The Center for Science in the Public Interest has been awarded a one-time, $15 million gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. CSPI says the unrestricted gift is the largest such gift in the nonprofit’s 50-year history as America’s food and health watchdog.
CSPI is the group that led the campaign to require Nutrition Facts on packaged foods in the early 1990s. In the 2000s and 2010s, CSPI led successful campaigns to get soda and junk food out of schools, place calories on chain restaurant menus, improve allergen labeling, pass landmark food safety reform, and eliminate artificial trans fat from the food supply. Today, the group also monitors the largely unregulated dietary supplement industry, combats COVID-19 related misinformation, and campaigns to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks of agricultural biotechnology. CSPI has also launched a new program for scientific integrity to further combat misinformation and push for transparency at federal regulatory agencies.
“Now more than ever, people are demanding a healthier food environment and seeking to protect their health from corporate practices that are making us sick,” said CSPI president Dr. Peter G. Lurie. “Besides being grateful for this incredibly generous gift, we see this award as a vote of confidence in both our past accomplishments and in our new work to ensure everyone in this country has access to safe, healthy, affordable, and sustainable food.”
In 2020, CSPI launched a major expansion of its advocacy to address the nutritional needs of low-income families and communities of color, thanks to a multi-year grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. CSPI is campaigning to expand access to, and increase benefits from, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, and to guarantee universal healthy school meals for kids. CSPI is also working with cities, states, and companies, to improve public policies and corporate practices affecting grocery stores, restaurants, schools, and other public places.
The Scott gift will help CSPI leverage that expansion, with an eye toward mobilizing more Americans to become active on food policy issues and reducing inequities in the food system.
“This gift is a historic investment in public health that will help ensure that CSPI’s next 50 years will be as productive as its first,” said CSPI board chair Robin Caiola. “On behalf of the board, staff, and membership of the organization, I thank Ms. Scott for her trust in CSPI and for her ongoing thoughtful philanthropy.”
“Our communities are succumbing to diabetes, heart disease, and cancer due to relentless marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages,” said former Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter, vice chairman of CSPI’s board of directors. “But CSPI is winning change everywhere from city council chambers to courthouses, corporate board rooms, and in Washington. This gift recognizes the urgency of that work.”
To preserve its independence, CSPI does not accept corporate or government grants, and its flagship publication, Nutrition Action, accepts no advertising.