Supporting Food Security and Access

CLF is working to protect the health of New England’s regional food system, reduce the distance food travels to our plates, and promote a stronger local food economy. To move these goals forward, we have worked closely with the Rhode Island Food Policy Council (RIFPC), a statewide collaborative body launched in 2011 that coordinates advocacy, communication, education and outreach, research, and on-the-ground initiatives that increase the state’s “Community Food Security.” RIFPC defines Community Food Security as a vibrant and sustainable local food system that provides all community residents with equitable access to affordable, nutritious, healthy, safe, high-quality, culturally appropriate food. Community Food Security exists when Rhode Island’s food system is synergistically increasing the health of the state’s economy, ecology, and all community residents.

CLF and CLF Ventures have worked with the RIFPC and its partners to develop a business plan to help advance sustainable agriculture and food systems in Rhode Island and throughout New England. The business plan includes financial projections and estimated expenses, potential revenue sources, and guidance on operational efficiency at the Council. Working in collaboration with RIFPC and its partners to develop this business plan, CLF and CLF Ventures have helped these stakeholders navigate the complexities of local and regional food systems to achieve food security.

Backing Backyard Chickens

(c) Steven L. Johnson | Flickr

(c) Steven L. Johnson | Flickr

Bans on chickens in urban areas began in New York City in the late 1800s, motivated by concern over unsanitary slaughter. While that concern has all but vanished today, the backyard keeping of hens for eggs has increased dramatically in recent years. Not only can keeping chickens help residents ease food insecurity and promote economic self-reliance, but evidence also suggests that eggs from backyard chickens have more nutritional value than commercial eggs. Chickens also reduce pests and waste by eating a wide variety of food, including ticks, grasshoppers, kitchen scraps, and weeds. Plus, they’re adorable.

CLF is working to repeal municipal bans that prevent residents from keeping backyard chickens. Providence and Barrington have already repealed chicken bans. CLF is helping to educate citizens and city councils, and will continue to push to remove barriers to this valuable local food source.

Reducing, Reusing, and Redefining Food Waste

New England states are taking a hard look at how we handle food and other organic scraps and leftovers, which are often treated as trash. Keeping organic materials out of landfills and returning them to the land is good policy for many reasons: food scraps are not trash and should not take up space in Rhode Island’s rapidly filling landfill. In addition, food scraps produce the greenhouse gas methane when discarded in landfills, but when composted or anaerobically digested, they produce valuable soil amendments. Finally, the compost and other soil amendments created from food scraps can support Rhode Island’s burgeoning local agriculture and food sector.

CLF is actively supporting efforts to change how we think about and use food and other organic waste: We are lobbying in favor of legislation that would keep food scraps out of the landfill. We are working to ensure that the Department of Environmental Management updates its compost regulations in a way that allows new composting operations to take food scraps and thrive. And we are advocating against other barriers to the reuse of organic materials through composting and anaerobic digestion.