Moving Beyond Food Deserts in Healthy Food Policy

Advocates and policymakers have used the term “food desert” to shape public health and food policy in the US for decades. But in recent years, critics have identified limitations to the term—including its failure to acknowledge the root causes of limited food access and the vibrancy of the communities experiencing it.

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Food and Nutrition Policy at the Local Level: Recent Insights and Emerging Trends

Millions of Americans simultaneously experience food and nutrition insecurity while suffering from diet-related diseaseslike obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, these diseases are some of the leading causes of death and disability in the US with rates increasing steadily over time. One of the root causes of both food and nutrition insecurity and diet-related disease is unequal access to healthy and nutritious foods. In addition to state and federal policy action to address disparities in food and nutrition security,3 counties, cities, and other local governments can play an important role in improving access to healthy and nutritious food.

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Why Preemption Is Bad for Local Healthy Eating Policy Movements

Preemption occurs when the state or federal government passes a law or issues agency rules that eliminate or restrict the authority of local governments on a certain issue. When local laws are preempted, they usually have no force or effect. A preemptive state or federal law can invalidate local healthy eating policies that represent years of effort, and are traditionally difficult to repeal.

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Local Laws and Local Food - What's the Difference?

The term "local healthy food policy" can be confusing. Some think about local governments passing laws to support community access to healthy food. Some think about policies that affect food produced and sold near where they live. It can be both, and here are the differences.

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Finding Scientific Evidence to Support a Healthy Eating Law or Policy

This document presents publicly available sources that provide scientific reviews relating to laws and policies to promote healthy eating and/or access to healthy food. These reviews may include information on the impacts that these policies may have on health outcomes.

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How the Farm Bill Affects Local Food Policies

The farm bill encompasses policies related to hunger, farm support programs, and a variety of other topics relevant to food and agriculture, and impacts local-level policy efforts to promote access to healthy food.

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State Policy Options to Increase Access to Healthy Food

Local governments are typically subordinate to state governments, which wield a great deal of power in regulating issues that affect the welfare and health of their citizens. This document provides a review of state laws enacted from 2015 to mid-2018 related to healthy food access to identify high-level trends and opportunities for state policy development.

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Zoning for Urban Agriculture

This resource summarizes zoning laws that promote and support agriculture in urban municipalities and highlights examples of strategies from around the country. Additionally, the resource furthers the Healthy Food Policy Project’s goal of identifying local policy options that support access to healthy food.

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Municipal Policy Options for Healthy Food Access in Stores and Restaurants

Counties, cities, towns, and other municipalities can use a variety of policy tools to improve food offerings in their communities. This resource focuses on ordinances and other formalized municipal policies that address healthy food access in food stores and restaurants.

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