October 20, 2015

New Research Shows Americans Want Better Food Policy

Plate of the Union Campaign will educate public and candidates in lead up to 2016 election

Pocantico Hills, N.Y (October 20, 2015) – Today, new research released shows that Americans agree: the U.S. food system isn’t meeting everyone’s needs, and stronger food policies are needed to ensure all Americans have equal access to healthy, affordable food.

The research was released by “Plate of the Union”, a new campaign by the Union of Concerned Scientists, Food Policy Action, and the HEAL Food Alliance. This diverse group of food leaders is working together to challenge 2016 presidential candidates to address food and farming policy and answer questions Americans have about access to healthy food.

A 53 percent majority of likely voters agreed that too many Americans can’t afford healthy food in their communities, and better food policy is needed to ensure that everyone has access to nutritious food. Voters are concerned that our food policy is too focused on money instead of health. Fully 81 percent of voters have concerns that food and agriculture companies have given millions to candidates for Congress, and 81 percent have concerns that the federal government recommends a diet of 50 percent fruits and vegetables but gives less than 1 percent of farm subsidies to fruits and vegetables. It is no surprise that voters want change. A strong bipartisan 75% majority of voters favor incentives to promote sustainable farming.

“Voters across party lines strongly support reforming our food system,” said Celinda Lake, the president of Lake Research Partners. “Access to affordable healthy food is a core value for voters, and they want the next President to take bold steps that make our food system prioritize health over profit.”

“Plate of the Union is the first coordinated campaign effort to get candidates running for President talking about our broken food system.” said Tom Colicchio, co-founder of Food Policy Action. “The truth is, our current food system is out of balance. It prioritizes corporate profits at the expense of our health, the environment and working families. The next President needs to take bold steps to reform our food system to ensure all Americans have equal access to healthy, affordable food.”

“Frontline communities are leading the way in finding real solutions to the health, environmental and social problems caused by the food system, but we need the next administration to catch up”, says Dara Cooper organizer with HEAL Food Alliance. “Across the country people are mobilizing for an alternate food system.”

“Our current food system works well for a handful of corporations at the expense of farmers, rural communities, taxpayers and food workers, to name just a few,” says Mark Bittman, a food writer and advocate working with UCS and Plate of the Union. “The impacts on the health of people and our planet are grave. The cost of this system is too high, the consequences too dire, and the practices and policies too outdated to allow them to continue without challenge.”

The research was conducted by bipartisan team Lake Research Partners and Bellwether Research and Consulting. Focus groups took place in August of 2015 with white married mothers and white unmarried women in Des Moines Iowa, white suburban mothers and African American mothers in Raleigh North Carolina, and white suburban fathers and Latina mothers in Denver Colorado. Participants were recruited to reflect a mix of partisanship and education levels. The poll surveyed 1000 registered likely 2016 voters.

Research Memo can be found here

About Plate of the Union: Plate of the Union is a collaborative campaign driven by Food Policy Action, Food Policy Action Education Fund, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the HEAL Food Alliance to raise the voice of Americans who care about food and farm issues during this election season. The policies that shape our food system influence our health, our environment, and our economy. Together, we’re calling on the next President to take bold action for a food system that rewards farmers and farming practices that protect our environment, that provides dignity and fair wages to workers, and ensures that all Americans have access to healthy food that they can afford. For more, go to: www.plateoftheunion.com.

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with citizens across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.