Former Undersecretary of Agriculture Gus Schumacher, who is known for his lifelong efforts to improve access to fresh local food in underserved communities, presented the first on-campus lecture of the spring President's Forum Series. Schumacher is currently executive vice president and cofounder of Wholesome Wave, a nonprofit agency which helps community groups find affordable fresh food. His President's Forum lecture, "The Right to Bear Farms - Agriculture, Nutrition and America's Health," was held on Thursday, Jan. 30, at 7:30 p.m. in the Geneva Room of the Warren Hunting Smith Library.
Uniting consumers with farmers has been Schumacher's mission since he was first appointed commissioner of food and agriculture for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts nearly three decades ago. As commissioner, Schumacher initiated farmers' market coupon programs for seniors and low-income families with children and then went on to expand the programs nationally when he served as undersecretary of agriculture for farm and foreign agricultural services at the USDA from 1997 to 2001. There he oversaw the Farm Service Agency, the Foreign Agricultural Service, and the Risk Management Agency and grew those programs nationally.
Wholesome Wave is known for its Double Value Coupon Program, which allows recipients to double the value of their federal food benefits at farmers' markets, as well as the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program that is in place at two New York City hospitals, in which doctors prescribe farmers' market vouchers for patients with diabetes or obesity problems.
Prior to his appointment as undersecretary, Schumacher served as administrator of USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service, worked as a senior agri-lender for the World Bank, and served as president of the Commodity Credit Corporation. Schumacher also was a member of the 21st Century Sustainable Agricultural Task Force of the National Academy of Sciences.
Currently, Schumacher also serves as the contributing agricultural editor of Food Arts magazine and is on the Board of GrainPro, LLC of Concord, Mass. Most recently his lifelong commitment to uniting consumers with farmers was recognized with a James Beard Leadership Foundation Award in 2013. Additionally, he was presented the 20th Anniversary Food Arts award for outstanding service to the American food and farming systems in 2008.
Schumacher holds a degree in economics from Harvard College and studied at the London School of Economics.