Healthy Food Policy Project

The Healthy Food Policy Project (HFPP) identifies and elevates local laws that seek to promote access to healthy food while also contributing to strong local economies, an improved environment, and health equity, with a focus on socially disadvantaged and marginalized groups. HFPP is a collaboration of the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School (CAFS), the Public Health Law Center (PHLC), and the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Health at the University of Connecticut. This project is funded by the National Agricultural Library, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Healthy food access policies and racial justice go hand in hand. We at the Healthy Food Policy Project commit to educating ourselves and others about the impact of structural racism in our food systems, public policies, and institutions, and to addressing that impact in all its forms.

Past advisory committee members include: Reverend Dr. Heber Brown, III, with the Black Church Food Security Network, Renee Gross with Kaiser Permanente, Pakou Hang previously with the Hmong American Farmers Association, Emily Broad Leib with the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, Lauren Lowery with Housing and Community Development at the National League of Cities, Anne Palmer with the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, Dr. David Procter with the Rural Grocery Initiative at Kansas State University, Kathryn Lynch Underwood with the Detroit City Planning Commission, and Dr. Samina Raja with the Department of Urban and Regional Planning and the Food Systems planning and Healthy Communities Lab at the University of Buffalo.

You can find our printable capabilities sheet here.


USDA National Agricultural Library

This project is funded by the National Agricultural Library, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Project Lead

Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) at Vermont Law School

The Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) trains law and policy students to develop real-world solutions for a more sustainable and just food system. With local, regional, national, and international partners, CAFS addresses food system challenges related to food justice, food security, farmland access, farmworkers’ rights, animal welfare, worker protections, the environment, and public health, among others. CAFS works closely with its partners to provide legal services that respond to their needs and develop resources that empower the communities they serve. Through CAFS’ Food and Agriculture Clinic and Research Assistant program, Vermont Law School students work directly on projects alongside partners nationwide, engaging in innovative work that spans the food system. Visit www.vermontlaw.edu/cafs to learn more. 

Project Partners

Public Health Law Center

Everyone deserves to be healthy. The Public Health Law Center collaborates with partners and communities to advance health equity, with a focus on policies to support healthy food systems, physical activity, reduce and eliminate commercial tobacco, and address other causes of chronic disease. Our belief in health and equity for all people is at the core of our work. Our partnerships include Tribal health leaders, federal agencies, national health advocacy organizations, state and local governments, planners, researchers, attorneys, community coalitions, and community members working on public health and health equity issues. Our deep knowledge, our thoughtful legal and policy analysis, and our individualized approach help these partners create healthier communities around the country. Founded in 2000, the Center is located at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota. Learn more at publichealthlawcenter.org.

Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at the University of Connecticut

The Rudd Center for Food Policy and Health promotes solutions to food insecurity, poor diet quality, and weight bias through research and policy. The Rudd Center is a leader in building broad-based consensus to change diet and activity patterns by conducting research and educating policy makers and the public. Learn more at uconnruddcenter.org.


The HFPP thanks the following individuals and organizations:

Amanda Karls, J.D. Amanda is Principal of Foodvocate LLC. As of September 2021, she has been leading legal analysis for the Healthy Food Policy Project policy database and has authored or contributed to numerous other HFPP resources. Foodvocate LLC provides policy, research and strategy consulting to address systemic barriers to growing, selling, sharing, and accessing good food. Learn more at foodvocate.com

Lakeshore Foundation-NCHPAD for providing a number of photos for the website.

Key Definitions

The HFPP uses these definitions for talking and thinking about healthy food access policies.


Policy Database Methodology

The Healthy Food Policy Project team developed a detailed coding process to help understand how a law addresses access to healthy food and the factors of health, improved environmental conditions, strong local economies, and priority populations. The coding tool also provides a preliminary analysis of whether and to what extent the law reflects good legal drafting practices. We identified laws to include in the policy database through a variety of sources, including the Growing Connections policy database, search strings applied to municipal legal code libraries (American Legal Publishing, eCode360, Municode, and Sterling), and web searches. For more information about the policy database, contact us here.

Case Study Methodology

The Healthy Food Policy Project team solicited case study nominations from communities across the United States and developed a decision matrix to guide the case study selection process. The decision matrix included both core criteria (e.g., type of law or plan, impact on health equity), contextual criteria (e.g., geographic location, median household income), and aspirational criteria (e.g., intentional efforts to ensure that community groups likely to be impacted by the law were actively included in the policy development process). For more information on the case study methodology, click here.

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