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Center for a Livable Future

Center for a Livable Future

Maryland senators turn backs on the hungry

Senator Ben Cardin (D–Md.)

On Tuesday, May 28, 2013, the Baltimore Sun ran this letter to the editor, authored by CLF director Bob Lawrence:

Recently, The Sun drew attention to the rise of poverty and hunger in our region (“Poor people in Balto.’s suburbs outnumber those in city,” May 21) while Maryland’s senators turned their backs on those who need help buying food. I was saddened and disappointed by the failure of U.S. Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin to do the right thing for our at-risk neighbors and friends. Our senators voted against the farm bill amendment that would have restored the $4 billion in cuts to the food stamp program, or SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and help strengthen our fraying safety net. Read More >

Newest recipient of the Cynthia and Robert Lawrence Scholarship

Cynthia Lawrence, Sadie Barr (2013 scholarship recipient), and Bob Lawrence

The Center welcomes incoming MPH student Sadie Barr into its fold. Sadie is the 2013 recipient of the Cynthia and Robert Lawrence Scholarship, which provides tuition assistance to MPH students at the Bloomberg School of Public Health whose public health interests have a direct bearing on the priorities and focus of the Center .

Sadie is looking forward to focusing her academic work on the issue of food access, and how it intersects with food choices, nutrition, and health. Read More >

Op-Ed in the Baltimore Sun: Nutrient Trading a Dirty Deal for the Bay

On Sunday, the Baltimore Sun ran an opinion piece co-authored by CLF director Robert Lawrence, in which he criticizes the nutrient trading, or pollution trading, scheme proposed by the EPA for Chesapeake Bay cleanup.

In the essay, Dr. Lawrence explains that nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus are major culprits in the pollution that creates dead zones, algal blooms, and higher levels of bacteria that are harmful to people, and that elevated nutrient levels can also lead to the proliferation of harmful algae and pathogenic microorganisms like Vibrio bacteria, cryptosporidium and giardia. “Nutrients and other agricultural pollutants pose a serious public health problem,” writes Lawrence. “A nutrient trading (or pollution trading) scheme is not an effective response. Policymakers should instead focus their energy on better enforcement of existing regulations that address the discharge of waste into our bay.”

To read the op-ed in the Baltimore Sun, click here.

Ten Maryland Educators Will Implement Food System Projects

Today, the Center announced the 10 winners of the Teaching the Food System (TFS) Grants for Educators program. The funds will help teachers implement innovative food systems–related projects in conjunction with the TFS curriculum, which they will integrate into their high school classrooms. All 10 recipients teach in public schools in Baltimore City and other Maryland counties.

Some of the projects include the construction of greenhouses and raised garden beds, vermicomposting, field trips, and a micro-economy that grows, cans, and sells fresh food products, among others.

Educators teach a variety of classes, from biology to algebra to family and consumer sciences. Grant winners from Baltimore City schools hail from Baltimore Montessori Public Charter Middle School, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, and Digital Harbor High School. There are seven winners from schools in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Howard, Prince George’s, and Worcester counties.

The Grants for Educators program, which is intended to enable teachers to conduct special innovative education activities and become early adopters of CLF’s newly developed TFS curriculum, was announced this March, at a Creative Alliance film screening of Out to Pasture: The Future of Farming? and BFED: Baltimore Food Ecology Documentary.

Disappointment with USDA’s Decision on Meatless Monday

From a statement issued today by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

On Friday, Michael J. Klag, MD, MPH, dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, wrote to Secretary Vilsack of USDA to express his disappointment with his agency’s recent retraction of a Meatless Monday endorsement.

In the letter, Dean Klag offered reasons why an endorsement of Meatless Monday is pro-agriculture and would benefit the health of Americans. He also offered to provide the agency with data about the goals of the Meatless Monday campaign. Read More >

Important letter to House Agriculture Committee

The House Agriculture Committee began marking up the farm bill this morning. As we’ve described in past posts, this bill has significant implications for public health. CLF sent the letter (below) to the House Agriculture Committee, emphasizing important changes needed in the bill in order to protect and promote health. Specific amendments that address some of these issues are being supported by the Community Food Security Coalition, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, and others. Please take a moment to get informed –  and take action!

Here’s the letter sent by Bob Lawrence to members of the House and their staff: Read More >

How Do Economics Shape Food, Faith and the Future?

Last week, Sylvia Nasar, author of Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius, addressed the issue of economics as it relates to food systems and the future, at the sixth session of the Baltimore Food and Faith Project’s Enoughness series. Complex and massive, the topic garnered a number of diverse responses. Here are two contrasting written responses, excerpted from attendees of the session.

Avram I. Reisner, PhD, rabbi of Congregation Chevrei Tzedek, Baltimore:

Sylvia Nasar gave an important presentation for us to hear, this morning, precisely because it so represented economic orthodoxy and failed to grapple with the very issues we are convened to consider. … We must be thankful for and preserve those gains [from the Industrial Revolution], no doubt. But her prescription for the future was continued productivity gain through the free market. And I, and I think all of us, question whether that is a reasonable prescription for the future. She presumes a continued escalator; that productivity can and will rise in the future as it has in the past. Is that likely? … Granting that humankind was not producing enough before the Industrial Revolution, are we now, and should we now remain in thrall to the old orthodoxy that rapid productivity growth is necessary? Read More >

Visualizer Shows Farm Bill Spending

The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future has launched the Farm Bill Budget Visualizer, an innovative web-based application that allows visual analysis of Farm Bill spending since the 2008 Farm Bill.

The Budget Visualizer uses “treemap” technology, a method of displaying spending data as nested rectangles, which allows users to “see” the proportion of federal funding received by Farm Bill programs. The application, developed in partnership with the Hive Group, is intended as an educational aid for the general public, advocacy groups, and policymakers who wish to better understand the relationships among public health and other priorities, and federal spending in the Farm Bill. Read the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s news release announcing the Farm Bill Budget Visualizer. Read More >

Op-ed in the Baltimore Sun: A Fresh Idea for the Farm Bill

Today the Baltimore Sun ran an opinion piece co-authored by CLF director Robert Lawrence, Holly Freishtat, and Tom Albright. The piece proposed a win-win for farmers and SNAP (food stamp) participants: Supply farmers’ markets with electronic benefit transfer (EBT) machines so that people can spend their SNAP dollars at those markets. The essay makes an appeal especially to Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), who sits on the Super Committee that may have sway over Farm Bill re-authorization.

To read the op-ed in the Baltimore Sun, click here., a daily agricultural news review excerpted the op-ed. Read More >