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Introduce Organic Food Into Your School

School Food Safety Ballot Initiative Campaign
Action Steps for Getting Started

Keep the process simple and just start. The initiative process is intended to be simple enough to allow ordinary citizens to enact new statutes, ordinances and amendments, mostly independent of governing bodies. Obtain current and complete information from the appropriate election office. Also, see FAQ�s.

  1. Find out if you have Initiative rights in your state, county or city by visiting (State and Local I & R buttons on the left of home page). If you do, then contact your secretary of state, county government or city hall election office or web-sites to obtain complete current instructions for filing a ballot initiative and circulating petitions. Don�t let them know what your initiatives are about until you file. Additionally, ask which initiatives are currently in progress. If your initiative has been filed already by someone else then maybe you can help that person or committee.
  2. Obtain copies, from the same office, of several previously filed initiatives and petitions, preferably which were approved for petitioning and ever better if passed into law. Use these as a model for page layout and orientation, formatting, font size and type, enactment clause, numbering, warnings, etc.
  3. Confirm the time frame for each step of the initiative process. Determine if there is enough time to get through the filing, review and public comment periods (if required) and still have a reasonable time for collecting enough signatures to be on the ballot in the next election. If not, find out if you can still begin the process now and pursue getting on the ballot for the next available election.
  4. Obtain text of draft initiatives from the organization that assisted you in filing the initiatives.
  5. Determine if your initiative is going to be a constitutional amendment or statute (for statewide initiatives) or a charter amendment or initiated ordinance (for citywide initiatives). See FAQ�s for more information on considerations for choosing the type of initiative and its preferred location in the statutes or ordinances.
  6. Create the necessary documents exactly according to the current official instructions.
  7. File the initiative and any other necessary documents with the appropriate office.

Note: The requirements for deadlines, sequence of procedural steps, and the specific details of formatting and filing an initiative vary widely from place to place. It is very helpful to have legal assistance though it is not legally required usually. You can go a long way without it if you pay close attention to the instructions and follow what other successful initiative proponents have done. But don�t assume that a huge organization, or prior experience is needed before you begin. Just start in a simple way and let people and resources gravitate to you. In the words of both an expert at the I&R Institute and also the Director of the Legislative Assistance office in one state, "just send it in and see what happens". If the initiative has serious flaws, it can always be withdrawn and resubmitted in a better form. However, a proper start will save time.

Reference web-sites and books for additional information on Initiative: (1,2 and 3 are the most important)

  1. -- (Initiative and Referendum Institute, Washington, D.C.) Offers very complete information on the history, benefits and state and local initiative rights. Contains basic requirements and database of current and past initiatives in your state.
  2. � (Alliance for Justice). Valuable information on how non-profit 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) organizations can participate in ballot initiatives.
  3. � Tracks initiatives in all states, and links to other organizations that have related information on the use of Initiative..
  4. Citizen Lawmakers, by David Schmidt � Excellent and inspiring book on the history, benefits and use of the initiative process. It also contains a brief campaign manual.

Sample Resolutions

  • Sample ordinance banning genetically engineered food for Denver, CO.
  • Below is actual resolution to include organic food in MN schools

Signed by Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton
August 25, 2000


    Urging the City of Minneapolis to include certified organic food vendors as an option in contract negotiations and to urge the federal government to label and test genetically engineered (g.e.) foods as well as to assign liability to the commercial developers of g.e. technology.

    Whereas, consumers of any food product have the right to complete confidence and thorough knowledge of any ingredient in their food or other products; and

    Whereas, genetically engineered (g.e.) foods have not been adequately tested by any federal agency for long-term impacts on human health or the environment; and

    Whereas, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests only that companies engineering foods state that g.e. foods are safe, but requires no further testing; and

    Whereas, numerous bioengineers and related distinguished scientists have gone on record stating this technology clearly is different from traditional breeding methods and is highly probable to exhibit a host of undesirable health and environmental risk factors; and

    Whereas, competent scientific researchers have suggested that g.e. foods, seed, and other products could pose risks to the environment, including damaged soil ecology, harmful effects to wildlife, increased use of farm chemicals, and other potential effects; and

    Whereas, scientists and other researchers have indicated that g.e. crops may harm beneficial insect species, such as Monarch butterflies, as well as threatened and endangered insect species; and

    Whereas, g.e. materials could have serious impacts on levels of toxins in food, antibiotic resistance, cancer, immuno-suppression, and allergic reactions, and may be particularly threatening to children and the elderly; and

    Whereas, in the event of a serious health impact and an ensuing lawsuit, the federal government has not yet assigned liability to the commercial developers of g.e. foods; and

    Whereas, g.e. foods are growing in prevalence in the United States and around the world, without sufficient regulation or research; and

    Whereas, many community organizations, representing farmers and sustainable agriculture interests, as well as consumers, environmentalists and others, have argued for a moratorium on g.e. foods (, and some countries have effectively-if not officially-instituted a moratorium, including France, Italy, Denmark, Greece, and Luxembourg; and

    Whereas, the European Commission has agreed on terms to guarantee the labeling of g.e. foods;

    Now, Therefore,

    Be It Resolved by The City Council of The City of Minneapolis: That the City Council of Minneapolis formally state to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that all g.e. foods should be labeled clearly, that all g.e. material should be thoroughly researched and regulated, that liability should be assigned to the commercial developers of g.e. foods, and that, until these materials are proven safe, that the FDA, the EPA, and the USDA should establish a moratorium on these products.

    Be It Further Resolved that the Minneapolis City Council endorses House Bills 3883 named the "Genetically Engineered Food Safety Act," and 3377 and its companion Senate Bill 2080 named the "Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act."

    Be It Further Resolved that the City Council urges that all City departments and agencies include certified organic food vendors as an option during any and all contract negotiations.

    Be It Further Resolved that the City Council urges that, by January of 2001, special events held by City departments and City agencies include caterers that avoid g.e. ingredients and use certified organic foods and Minnesota Grown organic foods as an option.

    Be It Further Resolved that the City Council urges the Minneapolis School District to consider offering certified organic lunches as an option.

Steps Parents and Teachers Can Take
to Reduce School Pesticide Use

Parents Bill of Rights

We the Parents
Parents' Bill of Rights

WHEREAS, the nurturing of character and strong values in children is one of the most important functions of any society;

WHEREAS, the primary responsibility for the upbringing of children
resides in their parents;

WHEREAS, an aggressive commercial culture has invaded the relationship between parents and children, and has impeded the ability of parents to guide the upbringing of their own children;

WHEREAS, corporate marketers have sought increasingly to bypass
parents, and speak directly to children in order to tempt them with the
most sophisticated tools that advertising executives, market researchers and psychologists can devise;

WHEREAS, these marketers tend to glorify materialism, addiction, hedonism, violence and anti-social behavior, all of which are abhorrent to most parents;

WHEREAS, parents find themselves locked in constant battle with this
pervasive influence, and are hard pressed to keep the commercial culture and its degraded values out of their children’s lives;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the U.S. Congress and the fifty
state legislatures should right the balance between parents and corporations and restore to parents some measure of control over the commercial influences on their children, by enacting this Parents’ Bill of Rights, including,

Leave Children Alone Act. This act bans television advertising aimed
at children under 12 years of age. (federal)

Child Privacy Act. This act restores to parents the ability to safeguard the privacy of their own children. It gives parents the right to control any commercial use of personal information concerning their
children, and the right to know precisely how such information is
used. (federal, state)

Advertising to Children Accountability Act. This act helps parents affix individual responsibility for attempts to subject their children to
commercial influence. It requires corporations to disclose who created
each of their advertisements, and who did the market research for
each ad directed at children under 12 years of age. (federal)

Commercial-Free Schools Act. Corporations have turned the public
schools into advertising free-fire zones. This act prohibits corporations
from using the schools and compulsory school laws to bypass parents
and pitch their products to impressionable schoolchildren. (federal, state)

Fairness Doctrine for Parents. This act provides parents with the
opportunity to talk back to the media and the advertisers. It makes
the Fairness Doctrine apply to all advertising to children under 12
years of age, providing parents and community with response time on
broadcast TV and radio for advertising to children. (federal)

Please make copies of the Parents’ Bill of Rights, and give or mail them
to your members of Senate, House, state legislators and candidates. Ask them to turn the provisions into law. Distribute this today care centers, schools, churches, synagogues, coffee shops, grocery stores and other places where parents gather.

WHEREAS, the aim of this corporate marketing is to turn children into
agents of corporations in the home, so that they will nag their parents for the things they see advertised, thus sowing strife, stress and misery in the family;

WHEREAS, the products advertised generally are ones parents themselves would not choose for their children: violent and sexually suggestive entertainment, video games, alcohol, tobacco, gambling and junk food;

WHEREAS, this aggressive commercial influence has contributed to an
epidemic of marketing-related diseases in children, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, alcoholism, anorexia and bulimia, while millions will eventually die from the marketing of tobacco;

WHEREAS, corporations have latched onto the schools and compulsory school laws as a way to bypass parents and market their products and values to a captive audience of impressionable and trusting children;

WHEREAS, these corporations ultimately are creatures of state law, and it is intolerable that they should use the rights and powers so granted for the purpose of undermining the authority of parents in these ways;

Product Placement Disclosure Act. This law gives parents more
information with which to monitor the influences that prey upon
their children through the media. Specifically, it requires corporations
to disclose, on packaging and at the outset, any and all product
placements on television and videos, and in movies, video games and
books. This prevents advertisers from sneaking ads into media that
parents assume to be ad-free. (federal)

Child Harm Disclosure Act. Parents have a right to know of any
significant health effects of products they might purchase for their
children. This act creates a legal duty for corporations to publicly
disclose all information suggesting that their product(s) could
substantially harm the health of children. (federal)

Children’s Food Labeling Act. Parents have a right to information
about the food that corporations push upon their children. This act
requires fast food restaurant chains to label contents of food, and
provide basic nutritional information about it. (federal, state)

Children’s Advertising Subsidy Revocation Act. It is intolerable that the federal government actually rewards corporations with a big tax write-off for the money they spend on psychologists, market researchers, ad agencies, media and the like in their campaigns to instill their values in our children. This act eliminates all federal subsidies, deductions and preferences for advertising aimed at children under 12 years of age. (federal)


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