Local Policy

Accessing and affording healthy food is essential to maintaining a healthy diet. Policies that promote healthy food access are often local and community-led. Some policies, such as those that promote urban agriculture or require certain foods to be stocked in stores, are aimed at directly improving the food environment where people live and shop. Other policies, including economic policies, may improve household finances and the ability to consistently purchase healthier foods. Through collaborative efforts, the Rudd Center identifies and evaluates polices enacted by cities, states, and other local jurisdictions, that contribute to a healthy food environment and health equity.

View more information about the Rudd Center's collaborative efforts below.


Healthy Food Policy Project

The Healthy Food Policy Project, a four-year collaboration of the Rudd Center, the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School, and the Public Health Law Center at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, identifies and elevates local laws that seek to promote access to healthy food, and also contribute to strong local economies, an improved environment, and health equity, with a focus on socially disadvantaged and marginalized groups. Key components of the project include a searchable database of local municipal laws, case studies, and a food systems policy crosswalk. The project is funded by the National Agricultural Library, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Minneapolis Minimum Wage Ordinance Evaluation

The WAGE$ study is an ongoing natural experiment evaluating whether an increase in local minimum wage affects diet and obesity-related outcomes. Minimum wage increases are becoming increasingly common in states and local jurisdictions across the U.S.

Why would a minimum wage laws affect those particular outcomes? Income has long been recognized as a key social determinant of health. Minimum wage laws are an approach to increasing income among households with low-wage workers. Income might influence health through many different pathways. Greater financial stability can increase access to a broad range of health-promoting resources, including high-quality housing and neighborhood services, healthcare, and healthy food. So, diet quality and obesity are among the many health outcomes that could be affected by raising the minimum wage.

The WAGE$ study follows a cohort of low-wage workers in Minneapolis, MN (where a minimum wage increase is current being implemented) and Raleigh, NC (where a state pre-emption restricts any minimum wage increase) to test whether the policy affects body mass index, food purchases, SNAP participation, and food insecurity. The study is funded by a 5-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (R01DK118664).

Resources & Related Links:

Howard County Unsweetened

Rudd Center researchers have been working with the Horizon Foundation to design and lead the evaluation of Howard County Unsweetened, a community-based initiative to reduce sugary drink consumption and improve health.

Research studies:

Minneapolis Staple Foods Ordinance

The Minneapolis Staple Foods Ordinance requires licensed grocery stores (including corner stores, gas stations, dollar stores, and pharmacies) to sell a certain amount of basic food items including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, eggs, and low-fat dairy.

The ordinance was evaluated in a multi-year research study to evaluate the impact of the staple foods ordinance. The specific goals of the study were to assess changes in healthy food availability in stores before, during and after policy implementation and to assess changes in the nutritional quality of consumer purchases at stores.