July / 2017

Rhode Island Releases Food Strategy

On May 17, Rhode Island released its new five-year Food Strategy Plan, which is built around five action goals:

1. alleviate food insecurity and hunger throughout the state;

2. make food production more accessible;

3. create and sustain markets for Rhode Island food products;

4. promote environmental sustainability; and

5. support an economic climate friendly to food-related businesses.

The plan has been a goal for the state since 2011, when JMF grantee the Rhode Island Food Policy Council was founded. Since then, state leaders and local innovators have developed many initiatives to support food producers and provide more opportunities for all Rhode Islanders to access healthy food.  A year ago, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo hired Susan Anderbois as Director of Food Strategy, the first position of its kind in the country.

Rhode Island’s food sector supports over 60,000 local jobs, and generated $2 billion in sales for restaurants in 2016.  However, only 1 percent of the food consumed by state residents is harvested locally and 35 percent of waste is made up of food and compostable material. Moreover, 12 percent of Rhode Islanders are considered “food insecure.”

The Rhode Island Food Policy Council is creating a series of multimedia stories to bring the reality of what it’s like to work in, and be fed by, Rhode Island’s food system day to day.  The first story features fantastic interviews with dairy farmers in the state, who are being squeezed economically, and the second features senior citizens visited by the mobile food truck Food on the Move, which makes fresh, local produce available to those facing food insecurity.

“I feel such optimism about our state’s food strategy, [and] we need everyone’s energy and ideas,” said Janet Coit, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM). “My most treasured traditions involve food; for example, summer doesn’t start for me until I go strawberry picking with my daughter, Nina. Today, I think we will look for an outcome where every Rhode Islander will have those experiences and have an opportunity to eat healthy, local food.”

July / 2017

Toxic Industrial Chemicals Found in 10 Varieties of Macaroni and Cheese Powders

On National Macaroni and Cheese Day, National Coalition Urges Kraft Heinz to Lead the Industry by Pledging to Eliminate Any and All Sources of Phthalates

July 13, 2017—Laboratory testing of 10 varieties of macaroni and cheese products has revealed toxic industrial chemicals (known as phthalates) in the cheese powders of all of them, according to the Coalition for Safer Food Processing & Packaging, a national alliance of leading public health and food safety groups.

In recognition of National Macaroni and Cheese Day tomorrow, the coalition has issued a call to The Kraft Heinz Company—the dominant seller of boxed macaroni and cheese, with 76 percent of market share—to drive industry-wide change by eliminating any sources of phthalates that may end up in its cheese products. Detailed information and a public petition are available here.

“Serving up one of America’s favorite comfort foods shouldn’t mean exposing your children and family to harmful chemicals,” said Mike Belliveau, executive director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center, a coalition member.  Other JMF grantees, including Earthjustice, Ecology Center, Healthy Babies Bright Futures, Learning Disabilities Association of America, Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, Safer States, and Toxic-Free Future are also members.

Two million boxes of macaroni and cheese are sold every day in the United States.