Food Day 2012 is a great way to highlight and support local or state policies that will help create a healthy, safe and affordable food system. With thousands of events taking place across the nation on October 24th, it’s a wonderful opportunity to educate the public and policymakers as well as encourage lawmakers to either introduce or support specific pieces of legislation that will improve our food system.
Food policies that are currently being introduced and debated across America include a sugary drink tax, food procurement laws for government agencies/buildings, GMO labeling laws, menu labeling laws, sugary drink portion cap regulations, policies that mandate nutrition standards for kid’s meals sold with toys, farmworker wage laws, farm animal welfare laws and laws that regulate the marketing of unhealthy food to children.
If you’d like to use Food Day to help spur policy change in your neck of the woods here are six suggestions on how you can go about it:
- Circulate a Petition at Local Food Day Events – If there’s a local or state food policy you’d like to see introduced or passed, why not place a petition in favor of that policy at Food Day events in your area. The people who attend Food Day events are inclined to support food policies that improve our food environment and will likely take a moment to sign. Last year, some event organizers had paper petitions at events around the nation while others asked attendees to sign on to an online petition (and they had computers at their events so people could “sign” right there.)
- Organize a Lobby Day on Food Day – Is there an important food policy being debated in your region? Why not organize a lobby day in support of that policy on October 24th? Coordinate with local organizations that support the policy to set up the lobby day. And make sure you collaborate on a list of talking points. Don’t forget to send out a press release to media outlets letting them know about your Food Day lobbying activity. It’s a great way to get publicity and encourage public support as well.
- Submit an Op Ed for Publication on Food Day – If there’s a local or regional food policy you’d like to see enacted, submit a supportive op ed right before Food Day. Mention Food Day in the first sentence to encourage your local publication to publish your op ed on October 24th. For example, “As we celebrate Food Day 2012 on October 24th, it’s time for our City Council to introduce a sugary drink tax…”
- Organize a Postcard Campaign in Support of a Food Policy – If you’d like to target specific policymakers with regard to a food policy, you may want to consider a postcard campaign. Have stamped, addressed, pre-printed postcards in support of the policy at all local Food Day events in your region. Just ask people to sign their name and drop in the mail. Better yet, collect the signed postcards yourself so you can ensure they are mailed.
- Hold a Press Conference in Support of Food Policy on Food Day --- If your organization is a strong supporter of a particular food policy in your region, why not hold a press conference in support of the measure on Food Day? Bring in an expert line-up such as physicians and nutritionists to support the policy. Make sure you invite local decision-makers to the event.
- Organize a Public Rally in Support of Food Policy on Food Day – Is there a food policy currently being debated in your region like Proposition 37 (GMO labeling) or a sugary drink tax? Food Day is the perfect day to organize a public rally in support of the policy. Send out a notice about the rally several weeks prior and work closely with other supportive organizations to ensure that you have a good turnout. If the policy impacts kids, invite several classes of school children to attend. Send out a media advisory the day before so that media will cover your rally.
Nancy Huehnergarth is the New York State Coordinator for Food Day 2012. She is also president of Nancy F. Huehnergarth Consulting, which specializes in nutrition and physical activity advocacy and policy change. She regularly posts to her blog and writes frequently for numerous publications on food reform. Follow her on Twitter.