There is nothing more inspiring than spending a few days with colleagues, partners, and collaborators in the good food fight. At the Power of Procurement: Good Food for our Future summit, hosted by the Center for Good Food Purchasing with generous support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, 200 food systems leaders from across the nation convened in Chicago to strategize on advancing institutional procurement that supports “good food” economies that value health, fair wages, the environment and humane treatment of animals. I was honored to travel with the Kansas City cohort. While I tweeted in Chicago (@foodequality), I want to share my reflections from the summit and why procurement is powerful.

The Kansas City cohort at the summit.
The Kansas City cohort at the summit.

What is Procurement?

Food policy is often limited to food labeling laws in the food allergy and celiac disease communities. However, there are a host of policies that impact our food system that either increase or inhibit access to safe and healthy foods that nourish. Procurement policies guide the purchasing practices at institutions, schools, and governments.

Procurement policies in our work at Food Equality Initiative (FEI) are central to building a more equitable food system that works for everyone, including those with dietary restrictions.  At FEI, we envision a nation where everyone has access to the foods that nourish and provide health. It’s a vision that we work toward every day with support from people like you.

Data drives change.

At FEI, we know the value of good data. Data is key to the systems change we seek and proves our vision matters. Even greater, it compels others to join and invest in our work. Gary Cohen, from Health Care Without Harm, noted at the summit, “Our food system is bankrupting our healthcare system.” Now, more than ever, we understand the connection that exists between good nutrition and good health.  There are many studies that show the link between a nutritious diet and prevention of nutrition-related chronic diseases. However, few studies exist showing the link between access to healthy free-from foods and diet-treated conditions such as food allergies and celiac disease. Can you invest in our data infrastructure for change?

Together we can…

While there were many new technical tools I gleaned during the summit, the most impactful part was networking with partners, colleagues, and collaborators from across the nation. There is strength in our collective efforts to create change. Get to know work and join our National Action Committee. Your voice, perspective, and support are needed here! Check out all we accomplished together in 2018, stay engaged, and together we can build a just food system.

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