A Recipe for Justice: Support for a Federal Food Justice Interagency Working Group

Melanie Pugh


Systemic social justice issues are characterized as having complex and far-reaching causes. Food justice is one such an issue. Food justice is defined as “justice for all [people] in the food system,” from agricultural production to consumer products. Policies seeking to remedy systemic social justice issues often need to include the attention of many levels of government and coordination across multiple agencies to move issues forward. That is why finding a model for interagency collaboration that has evidenced success, especially over the long-term, is inspiring and worth mirroring.

This Comment compares food justice to the environmental justice movement, and proposes modeling a federal, interagency program to address food justice based on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Justice Interagency Working Group (EJ IWG). This Comment includes an overview of the food justice movement, and argues that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), despite its history of civil rights violations, would be the best federal agency to lead an interagency working group because it administers essential rural development and consumer programs. It also explores whether the model employed by the Environmental Protection Agency’s EJ IWG is a viable model for a food justice program at the USDA, and what features of the EJ IWG would suit such a food justice interagency working group.