Via the Mississippi Delta Project Spring 2017 Newsletter

Food Policy Team

For the past few years, the Food Policy Team has been working to strengthen the Farm to School movement in Mississippi. Through Farm to School programs, schools purchase food from local producers to feature on their menus and use in classroom activities. Farm to School seeks to improve child nutrition, teach children about agriculture and healthy diets, and build relationships between schools and local farmers. Last year, we conducted a 50 state survey, interviewed stakeholders in Mississippi and around the country, and compiled a report identifying recommendations which could be adopted in Mississippi.

This year, we have been working on narrowing in on particular recommendations and turning them into reality. In the Fall of 2016, we carried out a series of projects on behalf of the Mississippi Farm to School Network (MFSN). These included a pamphlet summarizing our recommendations for strengthening the Farm to School movement in Mississippi, a survey of the recommendations, and a series of interviews with interested stakeholders. The goal of these projects was to identify which recommendations would be most valuable and feasible in bolstering farm to school.

In the Spring of 2017, our team has three primary objectives. First, we will complete a legislative advocacy toolkit to assist MFSN in advancing farm to school legislation. This toolkit will include, information on how the legislative process works in Mississippi, as well as how advocates can affect and direct it. Second, we will write a short report analyzing how other states have utilized relationships with University Extensions in their Farm to School programs. Finally, we will encourage the Mississippi Department of Education to issue a guidance promoting the use of the Mississippi Farm Food Safety Checklist. The checklist is intended to be a substitute for costly formal food safety certifications, and its widespread use could help remove administrative costs that make it difficult for small farmers to sell to schools.

Student Spotlight

Sarah Atkins, 1L
Hometown: Lexington, KY

Sarah Atkins, 1L

Sarah Atkins, 1L

Sarah Atkins is a first-year law student on the Food Policy Team. Having grown up in Kentucky, she was excited for an opportunity to stay connected to the South. Sarah joined the Food Policy Team because it fit naturally with her lifelong interest in childhood nutrition.

“Food policy is such a critical area of law,” she says, “It has the potential to help a phenomenal number of people, especially children.”

Prior to law school, Sarah earned a bachelor’s degree in English from
Yale University. During college, she managed a charity bookstore whose proceeds supported local homeless shelters, and she taught sex ed to girls living in orphanages in Vietnam. After graduating, Sarah worked for two years as a paralegal in New York, which confirmed her interest in the law.

At law school, in addition to the Food Policy Team, Sarah participates in the Journal on Legislation. While she is not exactly sure what she will be doing after law school, it will likely involve healthcare law and the South.

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