Eduardo J. Gómez

Professor Eduardo J. Gómez

Lehigh Professor Receives Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Grant to Explore Food as a Human Right

Eduardo J. Gómez will study what the U.S. can learn from lesser developed countries that have enshrined access to food as a human right in their constitutions

Professor Eduardo J. Gómez has been awarded a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant to conduct a research project titled “Food as a Right—What Can We Learn From the World?”

The project will focus on research into what the United States can learn from low- and middle- income countries that have enshrined access to food as a human right in their constitutions.

The project aligns with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s belief that good ideas have no borders, and its commitment to exploring promising solutions from around the world—programs, policies and practices that might work in the United States to advance health equity.

Gómez has a background in political science, and has incorporated food policy into the project aims.

“This project looks at what the U.S. can learn from lesser developed countries in the area of access to food as a human right… in creating policies, laws, securing food—not only food, but high quality, nutritious food, as a human right,” Gomez said.

Fieldwork will be conducted in Mexico, Brazil and South Africa, all countries that have enshrined access to food as a human right within their constitutions, resulting in three case studies.

The Food as a Right project aims to produce groundbreaking work at the intersection of international case study, food rights and U.S. food security.

“We are eager to learn from developing countries that are light years ahead of the U.S. in establishing [the right to food] and policies based on this right,” Gomez said.

The project has the potential to have a profound impact on United States policy surrounding food security, he said.

“What I am really excited about is that we in the U.S. are trying to learn from other countries… We don't really have a tradition of trying to learn from other countries, especially lesser developed or emerging economies,” Gomez said. “This project takes a humble approach to U.S. policy in recognizing that we don’t have all the answers and have not done anything nearly to what these other countries have done in terms of constitutionalizing the right to access to nutritious foods.”

Funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will facilitate international travel to Mexico, Brazil and South Africa, and enable the gathering of essential materials to conduct focus groups with political, bureaucratic and activist leadership in each country.

Additionally, the funding will support Lehigh graduate and undergraduate students, allowing them to gain hands-on research experience on the topic of international food policy.

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