food policy

  • Melissa Vatterott, Food & Farm Director

    Rae Miller, Local Food Coordinator

    Tosha Phonix, Food Justice Organizer

    Our environment provides us with many natural resources and benefits, from the air we breathe and the water we drink to natural spaces that help us relax and reconnect with nature and each other. The food we eat is also a resource provided by our environment and, like air and water, is one that we all cannot live without. MCE believes that the food system is an integral part of our environment and that a healthy food system is both sustainable and equitable—it preserves the integrity of air, land, and water while producing abundant, healthy food that is accessible and affordable across all communities.

    However, people are disconnected from the food they eat. Most of the fruits and vegetables Missourians eat come from far away, due to our region’s focus on commodity farming—growing corn and soy mainly for livestock feed, processed food, and ethanol. In spite of our region’s rich soil, abundant water, and our ability to produce the fruits and vegetables we need, many communities, both urban and rural, are going hungry. People across the state are suffering severe health consequences due to inequitable distribution and affordability of healthy foods.

    We believe that to sustain a healthy environment and healthy communities across Missouri, we must work toward a future in which nutritious, locally produced food is accessible and affordable for everyone, and farmers can make a living wage producing it. Our Food and Farm Program is working toward this vision by convening and coordinating the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition, a group of people and organizations across the region united in their efforts to achieve such a future.

  • Thank you to all who participated in the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition's survey about growing food in the city! The survey is now closed. We were able to hear from 854 people from 75 of the city's 79 neighborhoods! Through this survey effort, we sought to learn from city residents: 1) what they and their neighbors are already growing, 2) what types of agriculture activities they would like to see in the city, and 3) how they would like those activities to be regulated. Five participants will receive a gift basket of food and farm swag from STLFPC members! We will use the survey responses to draft an urban agriculture ordinance that meets residents' needs and desires.
     
    We developed this survey with the assistance of Andy Bramman, a St. Louis University student, interning with MCE's Food and Farm Program this summer.
     

    The results are in!

    View results from the entire city here as well as the results for the neighborhoods in North CityCentral Corridor, and South City!
     
    See the survey results by ward below: 
     

    Click here to read our press release about the survey results. 

    Read articles from the St. Louis Post Dispatch and St. Louis Public Radio about the survey results. 

    Maps of the Survey Data

    Click to Zoom

     

    Alderwoman of the 19th Ward, a Champion for Food Access and Community Gardening

    Alderwoman Marlene Davis is committed to the issues expressed in the survey results above. Davis says, 

    "In neighborhoods with limited food access, residents must leave their neighborhood to access nutritious food. Many of these same neighborhoods have vacant lots, littering our neighborhoods with overgrown weeds and costing our taxpayers thousands to maintain. We can start to address both of these issues by organizing strategic plans for our communities, empowering residents to take back their vacant lots, put the land into productive use, and provide themselves and their neighbors with a source of healthy food."

    We thank her for her commitment to address food access and support food growing activities in the City of St. Louis!

     

  • PRESS RELEASE

    Contact: Melissa Vatterott, Food and Farm Coordinator, (314) 727-0600, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Date: December 8, 2015

    St. Louis, MO: Missouri Foundation for Health (MFH) has awarded Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE) a 23-month $120,000 advocacy grant to lead the new St. Louis Food Policy Coalition (STLFPC).

    Where food comes from, how it is grown, and the relationship between health and the environment are important concepts to MCE. MCE’s Food and Farm Coordinator Melissa Vatterott is raising awareness about the connections between agriculture, public health, and the environment. As the coordinating agency for the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition, MCE will advocate for and advance policies that will address gaps in the St. Louis region’s capacity to deliver healthy, fresh, sustainable, and accessible local food, with a specific emphasis on targeting communities with limited access to such food. Missouri Foundation for Health’s policy portfolio prioritizes “increasing health equity for all Missourians,” which is something Vatterott anticipates the work of STLFPC will foster.

    After the release of MCE’s St. Louis Regional Food Study a year ago, Vatterott conducted outreach to stakeholders for the first four months of 2015, bringing groups together to develop a set of policy initiatives and collaborative projects to address the food system needs of the St. Louis region.

    “To effectively advocate for the health, environmental, social justice, and economic needs of the entire St. Louis region, it’s important to include organizations throughout the 100 mile radius of St. Louis,” Vatterott says.

    Such a group has existed in St. Louis before, the St. Louis Food Policy Council, which began in 2010 and closed in 2012. The new group formed as a coalition in contrast to the former council in order to emphasize the collaboration of new stakeholders and new priorities, such as emphasizing local production within the food system.

    Mary Bolling, Nutrition Program Associate at MU Extension and steering committee member of STLFPC explains, “Supporting our local farmers through STLFPC works to support improved health, lesson the environmental impact, and contribute to the local economy. By eating with the seasons, we are eating foods when they are most flavorful, most abundant, and least expensive. Locally grown food is often tastier and more nutrient dense because it is allowed to ripen longer due to the fact that it doesn't have to travel thousands of miles before arriving at the store.”

    For more information, see the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition webpage (www.moenvironment.org/stlfoodpolicy).

    ​​

    ###

  • After releasing the St. Louis Regional Food Study in November 2014, Missouri Coalition for the Environment sought to bring experts and passionate individuals together from diverse interest groups to address the food system needs of the Greater St. Louis area. In St. Louis, there are many great, local efforts addressing hunger, food access, sustainable agriculture, nutrition, social justice, community and economic development. The St. Louis Food Policy Coalition seeks to bridge these efforts to form a coordinated, local food system. We seek to leverage the myriad efforts underway. The work of all of these efforts will be lifted by a strong, connected local food system. Specifically, we shall work to shape public policy and influence decision makers about local food systems and their connections to concerns of health equity, environmental conservation and restoration, social justice, community development, and economic development. Together, Steering Committee members shall build capacity to become a united advocacy bloc. This united advocacy bloc shall work collectively to make changethat will further the goals of all stakeholders involved.​

    Mission Statement

    Vision Statement

    To promote a thriving local food system that supports the health, community, environment, and economy of the Greater St. Louis area.

    A thriving local economy in the Greater St. Louis area where everyone has access to affordable, healthy food from local producers who are stewards of our soil, air, and water resources.

    Core Values

    Our Priorities

    • Community - Relationships, open communication, understanding, and collaboration among diverse stakeholders and between stakeholders and community members

    • Education and Empowerment - Opportunities and support for everyone in the Greater St. Louis area to improve their lives and communities

    • Equity - Geographic Access and Affordability of healthy, culturally relevant food for individuals in all socioeconomic components of the Greater St. Louis area

    • Health and Nutrition - Nutritious food, prioritizing whole foods without chemical or genetic additives

    • Sustainability and Environmental Stewardship - Local farmers and ranchers taking care of their land and policies that support sustainable land use in urban and rural communities. Based on SARE’s definition of “sustainability,” a sustainable food system must prioritize:

      • Stewardship of our region’s soil, air, and water

      • Quality of life for farmers, ranchers and their communities

      • Profit over the long term

      • Shorter supply chains to reduce the ecological footprint of our food system

    • Local - Production and availability of healthy food produced within a 100 mile radius of St. Louis, recognizing that supporting farmers within 150 miles will help to incorporate farms that are outside 100 mile radii of the nearby metropolitan areas, Chicago and Kansas City.

    • Economy - Businesses and individuals seeking to purchase healthy food from local farmers and ranchers, capturing more of our food dollars in the Greater St. Louis area.

    • Food Access and Public Transit Access
    • Land Access for Urban Agriculture
    • Institutional Local Food Purchasing

    Check out MCE's Interactive Local Foodshed Map! It is a great way to find local and environmentally responsible farmers in the St. Louis Regional Foodshed.

    STLFPC Brochure

    STLFPC is working with East/West Gateway on their food access goal to reduce by half the number of census tracks where 70% of residents are considered low income and low (food) access by 2027.The goal was drafted from the 2017 Sustainability Summit through One STL. Visit their food page to learn more.

    View the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition Membership page to learn more about the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition structure and the steering committee members.

    How to Get Involved

    For more information about how you or your organization can be involved in the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition, contact MCE Food and Farm Director, Melissa Vatterott, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 314-727-0600, ext. 111. 

  • STLFPC Member Organizations

    The St. Louis Food Policy Coalition is a group of stakeholders who represent organizations, businesses, farms, local government, and other entities that either 1) work to advance at least one of the core values or 2) work in the counties that the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition supports. The STLFPC functions as a formal multi-stakeholder entity.

    Coalition Allies

    Coalition Allies are organizations and individuals that have declared in writing, either by mailed letter or email communication, that they support the mission and vision statements of STLFPC and offer to provide resources to further the STLFPC’s goals, such as informational materials and support at events. Coalition Allies do not need to be willing to participate in grassroots lobbying or advocacy activities but they are welcome to participate in work group meetings as they see fit.

    Board of Advisors

    Advisors are individuals sought out by the Director, either with or without recommendation by other coalition members, that demonstrate particular expertise necessary to further the goals of STLFPC and who cannot participate in work groups given their geographic location, work schedule, or other conflict. The Director calls on the advisors for input, feedback, or other forms of assistance as needed.

    Work groups

    Steering Committee members and individuals in the community with related expertise and interest will come together to form workgroups to advance a policy or collaborative project initiative. The Steering Committee determines which initiatives the Coalition will lead and workgroups will be formed to take action on those initiatives. One or two Chairs will lead each workgroup and the role of Chair will be filled by a Steering Committee Member.

    Community Member Involvement

    STLFPC welcomes and encourages community members to join a work group, become a Coalition Ally, or attend public community meetings. Additionally, residents of North St. Louis interested in advancing strategies to address healthy food access in North St. Louis are encouraged to connect with our Food Equity Advisory Board. Email Food Justice Organizer, Tosha Phonix, for more information at tphonix@moenviron.org.

    Without the involvement of individuals who live in the communities we seek to support, we cannot ensure that our strategy and projects will benefit those communities. Thus, STLFPC finds it essential to support the involvement of community members and arrange our meeting times and spaces accordingly to maximize the involvement of interested community members.

     

    Current Coalition Members

    Matt Schindler, Gateway Greening

     

    Leslie Bertsch, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist

    MU Extension in St. Louis County

     
    Debi Kelly, Horticulture and Local Foods Specialist
    MU Extension in Jefferson County

     

    Ryan Albritton, Sprouthood 

     

    Trina Ragain, Operation Food Search

     

    Sara Hale, Fair Shares CCSA

     

    Lindsey Motto, EarthDance Farms

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Brian DeSmet, Fair Food Network

    Bonnie Harper, One STL

     

     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    Clare Higgins, Urban Harvest STL

     

     

     

    Lucas Signorelli, STL MetroMarket

     

     

     

    Rev. Audrey Hollis and Steve Hollis, United People Market

    Ellen Barnidge, Saint Louis University School for Public Health and Social Justice

       

    Gibron Jones, Holistic Organic Sustainable Cooperatives (HOSCO)

     

    Erica Willams, A Red Circle

     

     

     

     

    Rachelle Bartnick, American Heart Association

     

    Dana Giboney-Wallace, St. Louis County Health Department

     

     

    Craig Schmidt and Melba Moore, St. Louis City of Health

    James Forbes and James Hillis, Good Life Growing

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Becky Reinhart, DeSales Community Development

     

     

     

     

     

    Preston Walker, Eat Here St. Louis

    Clara Steyer, Washington University Office of Sustainability

     

     

     

    Kelly McGowan, Gateway Region YMCA

     

     

    Denise Evans, Slow Food 

     

    North Newstead Association, Matthew Moore

     

     

     

    Individual Members

    Lynn Peemoeller, Food Systems Planner

    Jenn DeRose, Program Manager and Communications Specialist for the Green Dining Alliance

     

     

     

    Current Coalition Allies

     

    Miranda Duschack, Lincoln University Cooperative Extension

     

    Jenny Connelly-Bowen, Community Builders Network

     

     

     

    BJC's Healthy Schools Healthy Communities

     

    City Greens Market

     

      

     

    For more information about how you or your organization can be involved in the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition, contact MCE Food and Farm Director, Melissa Vatterott, at mvatterott@moenviron.org or by phone at 314-727-0600, ext. 111. 

     
  • FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE     

    Date: December 13, 2017

    Contact: Melissa Vatterott, (314) 581-0561This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Survey Results Indicate New Policies Needed to Support Urban Agriculture in St. Louis City

     

    St. Louis, MO: Onsite sales of produce and eggs, allowing for more backyard chickens, and making it easier for city residents to purchase land for food production purposes are some of the recommended policy changes needed to enhance local agriculture according a survey by the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition. The survey was completed by 854 city residents in 75 of the city’s 79 neighborhoods. 

    “We conducted the survey to build a foundation for changing local food policy,” said Melissa Vatterott, director of the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition. “It is clear there are barriers standing in the way of accessing local, nutritious food and we intend to change that.”

    Nearly 100 people surveyed said they would like to sell either their produce or eggs from a stand in their yard or community garden. Of those who indicated encountering obstacles to gardening or farming in the city, 28% reported the inability to sell produce or eggs from their home or community garden as an issue for them.

    The City of St. Louis only allows four total animals on any given lot, including dogs, cats, chickens, and rabbits. 63% of the respondents are in favor of allowing more chickens and rabbits, with another 21% wanting to learn more. 

    “Small towns and big cities are addressing food access in ways that can be repeated here in St. Louis,” said Alderwoman Cara Spencer. “The results from this survey will be valuable for the next mayor and board of alderman to support agriculture policies that are responsive to our constituents.”  

    The most popular recommendation, with 77% support, is that the city needs to make it easier for, and give preference to, residents in the City of St. Louis to purchase land for food production purposes. In addition, of those who reported encountering land use obstacles to gardening or farming, more than half reported land prices are too high for just growing food, a quarter said residential tax rates are too high for just growing food, and nearly half reported LRA’s garden lease program as an obstacle because it does not guarantee the lots will not be purchased by someone else. 

     "Urban agriculture provides numerous benefits, including improving food access, beautifying neighborhoods, and providing economic opportunities for city residents," said Vatterott. "It's a tool we can use to address some of the environmental and social injustices seen in our city and we hope the next mayor will make it a priority." 

    “In most of our projects, the community garden often becomes more than just a place to grow food for the people in the neighborhood,” said Steve Hutchison, President of Revitalization 2000 and cofounder of The Ville Collaborative. “Nutrition education, how to garden, the science of gardening, and beautification help bring hope to distressed neighborhoods.” 

    Results from the survey are being released in the aggregate, by ward, and by region (north, central, south). 

    “The Department of Health looks forward to working with Alderwoman Ingrassia, the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, and the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition on the next steps to developing an urban agriculture policy that makes sense for our city,” said Melba Moore, acting director of the city’s Health Department.

    ###

    Click here to view the survey results. 

     

  • Source of image: ​​Don Keirstead,​​​ Riparian Buffer, ​Water Quality Photos, USDA​ NRCS, http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/nh/newsroom/photos/?cid=stelprdb1254775​.​

     

    Every five years, Congress rewrites the “Farm Bill”, a key piece of legislation that impacts our food, our soil and water quality, our health, and our wallets.

    The “Farm Bill” is a federal omnibus bill that covers a variety of food and farm-related concerns, and provides funding and support for various federal programs. Some of these programs directly affect agriculture, such as crop insurance, crop subsidies, and incentive programs for soil conservation practices. Other programs are indirectly related to agriculture, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP (formerly the Food Stamp Program) and various programs related to forestry, rural development, biofuel production, and food safety. The Farm Bill also influences the type of crops farmers produce, whether farmers choose to implement conservation practices on their land, the amount of financial support available to low income families to purchase food, and the type and price of food found on our grocer’s shelves.

    The Missouri Coalition for the Environment wants to help create a better “Farm Bill”, since it influences many aspects of our lives. From our stomachs to our taxes, it defines agricultural, environmental, and governmental practices. We want to create a better system that offers food security, fair markets, environmental stability, and finally, a stronger taxpayer voice. To take action on the 2018 Farm Bill, visit MCE's Farm Bill Action page

    The most recent Farm Bill, the “Agricultural Act of 2014,” is composed of the following twelve Titles, listed in order: CommodityConservationTradeNutritionCreditRural DevelopmentResearchForestryEnergyHorticultureCrop Insurance, and Miscellaneous. Some of the programs within each Title are mandatory programs that must be renewed with each Farm Bill; others do not, and are discretionary programs that can be approved or repealed each year. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2014, of the $145 billion annual federal budget for agricultural-related programs, $125 billion was for mandatory Farm Bill programs, but only $21 billion was for discretionary programs, inside and outside the farm bill.[1] Mandatory programs are those to which dedicating funding is required by Congress each year, while discretionary programs, though dedicating funds is authorized, are not required to receive a certain amount of funding- or any funding at all. Read more about the budget here.

    One important process to consider in relation to the Farm Bill budget is budget reconciliation, explained well here. Budget reconciliation is an optional congressional procedure used primarily as a means of reducing government spending for mandatory programs. It can be used to change current law to bring revenue and spending levels in line with the policies of the budget resolution. When the House and Senate Budget Committees include reconciliation language in their annual budget resolution, this language instructs authorizing committees to cut a certain amount of money from programs with direct spending in their jurisdiction. Budget resolutions can include assumptions about cuts to mandatory programs, but these "only have immediate practical relevance if budget reconciliation directives are included that force changes to be made. Otherwise they are just messaging points."[2]

     

     

    The funding distribution from recent farm bills has consistently prioritized large-scale production of crops used for livestock feed, processed foods, and ethanol- cornerstones of our agro-industrial complex. The Title I Commodity also provides monetary assistance to farmers producing commodity crops, such as corn, wheat, soy, and cotton, among others.  This assistance program creates a financial disincentive to grow healthier and more useful foods, such as fruits and vegetables, which the USDA terms specialty crops.  The differences in classifications of commodity and specialty crops are detailed here. The 2012 U.S Census of Agriculture estimated that 3.5% of the nation’s cropland was used for fruits and vegetables that year, compared to 3.3% in 2007 and 3% in 2002. Missouri has soil that is conducive for the growing of fruits and vegetables, but much of this farmland is not currently being used for fruit and vegetable production or being handled with environmental stewardship.

    “Commodity crops such as corn, soybean, wheat, rice and cotton are subsequently used to mass-produce processed, nutrient-deficient foods like Twinkies, Coca Cola, hot dogs, salad dressings, and even vitamins at lower rates and more availability than fresh foods. Consequently, Americans have faced skyrocketing rates of obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related health problems. These problems are more severe in marginalized communities of color and for low-income vulnerable populations.

    In addition to the disincentives in the Farm Bill to produce fruits and vegetables, the Commodity Title and Crop Insurance Title discourage sustainable agriculture practices. Unless growing on land classes as “highly erodible” or “wetland” farmers are not required to utilize soil conservation practices as a condition for receiving payments under their insurance policies in the event of a natural disaster causing losses in revenue or yield, so they try to maximize their yield of commodity crops by planting “fence row to fence row.” This negatively impacts long-term agricultural productivity by removing natural protections against soil erosion and degradation.

    Shifting agriculture priorities away from commodity crop monocultures and emphasizing conservative farming techniques and fruit and vegetable production would likely provide greater opportunity for many Americans to meet the USDA recommended daily requirements of each food group.

    It is important to note that, while the Farm Bill allocates funds for various programs over a five-year period, the amount allocated for each year does not always remain the same. The FY 2016 budget introduced large cuts to the Conservation Title, reducing the Conservation and Forestry allocation from $11.2 billion to $10.48 billion through measures such as a 23 per cent reduction in funding for EQIP and a 30 percent reduction to the Conservation Stewardship Program.  The FS 2017 budget does not introduce additional cuts, but the Conservation and Forestry allocation holds at $10.57 billion.

    Those and further proposed cuts would weaken our first line of defense in preparing for extreme weather events, translate to more water pollution and less wildlife habitat, and drive up long-term costs for environmental mitigation. Reductions to these vital programs would threaten our nation's food security.

    In May 2015, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, an organization in which MCE is a member, wrote a letter urging the House Agriculture Appropriations Committee not to reopen the Farm Bill and reduce more funding. MCE signed onto this letter in full support of preserving funding for conservation programs. Read the full letter here

    The Farm Bill has potential to be a sustainable and healthy food bill if it prioritizes programs that promote public health, soil conservation practices, and greater access to healthy food. To keep updated on MCE’s work on these issues, subscribe to our food, farm, and water e-alerts. Join MCE in the fight to better our food industry and environment.

     

    [1]Monke, Jim. Budget Issues that Shaped the 2014 Farm Bill.  April 10, 2014. Congressional Research Service.  http://nationalaglawcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/assets/crs/R42484.pdf

    [2] The Farm Bill Reloaded.  March 13, 2015.  National Sustainable Agroculture Coalition.  http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/the-farm-bill-reloaded/

  • Eat, Drink, & Shop Local!

    The St. Louis Food Policy Coalition has put together a list of restaurants, breweries, and stores in St. Louis that specialize in sourcing most of their ingredients and items for sale from local farmers. Check out our guide below and start eating, drinking, and shopping local today!


    On the go and want to know which restaurant, brewery, or store is closest to you?
    Check out our Local Food Resources Guide in map form below!

     

    For a more extensive map of all things "local food" in the region, including gardens, farms, farmers markets, and all restaurants and stores that we know of that source locally, check out MCE's Interactive Local Foodshed Map

Login Form