2015 Big Apple Award, Public Affairs: Government, Associations & Non-Profit (Client: Food Policy Action)

Food Policy Action

Making food count in the 2014 Election cycle

Food Policy Action (FPA) was founded by celebrity chef Tom Colicchio and Ken Cook, President of the Environmental Working Group, to educate voters on food issues being debated in Washington, and to hold policymakers accountable for their votes. FPA engaged GSG to “make food matter” as a political issue in the 2014 election cycle. This was the first time an organization was devoted to the task of translating food-related votes in Washington to political issues on the campaign trail.

We designed a six-month public affairs campaign to give FPA the platform it needed to communicate with voters. Our primary goals were to raise the organization’s visibility in Washington, target politicians with terrible food records and hold them accountable, and educate voters on Congress’ food policy decisions. We believed that once Members realized their votes were being tracked and that political repercussions followed, Congress would slowly begin to handle food issues as more than agriculture issues.

The team decided to make Rep. Steve Southerland of Florida’s Second Congressional District its #1 target for defeat due to Southerland’s role in blocking the 2013 Farm Bill in order to cut food stamps. In the weeks leading up to Election Day, we targeted voters with a Telephone Town Hall, digital advertisements, and an op-ed by Tom Colicchio and VoteVets Chairman Jon Soltz that appeared in the Tallahassee Democrat, all of which held Rep. Southerland accountable for his votes to cut nutrition assistance programs for vulnerable populations such as veterans, women, and children.

On Election Day, incumbent Rep. Steve Southerland was defeated despite a strong pro-Republican wave, and Politico’s Morning Agriculture and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes featured FPA’s role as critical for this victory for the food movement.