Skip to main content
ClearingHouse Community Menu ≡

Does the Local Food Movement Help or Hurt Low-Income Americans?

Americans are debating what food we should be eating. But is the local food movement harmful for Americans who are food insecure? For the 40.3 Americans who received SNAP benefits in 2010, does pushing people to eat sustainable, locally produced food take resources away from getting the most food to the most people possible at the lowest possible price?

Clearinghouse Review's 2012 special issue webinar tackled the tough questions that lurk in the intersection between food insecurity and the local food movement. A panel of experts from across the country discussed whether the local food movement helps or hurts low-income Americans and offered suggestions for how advocates can help their clients get the nutritious food they need to thrive. 



Susan Schneider

Professor of Law
University of Arkansas

Professor Susan Schneider teaches agricultural and food law courses and serves as the Director of the LL.M. Program in Agricultural & Food Law at the University of Arkansas School of Law.  She is the author of the casebook, Food, Farming & Sustainability: Readings in Agricultural Law (Carolina Press 2011).  Her scholarly publications include articles related to food system policy, farm finance, agricultural bankruptcy, agricultural policy, sustainability, and women in agriculture.

Professor Schneider is a significant contributor to the agricultural law blog on the Jurisdynamics Network, and manages the blog of the LL.M. in Agricultural & Food Law.  Her Twitter account for the LL.M. Program is followed by many interested in agricultural and food law issues. She is a frequent speaker at agricultural and food law conferences.

Professor Schneider’s entire legal career has been focused on agricultural law and food law issues.  Her private practice experience includes agricultural law work with firms in Minnesota, North Dakota, and Washington, D.C.  She served as a staff attorney at Farmer's Legal Action Group, Inc. (FLAG) and now serves on the FLAG Board of Directors.  In addition to teaching at the University of Arkansas School of Law, she has taught agricultural law and related subjects at William Mitchell College of Law in Minnesota and at the Drake University Summer Agricultural Law Institute in Iowa. She is a past president of the American Agricultural Law Association and the recipient of its 2010 Distinguished Service Award.

Professor Schneider graduated with a B.A. from the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota (Phi Beta Kappa, Pi Gamma Mu). She earned her J.D., cum laude, from the University of Minnesota School of Law and her LL.M. in Agricultural Law in from the University of Arkansas School of Law.

Dan Lesser

Director, Economic Justice

Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law

Dan Lesser has been a senior attorney with the Shriver Center’s public benefits unit since 1996 and currently serves as the Director of Economic Security. He specializes in child care and early education, immigrant access to public benefits, the TANF program, tax and budget issues, and climate change issues. Dan helped design the Illinois child care assistance program for low-income working parents in 1997 and since then has led several successful efforts to improve that program through changes in governing laws and program policies and increases in funding. Dan received Action for Illinois Children’s Unsung Hero award in 2002 for his work. He has also played a leading role in coalitions that have succeeded in restoring immigrants’ access to public benefits that was lost pursuant to the 1996 federal welfare law. Dan is also in charge of the Shriver Center’s annual Congressional Poverty Scorecard project. Before joining the Center, Dan worked at the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago for eight years after graduating from Northwestern University School of Law in 1984.

Jessica Bartholow

Legislative Advocate

Western Center on Law and Poverty

Jessica Bartholow is a legislative advocate at the Western Center on Law and Poverty with over a decade of experience in anti-poverty and anti-hunger advocacy and program development.  Before joining Western Center over two years ago, Jessica worked for the California Association of Food Banks, where she built a statewide network of food stamp advocates and application assisters as well as a statewide food bank nutrition education program.  She has been a leading anti-hunger advocate in the federal reauthorization of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) during both the 2008 and 2012 Farm Bill. As chairperson of the California Hunger Action Coalition for four years, she led several legislative actions including an early budget coalition opposing cuts to safety-net programs and partial removal of California’s lifetime ban on SNAP for former drug felons.  Jessica has co-authored several advocate and program guides on the topics of hunger, poverty and improving nutritional options for low-income Californians, including the Advocate’s Guide to Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) in CaliforniaFarm to Family Out the Door: A Food Banks Guide to Produce Distribution, and Banking on Better Health: A Case Study Report of the California Association of Food Banks Nutrition Education Program. Jessica holds a Master’s Degree in Political Science and is the 2012 recipient of the Wellstone – Wheeler Anti-hunger Advocate of the Year Award.

Emily Broad Leib

Senior Clinical Fellow in the Harvard Law School Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation and director of the Center's Food Law and Policy Clinic

Emily Broad Leib is a Senior Clinical Fellow in the Harvard Law School Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation and directs the Center's Food Law and Policy Clinic. The Food Law and Policy Clinic works with nonprofit organizations and government agencies to recommend food laws and policies aimed at increasing access to healthy foods and assisting small farmers and producers in participating in food markets. Emily supervises Harvard Law students engaged in these projects and co-teaches (with Clinical Professor Robert Greenwald) a course entitled “Food: A Health Law and Policy Seminar.” Prior to her current position, Emily served as the Joint Harvard Law School/Mississippi State University Delta Fellow and worked with community members and outside partners to forge programmatic and policy responses aimed at improving public health and economic opportunity in the Mississippi Delta, with a focus on the food system. Emily received her B.A. from Columbia University in 2003 and her J.D. from Harvard Law School, cum laude, in 2008. She is a licensed member of the bar of New York.

Valerie McWilliams

Senior Supervisory Attorney

Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation

Valerie McWilliams graduated from the University of Illinois College of Law in 1982, and has worked at the Champaign office of Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation for 28 years, serving  as managing attorney for 18 years.  Currently a senior supervisory attorney, her work focuses on health related cases and a variety of community development projects.  Examples of such collaborative projects:  helping to start a farmers market in a low income neighborhood, helping to start a neighborhood farm  focused on youth education and employment, starting a non-profit car dealership, promoting alternatives to payday lending and  asset building initiatives, and serving on a hospital community coalition to improve  charity care policies.  Valerie has been awarded the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois Esther Rothstein Award, community service awards from the Illinois State Bar Association and the East Central Illinois Women Attorneys Association, the Distinguished Citizen Award by the Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities in Illinois, and the Beautiful Person Award by the Urban League of Champaign County.   


↑ Go up to the top.