNAP recipients are working and still can’t afford sufficient food to lead a healthy, productive lives, and as more and more Americans meet this description, the SNAP program has grown to accommodate them.

So, do I think food is a political issue? You bet I do. You bet I do.

For all of these reasons and more, I am a food advocate. Elected officials in Washington are making decisions that affect how we grow, produce, manufacture, and market our food. In 2012, I co-founded Food Policy Action, a non-partisan organization that arms the public with information about how their elected officials vote when it comes to improving our food and agriculture systems. From ensuring hungry families have access to basic food assistance, to labeling GMOs and preventing the overuse of antibiotics on farms, voters want this information and the response to our efforts has been incredible. These are not Republican or Democratic (or – heaven-forbid Progressive) issues. These are American issues, and how we address them says a lot about our values as Americans.

There’s a lot ahead that voters have a right to know about: Next year, Congress will reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act, which shapes the quality and availability of school meals. Some of our lawmakers want to roll back the nutritional gains made in the last Child Nutrition Act, at the urging of food companies who think pizza should count as a vegetable. We also expect votes on consumers’ right to know about the presence of GMOs in their food – whether you think GMOs are smart farming or a threat to the environment, there is no credible rationale for hiding them from the American public. I’ll continue to speak out on these issues because there are a lot of powerful people hoping that Americans aren’t watching too closely, and I’m fortunate enough to have a spotlight and a megaphone.

One critic suggested I should “stick to my pots and pans.” But I’ve always made sure there is good, responsibly sourced food in those pots and pans, and I’m not about to stop now. Americans have a right to that, and a right to speak out when they see issues of basic common sense and justice mishandled by their elected officials, whether they are chefs or not. You might leave the “proselytizing to the politicians” but I prefer my leaders lead, with smart policies that make healthy, affordable food available to all.

Tom Colicchio is a chef, food advocate and board member of Food Policy Action

FOOD POLICY ACTION MAKES CONGRESSMAN STEVE SOUTHERLAND ITS #1 CAMPAIGN TARGET

FOOD POLICY ACTION MAKES CONGRESSMAN STEVE SOUTHERLAND ITS #1 CAMPAIGN TARGET

By | October 1st, 2014 | Press Releases - Food Policy Action |


WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2014 Contact: Claire Benjamin (202) 631-6362 claire@foodpolicyaction.org GROUP SAYS SOUTHERLAND’S RECORD ON SENSIBLE FOOD POLICIES IS ROTTEN Washington, D.C. – Today, Food Policy Action announced that Congressman Steve Southerland of Florida’s Second Congressional District will be the group’s top target for defeat in the upcoming midterm elections. The organization, which is dedicated…


WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2014 Contact: Claire Benjamin (202) 631-6362 claire@foodpolicyaction.org GROUP SAYS SOUTHERLAND’S RECORD ON SENSIBLE FOOD POLIC...

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2014
Contact: Claire Benjamin
(202) 631-6362
claire@foodpolicyaction.org

GROUP SAYS SOUTHERLAND’S RECORD ON SENSIBLE FOOD POLICIES IS ROTTEN

Washington, D.C. – Today, Food Policy Action announced that Congressman Steve Southerland of Florida’s Second Congressional District will be the group’s top target for defeat in the upcoming midterm elections. The organization, which is dedicated to educating the public about the votes their elected leaders take on critically important food issues, will devote significant resources in the race as part of a larger, one million dollar effort to hold elected officials accountable for the votes they make related to food quality, accessibility, and sustainability.

“Congressman Southerland has a clear history of voting against sensible food policy and has repeatedly made policy choices that are harmful to families and small farmers,” said Claire Benjamin, Managing Director of Food Policy Action. “His record on food is rotten. We’re letting voters in his district know that Steve Southerland is way past his sell-by date.”

Over the last two years, Southerland has voted multiple times to roll back funding and regulation on food safety, pesticides, nutrition assistance, and healthy food initiatives:

  • Voted against an additional $1 million in funding to protect against E-coli contaminations for the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition [Amendment 420, H.R. 2112, 6/15/2011].
  • Voted to make it easier to discharge pesticides that pollute rivers and other waterways, and to eliminate the need for a permit for such activities [Voted yes on H.R. 935, 07/31/2014].
  • Voted to cut Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by more than $39 billion, preventing 4 million individuals, including children, seniors, military families, and veterans from receiving critical nutrition assistance [H.R. 3102, 9/19/2013].
  • Voted to eliminate the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) and to end support for projects that increase access to healthy and affordable food in low-income communities [Amendment 30, H.R. 1947, 6/20/2013].

Southerland was also credited for being singularly responsible for blocking the 2013 Farm Bill from passage. Southerland’s SNAP work requirement amendment would have given cash incentives to states for kicking SNAP recipients off the program who have not been able to find work. This was not only bad policy, it also caused the whole process to grind to a halt.

  • According to the Southeast Farm Press, Southerland amendment “was key to the bill’s failure Thursday.” [Southeast Farm Press, 6/25/13].
  • Politico reported “the farm bill has been a beacon of bipartisanship in an increasingly rough-and-tumble chamber. The defeat of Thursday’s version was propelled by the adoption of Florida GOP Rep. Steve Southerland’s amendment to institute work requirements for recipients of food stamps.” [Politico, 6/20/13].
  • The Sunshine State News also reported that “Some disappointed House Republicans are blaming Florida colleague Steve Southerland for losing 195-234, a five-year farm bill leadership badly wanted.” [Sunshine State News, 6/20/13].

In order to hold Congressman Southerland accountable for his terrible record, Food Policy Action will conduct a targeted voter turnout program, including telephone calls and digital ads, focused on educating drop-off voters about Southerland’s abysmal voting record on food policy.

“Congressman Southerland is out of step with voters on the importance of common sense food policy. Parents and young voters will not stand for his continued disregard for the health and safety of the food that feeds our families,” said Benjamin.

About Food Policy Action
Food Policy Action was established in 2012 through a collaboration of national food policy leaders in order to hold legislators accountable on votes that have an effect on food and farming. Our goal is to change the national dialogue on food policy by educating the public on how elected officials are voting on these issues. Through education and the National Food Policy Scorecard, more people will be armed with the information they need to vote with their forks and elect more food policy leaders across the country.

The Public Deserves Better

The Public Deserves Better

By | September 25th, 2014 | Blogs |


By, Tom Colicchio The food that feeds our families and supports our agriculture industry is affected every day by the decisions that elected officials make in Washington. Members of Congress regularly vote on policies that affect the quality, availability, and sustainability of our food supply. And yet, there has been very little attention to bringing…


By, Tom Colicchio The food that feeds our families and supports our agriculture industry is affected every day by the decisions that elected officials m...

By, Tom Colicchio

The food that feeds our families and supports our agriculture industry is affected every day by the decisions that elected officials make in Washington. Members of Congress regularly vote on policies that affect the quality, availability, and sustainability of our food supply. And yet, there has been very little attention to bringing transparency and accountability to that discussion.

As someone who has spent his life in the food business, I firmly believe that when citizens enter the voting booth, they need to be as informed about food policy as they are about a candidate’s views on job creation, foreign policy, and social issues. Unfortunately, in Arkansas right now, we have a classic example of what’s wrong with the political discourse around food in this country.

U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, who is running for Senate, released a campaign ad that misleads voters and misconstrues the facts about the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill is a critically important law that shapes food production, determines nutrition assistance, and supports farmers, among other things. Sadly, Rep. Cotton’s ad wrongfully accuses President Obama of “hijacking the farm bill and turning it into a food stamp bill,” which simply isn’t true.

But don’t take my word for it. The Washington Post called the ad’s claims “invented history,” and the non-partisan fact-checker Politifact gave the dubious ad its “Pants On Fire” rating, which is the equivalent of an “F” on a high school report card. The truth is, SNAP (a.k.a. food stamps) first became a part of the Farm Bill during the Great Depression, and has been included in every Farm Bill that has become law since 1973. It has been supported by Members from both sides of the aisle for decades.

Today’s voters deserve better. We’ll never be able to improve food policies in this country if our leaders distort and distract instead of discuss and debate. Voters need information, which is why I co-founded Food Policy Action, a non-partisan organization dedicated to bringing light and accountability to the food debate.

Every year, Food Policy Action puts together a Legislative Scorecard to help voters get the information they need to know exactly how their elected officials vote on these important issues. You can find more information about the scorecard at www.foodpolicyaction.org.

Last year, Rep. Tom Cotton scored a 0% on the Legislative Scorecard. In other words, on every single vote that touched upon sensible food policy, Rep. Cotton voted the wrong way. In light of this score and his blatantly false ad, I know this much to be true: the public deserves better. It’s up to voters to make sure Rep. Cotton gets the message.

Tom Colicchio is Co-Founder of Food Policy Action, a Food Advocate and Chef

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Food Policy Action's Mission / Our Mission

Our mission is to highlight the importance of food policy and to promote policies that support healthy diets, reduce hunger at home and abroad, improve food access and affordability, uphold the rights and dignity of food and farm workers, increase transparency, improve public health, reduce the risk of food-borne illness, support local and regional food systems, protect and maintain sustainable fisheries, treat farm animals humanely and reduce the environmental impact of farming and food production. Food Policy Action promotes positive policies through education and publication of the National Food Policy Scorecard.

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