In November 2020, voters chose their next President and Congress, creating the opportunity for food, farm, and social justice activists to shape a new federal food agenda. In preparation for the Institute’s December urban food policy forum (see more details about the event in this issue and here), we asked our community of newsletter subscribers – comprising policy advocates, academics, civil society groups, and concerned citizens – to weigh in with their views on the top priorities for federal action on food policy in 2021 and the next four years. The survey was active in the period November 5-December 8, 2020 and we received a little more than 100 responses. Below is a summary of some of the key results on each of the two questions the survey asked.

1. Top Priorities for Federal Action on Food Policy for 2021-2024

Survey respondents were asked to express their preference of the top priorities for federal action on food policy for 2021-2024 by ranking 10 different food policy actions with scores 1 (most important) to 5 (least important). Each respondent could assign each score to more than one policy priority which is why that the total percentage of respondents for each score exceeds hundred percent in the tables and figures that follow. The ten policies among which respondents could choose are shown in Box 1.

Survey respondents identified the top three priorities for the incoming federal administration ranked as shown below. These policies remained the top three also when “most important” and “very important” scores were added.

The chart below provides an overview of how respondents ranked the remaining seven policy priorities.

2. Top Priority for Federal Action on Food Policy in 2021

In addition to their priorities for federal action on food policy for the next four years, survey respondents were asked to express their opinion on the top priority for action in 2021. The question was open-ended, and respondents could provide a response in a free text format. In total, 87 out of 102 survey respondents (85%) provided answers to this question. Because some answers contained more than one recommendation, the total number of priorities exceeded the number of respondents and thus the total represented in the chart below exceeds hundred percent. Researchers thematically analyzed and coded each response which resulted in the identification of four crosscutting themes shown in the chart below. The themes and the share of responses each theme received are as follows: 1. Food Security (45%); 2. Healthy Nutrition (40%); 3. Food Labor and Local Food Economies (37%); and 4. Environmental Sustainability and Resilience (24%).

Compared to the priorities expressed for the period 2021-2024, those focusing on the coming year alone indicate a stronger desire for federal support for food security and the deepening of the SNAP program as well as investment in healthy diets and nutrition related policy measures, programs, and infrastructure.

By Rositsa T. Ilieva, Director of Food Policy Monitor, CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute