Reference to a current Michigan bill or law that relates in some way to your proposal:
Why this proposal will make a difference in the lives of students of all ages across Michigan, or a significant subgroup (by age, background, economic status, and/or region, etc.) of students in Michigan:
How and where did you learn about the issues underlying your proposal?
How has your service activity influenced your thinking about this proposal?
Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue:
Talk directly with at least 3 real live people who have special knowledge about this topic or the impact your proposal would have, and summarize their comments. These may include people appearing in your media artifact (video, podcast, etc.).
Expiration Date Reform
Food waste is one of the biggest issues in the United States and is very significant in the state of Michigan. A 2012 Report by the Natural Resources Defense Council showed that Americans trash up to 40 percent of our food supply every year, equivalent to $165 billion. A large portion of this unacceptable activity is due to the fact that companies list their products by the “sell by day” instead of the actual expiration date. According to NPR “Companies use the labels to protect the reputation of their products – they want consumers to see and consume their food in as fresh a state as possible”. This selfish labeling practice leads to 91 percent of consumers then throwing away their food too early because of a “concern for food safety”. Surprisingly, there has been very little government intervention on this crucial issue. Almost every state, including Michigan, has no legal definition for what the “sell by” or “best by” day is supposed to be. According to Michigan State University “The only requirement issued by the Michigan Department of Agriculture is that “all packaged, perishable foods (those with a shelf life of less than 90 days) must be labeled with a recommended last day of sale consisting of the month and day.” We think it is time for food manufacturers and the Government of Michigan to start taking responsibility for all this wasted food. By creating guidelines that rely on food actually becoming toxic and unable to eat rather than just when it is “best by”; millions of dollars will be saved each year. More importantly, a new food labeling agenda will decrease the enormous amount of food wasted and help reduce food hunger throughout the state of Michigan.
Describe three reasonable, feasible potential solutions or approaches that would help address this problem.
SOLUTION 1: Education
One of the most popular reasons why so much food gets wasted every year is purely due to lack of food education. This is specifically related to the lack of nutrition education in elementary, middle, and high schools. According to the National Center for Education, “with the exception of the Food Guide Pyramid, less than half of schools cover” the full nutrition curriculum. This is why we believe the inclusion of food expiration information and improvements to health education as a whole would vastly reduce hunger and even obesity in the U.S. It might even make sense to have the parents come in to learn this crucial information as well. During the introduction of this new food curriculum, we think non profits like Food Gatherers should come in and teach students this new information. We believe this solution would be cheaper and receive less pushback than our other options.
SOLUTION 2: Law
One way to ensure that companies change their labels would be to enact direct legislation for this issue. This solution would involve creating a law stating that companies must provide a “true” expiration date on their packaging. This date would be when their product “may get stale”, “go sour”, or “become hazardous”. In this solution, the common person would not even need to be educated about the extension of food labels because the actual labels would be “correct”. The Grocery Manufacturers Association and The Food Marketing Institute are “now advising their members, which include most major food manufacturers and retailers, to abolish many current labels, including "Expires on" and "Sell by”. They are instead encouraging manufacturers to switch to “Best if used by” and “Use by” dates. Since these groups are already pushing there members toward putting more informative dates on their packaging, this law should be easier to initiate.
SOLUTION 3: Incentives
Sometimes when laws become too difficult to actually pass, the government provides economic incentives. Economic Incentives can include “tax abatements, tax revenue sharing, grants, infrastructure assistance, no or low-interest financing, free land, tax credits and other financial resources.” For this solution, we suggest the government provide tax break for companies that put a true expiration date on their products. This would mean that food manufacturers would have to put the date when their products become hazardous to eat instead of their current dates denoting the expiration of “peak quality”. We believe that many major companies would be willing to follow these suggested rules because it would provide them a major competitive advantage. This solution could also be a beginning step towards the eventual passage of a law requiring changes to food expiration dating.
You must solicit a critique from a topic coordinator, and explain the impact that advice has had on the final draft of this proposal.
Describe your research process — indicate who you talked to (including but not limited to consultants), what you read, what your thinking was, how it changed over time, and how your consultants changed your thinking. This description of your research process definitely could include “dead ends,” or ideas you had that didn’t ultimately bear fruit. In short, we want to know what you did and how it led to your legislation, and we also want you to give us a window into your thought process.
Please delineate--in detail--who made what contributions to the process and to the finished proposal? Who took on which responsibilities in researching ideas, drafting language, etc.?
The sections below should comprise your final proposal language, submitted for consideration by your peers and potential inclusion in the MSC Platform.Preambulatory clauses
These set up the PROBLEM, but not the solution.
(Add more "Whereas" clauses if necessary.)Operative clauses
These describe in detail, the solution you are proposing (not the problem itself; those should go in the "Whereas" clauses above).
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED....
(Add more "Resolved" clauses if necessary.)Counter-arguments:
What are three reasonable arguments against this proposal?
3.Costs and funding:
What will your proposal cost (in direct expenses, lost tax revenue, lost economic opportunity, and/or non-monetary costs)? How will you pay for your proposed legislation? Where will/could the funding for your proposal come from? Who might object to dedicating resources to your proposal (competing interests)?
These can include websites or other information you have found about the issue.