What we eat and drink every day affects how we feel in the moment and our overall health. Upstream works to make quality, healthy food easy to get, cheaper, and available to everyone.
Why It Matters
Lack of affordable, accessible, healthy food costs us our health, our vitality, our ability to learn, and our ability to work. Food access is also about fairness: limited healthy food options create an added burden for people with lower incomes, people of color, people living in isolated areas, older adults, and youth. This lack of good food and over-abundance of junk food is part of why Oregon is one of the hungriest states in the nation; more than half a million Oregonians are food insecure. Our toxic food environments contribute to overweight and obesity rates more than tripling among children and doubling among adults in the past thirty years. Obesity increases the risk of other serious health conditions including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, cancer, high cholesterol, breathing problems, depression, and weakened bones.
What We’re Doing
We support the health of all Oregonians everyday by incorporating food and nutrition issues in land use, public health, and economic development decisions. Upstream is participating in regional and statewide efforts to make sure decision makers consider health and equity impacts of food and nutrition.
- Farm to School - Upstream co-leads the Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Network’s Policy Workgroup to ensure more Oregon produced and processed foods are available in schools.
- Sugary Beverage Limits - Upstream works with a coalition of state partners exploring options for decreasing soda consumption, which increasing amounts of research is showing to be a major contributing factor to the obesity and diabetes epidemics.
- Food Access, Water Access, and Food Systems Planning - Upstream works with schools and school districts to increase access to healthy foods and beverages including water. We also support regional food system efforts such as the City of Portland’s Urban Food Zoning Code Update and the Multnomah Food Initiative.
- School Nutrition Standards - On the federal front, Upstream partnered with the Health Impact Project and the Kids’ Safe and Healthy Foods Project to conduct a Health Impact Assessment examining how stronger nutritional standards on snacks and drinks sold in schools might affect student health and school finances.
What You Can Do
Interested in learning more about ongoing ways to get involved in these issues? E-mail Tia, Upstream's Research Manager, and she'll point you in the right direction.
Our Successes So Far
In partnership with other leaders Farm to School programs have been created and funded in the Oregon Departments of Education and Agriculture, and in 2011 we led the effort to pass HB 2800 which established a state-funded grant pilot project to increase local food purchases in two school districts. We released a Health Impact Assessment of the original legislation, which proposed to provide farm to school funding for all schools, statewide.
We introduced and helped win passage of Oregon school nutrition standards on foods and beverages sold outside school meals in 2007.
In a partnership with David Douglas School District, we successfully increased student access to filtered tap water in eight schools, dispersed 4,940 BPA-free water bottles to students, and worked with students to promote health. You can read the project report here.