International effects on and inspiration for community food security policies and practices in the USA

Anne C. Bellows, Michael W. Hamm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


How food security is defined and implemented impacts on public health. The authors argue that the potential to improve food security policy and practice lies foremost in the capacity of a populace to define and demand change rather than in a bureaucracy's readiness to change. This paper introduces a dialogue on food security and rights at two levels, the international and the US community scales, and discusses how they are contingent. The international situation is marked by tension between conflicting post-Second World War trends: on the one hand, to actualize a United Nations (UN) covenant on the human right to food into food security programs and policy that have been decentralized to more local scales and, on the other hand, to centralize-or globalize-the economic markets that manipulate food production, distribution and access. Since the mid-1990s, US activists and researchers have organized at the community level to challenge food policies in the state and marketplace. This diverse collective, from ranchers to soup kitchen volunteers, and nutritionists to restaurateurs, are developing a common frame of reference about the structural constraints to economic security and the necessary organizing goals to leverage policy changes. The authors maintain that global-scale food security debates influence local actors. International human rights covenants, for example, buoy local visions for social justice and enhanced public health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-123
Number of pages17
JournalCritical Public Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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