Chef William Dissen champions food aid reform on Capitol Hill

Chef William Dissen is joining a group of chefs from across the U.S. in Washington D.C. to talk to legislators about food aid reform. Photo by Max Cooper

Asheville chef and restaurateur William Dissen is on the move again. Known nationally for his activism in food-related issues, the chef and owner of Asheville landmark restaurant The Market Place today joins 10 other chefs from around the country to meet with legislators in Washington, D.C., to discuss international food aid.

The group, which also includes chefs Emily Luchetti of San Francisco, Dena Marino of Miami and Evan Hanczor of New York City among others, is specifically seeking to meet with Congress members regarding the Food for Peace Reform Act. The bipartisan bill calls for reforms to current food aid requirements, which demand that all food sent by the U.S. in response to global crises be bought in and shipped from the U.S.

Just a couple of months ago, Dissen was in the Capitol advocating for individual states to have the right to enforce genetically modified organism (GMO) food labeling.

Here is a statement Dissen provided Xpress regarding today’s trip to the Capitol:

Dissen will join ten other chefs from around the country to meet with legislators  about the issue of international food aid. Although the US is the most generous donor of food aid in the world, American food aid is too often slow reaching people in need, inefficient, and wastes money.

That’s because Congress requires all food aid to be purchased from American farmers, even when it is available closer to where it is needed. Congress mandates that food aid be processed and bagged in the US, even when that is the costliest option. Congress mandates that most food aid be shipped on US-flagged vessels, greatly adding to costs and delays. So for every dollar we spend on food aid, only 50 cents actually reaches the people in need.

Dissen will meet with a number of Members of Congress, including Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) and Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), who recently introduced a bill that seeks common sense changes to international food aid programs that would help save millions more lives with no additional costs to taxpayer. The bipartisan bill, Food for Peace Reform Act, would bring US international food aid programs into the 21st century by slashing red tape and adding much-needed flexibility to enable the US Agency for International Development to reach people more quickly and effectively in times of crisis.


About Gina Smith
Gina Smith is the Mountain Xpress Food section editor and writer. She can be reached at

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