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The Food Law and Policy Clinic of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation was established in 2010 to address growing concerns about the health, environmental, and economic consequences of the laws and policies that structure the U.S. food system. Under the supervision of FLPC attorneys, Harvard Law students get hands-on learning experience by conducting legal and policy research for individual and organizational clients working to increase access to healthy foods, prevent diet-related diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, and assist small and sustainable farmers in breaking into new commercial markets. Students have the opportunity to develop a range of problem-solving, policy analysis, research and writing, oral communication, and leadership skills.
Students have the opportunity to work on a range of federal, state, and local law and policy projects in areas such as:
- Increasing access to healthy produce for low-income individuals, recipients of food benefit programs, and those living in “food deserts”;
- Fostering small-scale producer’ sales to grocery stores, restaurants, schools, state agencies, and institutions by identifying and eliminating legal and non-legal barriers;
- Advising state, local, and tribal food policy councils through legal and policy research to help these advocates expand their influence on community, state, or regional food systems;
- Assessing food safety laws and policies at all levels of government and recommending reform that would increase economic opportunities for small-scale local producers, including working with state governments to allow for the in-home production of certain low-risk food products;
- Analyzing laws and policies that impact the treatment and prevention of type 2 diabetes at the federal and state level, with particular focus on access to health care, the food environment, and opportunities for physical activity;
- Supporting farmers markets in rural or low-income areas, including breaking down barriers to the use of SNAP (food stamps) and WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program food benefits at markets;
- Identifying and recommending changes to state and local administration of food benefit programs, such as SNAP, WIC, school meals programs, and USDA Foods, to help increase food security and ensure efficient use of these programs;
- Promoting healthy school environments by investigating and recommending best practices regarding school food, nutrition education, and physical activity; and
- Analyzing causes of food waste in the U.S. and internationally and pushing for legal and policy reforms that would decrease the high rates of unnecessary food waste in U.S. grocery stores and homes.
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While the primary offices of the Food Law and Policy Clinic are at the Legal Services Center in Jamaica Plain, the clinic has an on-campus office in the WCC clinic wing, where students meet with clinic staff and conduct the majority of their clinical work. There are also frequent opportunities to travel both within and outside Massachusetts to work with clients and partners.
For registration information, see the 2014-2015 clinical curriculum.
Emily Broad Leib (Director, Food Law and Policy Clinic; Clinical Instructor; Lecturer on Law)
Robert Greenwald (Director, Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation; Clinical Professor of Law)
Ona Balkus (Clinical Fellow)
Alli Condra (Clinical Fellow)
Emily Broad Leib