Reformist, progressive, radical: The case for an inclusive alliance


  • Janet Elizabeth Poppendieck Senior Faculty Fellow, CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute, Professor Emerita of Sociology, Hunter College, City University of New York



food assistance, food movement, food regime, food security, food justice, food sovereignty, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), National School Lunch Program, Good Food Purchasing Program


Scholars of food regimes and food movements have argued that the capacity of the contemporary food movement to achieve significant change is dependent upon the nature of the alliances formed by the progressive, food justice component of the broader array of food change organizations. They have urged alliances primarily with the more radical food sovereignty branch of the food movement. I argue that in the United States, which provides far more assistance to poor people as food assistance than as cash welfare, alliances with reformist food security organizations, and specifically the anti-hunger organizations focused on protecting and expanding federal food assistance, must be an essential part of any significant food justice agenda. These programs are essential to the survival of millions of Americans in the present while we are trying to build a better world for the future. Mobilized and informed public policy advocacy has an impressive track record of successful defense and incremental improvement of food programs. Several of these programs are entitlements that actually create justiciable rights. The collective procurement associated with school food and other public meal programs creates levers for fundamental food system change. And the network of federal, state and local anti-hunger organizations is potentially a portal through which people can enter the movement for a just food future. Food justice activists should include anti-hunger advocates among their allies and partners.




How to Cite

Poppendieck, J. E. (2022). Reformist, progressive, radical: The case for an inclusive alliance. Canadian Food Studies La Revue Canadienne Des études Sur l’alimentation, 9(2), 53–63.