Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Derek Miller Presents on Nutrition Programs

Last Thursday, we were very fortunate to have Derek Miller teach a class on the USDA Nutrition Programs.  Derek's presentation was part of our Food, Farming & Sustainability class, a course that explores the complex range of agricultural and food law issues, surveying a different issue each week.  Derek appear via live digital video conference from Washington, D.C.

Derek's special expertise in the nutrition programs comes as a result of years of dedicated service in Washington, including significant work on recent farm bills.  He serves as legislative director for U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

Prior to serving as Harkin's legislative director, Derek served as senior professional staff member on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, where he was responsible for food and nutrition policy, including federally administered food assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) among others.  Prior to working on the Senate Agriculture Committee, Miller worked for  Congresswoman Eva Clayton (D-NC).

The class provided an overview of the major federal food assistance programs, including the SNAP Program (formerly the Food Stamp Program) and the child nutrition programs (school lunch, school breakfast, and WIC).  As the number of Americans that slip below the poverty level increases, these programs provide a critical safety net for families and in particular for children. Woven into the discussion of the statutory framework of these programs, are the complex policy issues related to poverty, changing attitudes toward nutrition, local sourcing of food, and the impact of lobbying efforts.  The LL.M. candidates thoroughly enjoyed the presentation and the opportunity to ask Derek questions about the programs.  In fact, we all lingered well after class to continue the discussion with Derek.

We are very grateful to Derek for his fantastic presentation and have already invited him back to teach a session in our Food Law & Policy class next fall.  Appreciation is also extended to our alumna, Amy Lowenthal, for helping to connect us to Derek.  Amy served with Derek on the Senate Agriculture Committee.

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