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Food Insecurity, Hunger, Local Food Movements Among UW Consumer Issues Conference Topics

September 3, 2014
Cook standing at counter
Michael Jacobson, executive director of the center for Science in the Public interest, will open the Consumer Issues Conference Thursday, Oct. 9, at UW.

Hunger, food deserts (not desserts), deceptive food product claims, local foods movements and a congressman who tries to live on food stamps should provide food for thought at the 14th Consumer Issues Conference at the University of Wyoming.

“Food: Perceptions, Practices and Policies” is scheduled Oct. 8-10 at the Wyoming Union.

There are three tracks: “Local Food,” “Legal and Ethical Food Policy Issues” and “Global/National Food Markets,” says Dee Pridgen, one of the organizers, a presenter and the Carl M. Williams Professor in the UW College of Law.

National efforts to combat childhood and adult obesity, and an awareness of excessive food waste that has spurred food recovery programs, are part of the program.

“We wanted to shine a light on these efforts and show how this idea could be applied locally and regionally,” Pridgen says.

USDA school nutrition guidelines that try to get children to eat more nutritious foods are another recent controversy, she says. Audrey Rowe, USDA Food and Nutrition Service administrator, will participate with local representatives to discuss the issues.

Efforts to reduce food waste have led to food recovery programs. Samantha Brant of Cowboy Food for the Community of Laramie, works with Associate Professor Christine Porter in the UW Department of Kinesiology and Health to find a way to have the UW Dining and Catering services participate in food recovery. Both Brant and Porter are scheduled to speak at the conference.

“This idea is under discussion, and participants should benefit from the sharing of expertise and experience with food recovery at other campuses and other locations that are part of the conference,” Pridgen says.

Other issues could spur consumer action, such as getting more eligible people in the state and region to accept food and nutrition benefits available to them from the federal government, and work with schools to serve and encourage students to eat more nutritious foods rather than throwing it away.

A viewing of “A Place at the Table” is meant to prompt discussion. Pridgen says the movie shows how families are coping with hunger across the United States. The movie features a U.S. congressman who found trying to live on food stamps challenging.

The movie also shows how the nation’s food programs are barely meeting the need, says Pridgen.

“One issue illustrated by the movie is the paradox that hunger or food insecurity sometimes go hand in hand with obesity,” she said. “It appears that the cheaper food products are the processed ones high in fat, salt and sugar, whereas the more nutritious fruits, vegetables and proteins are more expensive.”

The movie also discusses “food deserts” -- people in urban and rural areas may not have access to stores that sell nutritious foods or only have access to local convenience stores.

Touting false food benefits is also on the schedule. Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), will open the conference Thursday, Oct. 9, via interactive videoconferencing.

“This group (CSPI) has long had an interest in separating out deceptive from truthful claims about nutrition,” Pridgen says.

For a complete list of topics and speakers plus other conference information, visit

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