Listservs for Self-education

There are many food-and-farm listservs, serving different geographies, different food system components, and different policy agendas.  The ones that I have found most useful and complementary to each other are the following:

6262 members
national, North American, some international
Tufts University group (not publicly archived, self-moderated)
All-purpose community food security (food-and-farm systems); probably the oldest and largest listserv

10,000 members
national, North American, some international
Tufts University group (not publicly archived, self-moderated)
Job postings only (no “seeking jobs” posting)

Food Policy Networks – FPN
1077 members
Johns Hopkins Univ. group (publicly archived, not self-moderated, anyone can post)
Supports food policy councils, local and state policy-making

North American Food Systems Network – NAFSN
Cornell University (not sure if it’s publicly archived – a new group, self-moderated)
Supports professional development for food systems people

Women, Food, and Agriculture Network – WFAN
372 members
Google Group (publicly archived, self-moderated)
Supposedly national, but still predominantly Midwest; WFAN is based in Ames, Iowa

GoodGreens – not a listserv but an essential e-list for the Midwest
6 Midwest states (IL, IN, WI, MN, OH, MI)
USDA Food & Nutrition Service, Midwest Office (downtown Chicago)
Contact: Alan Shannon, Public Affairs Director, is the facilitator
Monthly networking meeting and twice monthly newsletter

Illinois Farmers Market Assn. – IFMA
97 members
Google Group (publicly archived, self-moderated)
all 300+ farmers markets in Illinois, concentrating on the managers

Illinois Local Food and Farms Coalition – ILFFC
253 members
Yahoo Group (publicly archived, self-moderated)
statewide, all-purpose; created in 2007 to support the Illinois Food, Farms, and Jobs Acts and all future statewide food-and-farm policy

Advocates for Urban Agriculture – AUA
2104 members
Greater Chicago
Google Group (publicly archived, self-moderated)
all-purpose food-and-farm systems listserv

Chicago Weed Ordinance

Sustain Evanston
130 members
Google Group (publicly archived, self-moderated, anyone can post)
Supports partnership of City of Evanston with Citizens Greener Evanston around entire sustainability agenda

Making Food a Campaign Issue 

If candidates in your district are not currently running on a food plank, is it possible for grassroots groups to quickly educate candidates and help them craft a food plank?

These resource pages are designed to help any group in any district craft a simple plan for getting a candidate’s attention and commitment to food as a federal policy issue.

Chronologically, the basic stages of a candidate’s engagement are:

1. Listening to your group’s food concerns
2. Understanding that food system issues are broad-based, maximum-leverage, bipartisan issues that connect to every newspaper headline
3. Addressing food system concerns in a concrete, public way, e.g.:

  • attend a food system event (panel discussion, roundtable, film+discussion)
  • host a food system listening session
  • write an op-ed piece about food (to gauge public response)

4. Committing to food as a campaign issue, such as

  • identify food as a minor campaign issue: posting 1-2 sentences on campaign website
  • identify food as a major campaign issue: posting a paragraph or more on campaign website

5. Becoming a champion of food system issues:

  • have a food system expert as a senior campaign team member (volunteer or staff)
  • craft a “white paper” on food issues (1 page fact sheet)
  • make food a primary topic of every stump speech
  • identify action items if elected

to make food a campaign issue in your district in any election involves:

A. Preparation

1. Identify a core group of people in your district who are concerned about food issues and who want to make food a campaign issue
2. Self-educate as a group, if necessary, about:

  • food system issues
  • candidate(s): track record, hot button issues (for and against), personal connections to food issues

3. Identify 3-5 food concerns that:

  • group is passionate about
  • group can articulate in a 1-page fact sheet
  • group can answer questions that a candidate might ask about

B. Getting your candidate’s attention on food issues

Depending on how comfortable you are approaching your candidate(s) and/or whether you and the candidate(s) are already acquainted, there are two basic ways to get the ball rolling:

1. Informal

  • At a campaign event (attended by one or all candidates), ask a food-related question. (If the opportunity arises, you and your group can ask multiple food-related questions.)
  • Staffmember. Getting to know a member of the candidate’s staff can be very helpful. Often a staffmember already has an interest in food as a political issue. Most people are happy to learn about food system issues.

2. Formal. Ask for a group meeting with candidate (public or private) to:

  • Articulate group’s food concerns
  • Ask candidate what it would take for him/her to make food a campaign issue
  • Seek to discover candidate’s deeper interests and motivations

C. Getting a candidate to commit to making food a campaign issue

1. Follow-up on the initial contact to gauge candidate’s interest
2. Be prepared to offer some help
to the candidate:

  • Identify other constituents who might have food concerns
  • Draft a statement for the candidate’s website, campaign literature
  • Host a coffee or meeting to help the candidate draft a statement and/or plan some outreach about food issues