Food Tank

Jeremiah Lowery on Food Policy

Jeremiah Lowery, member of the D.C. Food Policy Council, discusses his hopes for the D.C. food system and how to engage young people in the process.

Jeremiah Lowery, member of the D.C. Food Policy Council, will be speaking at Food Tank’s fourth annual Washington, D.C. Summit, “Cultivating the Next Generation of Young Food Leaders,” which will be held on February 28, 2018 in partnership George Washington University, World Resources Institute, the National Farmers Union, Future Farmers of America, and the National Young Farmers Coalition.  

Lowery currently serves as the Director of the Universal Childcare NOW D.C. Coalition in addition to his membership on the D.C. Food Policy Council. Graduating from the University of Maryland in 2008, he became involved in labor activism and has organized on issues spanning from workers’ rights to food justice.

Food Tank sat down with Lowery to discuss his aspirations for food policy and youth involvement on food issues.

Food Tank (FT): What originally inspired you to get involved in your work?

Jeremiah Lowery (JL): Food insecurity was a recurring theme in my life while my family struggled with homelessness. Growing up in Washington, D.C. and seeing the disorganization of the food system in my community encouraged me to become involved to ensure others did not have the same experience.

FT: How are you helping to build a better food system?

JL: I am currently working on legislation to extend childcare access to all parents in the District of Columbia. The D.C. area has a growing food service sector and the most expensive childcare system in the United States.  Too many food service workers in the District of Columbia, who are a vital part of our food system, have to choose between going to work and caring for a sick child. With this legislation, I am working to ensure that all parents in the District of Columbia have the childcare access they need., including access to overnight childcare services. Additionally, I am also running for local office, DC Council At Large, as a food justice advocate.

FT: What’s the most pressing issue in food and agriculture that you’d like to see solved?

JL: We need to develop more intersectional policy to bring various food-related sectors and actors together. For example,  the Good Food Purchasing Program brings together environmentalists, animal rights advocates, labor advocates, and nutritionists to develop procurement policies for local communities.

FT: What innovations in food and agriculture are you most excited about?

JL: I love innovations that aim to reduce food waste in a wide variety of institutions including restaurants and schools. Reducing waste in our institutions can save small businesses money as well as provide potential opportunities to feed our community and have a positive impact on the environment.

FT: What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

JL: Engage in local politics. Call, email, and show up at community meetings to push our local city council, board of education, mayors, and other elected officials to do more to improve the local food system.

FT: What is the best opportunity for young or aspiring farmers and entrepreneurs to get a foothold in America’s agricultural future?

JL: Young and aspiring farmers and entrepreneurs can get a foothold in America’s agricultural by listening to their elders and partnering with a mentor in the food and farming sectors. Veteran farmers and entrepreneurs hold key information about the successes and failures of the food movement. It is important for us to find support from those have walked the path before us.

FT: How can we best stimulate young people’s curiosity about food and agriculture and encourage their participation in building healthier food systems?

JL: We can encourage young people’s interest by offering engaging food policy classes at all grade levels, from kindergarten to grade 12.

The D.C. Food Tank Summit is SOLD OUT but tickets remain for our next two Summits. Register HERE for the Seattle Food Tank Summit, Growing Food Policy on March 17. Register HERE for the Boston Food Tank Summit, Exploring the Paradox of Hunger and Obesity on April 19. These events will sell out – register today! 


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