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 multiyear 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 Obesity 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 believe that Black lives and health matter; we commit to educating ourselves and others about the impact of structural racism in our food systems, public policies, and institutions, and to addressing it in all its forms.

The HFPP team includes: Laurie Beyranevand, Claire Child, Lihlani Nelson, and Whitney Shields (CAFS); Julie Ralston Aoki, Rebecca Hare, Jay Kelly, Stephanie Lackey, and Craig Moscetti (PHLC); and Abiodun Atoloye, Sally Mancini, and  Kristen Cooksey Stowers (Rudd Center).

The HFPP Advisory Committee members are: Reverend Dr. Heber Brown, III with the Black Church Food Security Network, Renee Gross with Kaiser Permanente, Lauren Lowery with the Housing and Community Development at 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, and Kathryn Lynch Underwood with the Detroit City Planning Commission.

Previous advisory committee members include: Pakou Hang with the Hmong American Farmers Association, Emily Broad Leib with the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic and Dr. Samina Raja with Growing Food Connections 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.


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

The Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School supports scholars, practitioners, and students in producing innovative research and legal tools for use by the food and agriculture community. CAFS offers an expanding curriculum in food and agriculture for law and policy students in order to train advocates for sustainable local and regional food systems. Learn more at vermontlaw.edu/cafs.

Public Health Law Center

Everyone deserves to be healthy. The Public Health Law Center collaborates with others to reduce and eliminate commercial tobacco, promote healthy food, support physical activity, 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 individuals working on public health 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 & Obesity at the University of Connecticut is a distinguished multi-disciplinary policy research center dedicated to promoting solutions to childhood obesity, poor diet, 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. She leads 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.

Past team members including Sarah Danly (CAFS), Amanda Karls, Ross Daniels, and Leoma Van Dort (PHLC), student Law Clerks Darrell Hill and Arielle Sloan, CAFS Research Assistants Renee Smith, Sylvia Duluc-Silva, and Michaela Koke, and CAFS Intern Whitney Shields for their invaluable assistance.

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. Our Coding Manual, which has more information about our policy selection and coding process, will be available soon. To learn more about what types of laws we included and excluded, click 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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