Mathew R. Swinburne, J.D., is associate director of the Network’s Eastern Region Office. Mathew has 10 years of experience in public health law and policy.  His work currently focuses on issues of food safety and security, injury prevention, chronic disease, environmental health, and cannabis policy.

Mathew was a Leadership Scholar at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, where he graduated Order of the Coif and magna cum laude in 2008. While at law school, he worked as a judicial intern for the Honorable Richard S. Bernhardt of the Circuit Court for Howard County and as a summer associate for Venable LLP. Mathew also participated in the law school’s Tobacco Control Clinic, advocating for state legislation regarding the tax rate of little cigars. After law school, Mathew worked as a commercial litigation associate for Venable. After leaving Venable, Mathew served as a law and policy analyst at the Center for Health and Homeland Security (CHHS). At CHHS, Mathew worked on cyber-security issues, emergency response resource gap analysis, and public health emergency response programs. Mathew is admitted to practice law in Maryland.

Prior to attending law school, Mathew worked for the American Red Cross in Montgomery County, Maryland. During his tenure, he served as the Director of Volunteer Services, Director of Health and Safety Services, and Interim Executive Director. As a member of the Red Cross, Mathew also participated in the 9/11, D.C. Sniper, and Hurricane Isabel disaster relief operations.

Articles & Resources

WIC: Lessons Learned from COVID-19

Issue BriefMaternal and Child HealthFood Safety and SecurityCOVID-19 and Health EquityMechanisms for Advancing Health Equity

May 19, 2022
by Mathew R. Swinburne

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (commonly known as the WIC program) is the third largest food and nutrition assistance program in the U.S. In 2020 alone, WIC served approximately 6.2 million participants a month, including almost half of all infants born in the country. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the program to expand benefits and alter its administration in ways that have greatly improved participants' lives. This issue brief evaluates the COVID-19 changes to the WIC program and assesses the current issues with the Program highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It also provides policy recommendations to ensure greater participation and adequate benefits for participants.

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The FTC Could Help Curb the Youth Obesity Epidemic by Cracking Down on the Deceptive Advertising of Unhealthy Foods During Children’s Programming Hours

Issue BriefFood Safety and SecurityMechanisms for Advancing Health Equity

May 18, 2022
by Kathleen Hoke and Mathew R. Swinburne

This issue brief examines evidence of racial disparities with respect to COVID-19 infections and deaths, possible causes, and legal protections against race discrimination. It also provides an overview of CSC planning, including key ethical features that may be utilized to ensure that CSC planning incorporates concerns about racial inequity.

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Biden Administration Executive Order Results in Long-Needed Update to SNAP Nutrition Benefits

Law & Policy InsightsFood SecurityMechanisms for Advancing Health Equity

April 20, 2022
by Mathew R. Swinburne

More than 13.8 million U.S. households lack the necessary food and nutrition to live an active and healthy life. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides financial benefits to qualified individuals that can be used to purchase food. These benefits are based on the USDA’s Thrifty Food Plan (TFP), which was last revised in 2006. A January 2021 Biden Administration Executive Order urging the USDA to promptly update the TFP to reflect the current cost of food resulted in a 21 percent increase in SNAP benefits.

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Social Justice Policies in New York’s Cannabis Legalization

Law & Policy InsightsCannabis Legalization and RegulationMechanisms for Advancing Health Equity

October 20, 2021
by Mathew R. Swinburne

Earlier this year, New York legalized adult-use (recreational) cannabis with the Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act.  While it’s now legal for adults to possess cannabis, there are no retail establishments permitted to sell adult-use cannabis. The State is in the process of developing regulations for this new industry and the adult-use market is expected to be operational in late 2022. While New York is focused on creating a safe and efficient industry, it is also incorporating social justice measures, including restorative justice and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies into its new cannabis system.

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Cannabis Voter Initiatives Meet Opposition in State Courts

Law & Policy InsightsCannabis Legalization and Regulation

August 25, 2021
by Mathew R. Swinburne

During the 2020 election cycle, several states utilized voter initiatives to legalize medical and/or adult-use cannabis. While these policy changes align with the nation’s changing perception of cannabis, voter initiatives have met serious legal opposition. Three of these court  cases in particular emphasize the need to understand state constitutional restrictions on voter initiatives and the impact these restrictions can have on the success of an initiative.

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The Federal Food and Drug Administration and the Future of Food Safety

Law & Policy InsightsFood and Housing Insecurity MeasuresFood Safety and SecurityFood Security

June 1, 2021
by Mathew R. Swinburne

The New Era of Smarter Food Safety Initiative released by the agency in June of 2020 serves as the blueprint for the FDA’s approach to food safety over the next decade. While it builds on the foundation created by the 2010 Food Safety Modernization Act, the Initiative represents a new approach to food safety that will leverage technology and data to create a safer food system.

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As Children Transition to In-Person Learning, USDA Announces Important Measures to Ensure Food Security and Safety of Students

Law & Policy InsightsFood Safety and SecurityHealth in School

April 29, 2021
by Mathew R. Swinburne

During the COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity has skyrocketed. It is estimated that in 2021, 42 million Americans have lacked sufficient food to lead healthy lives. This parallel pandemic of hunger deeply affects America’s children with an estimated 12 million children experiencing food insecurity. Prior to the pandemic the free and reduced-price school meal programs were critical tools for addressing food insecurity, serving an estimated 22 million children. A recent study out of Tufts University found that school meals were the most nutritious source of food for most American school children, further emphasizing the critical nature of these programs. The need for these important programs has only grown with the challenges created by COVID-19.

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National Minority Health Month: Raising Awareness and Encouraging Action to Address Health Disparities

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19 and Health EquityMechanisms for Advancing Health Equity

April 21, 2021
by April Shaw, Dawn Hunter and Mathew R. Swinburne

Several universities across the U.S. have announced plans to require students to receive a COVID-19 vaccination before heading back to campus for the fall semester. Brown, Cornell, Duke, Northeastern, and Rutgers are among them. Some institutions of higher learning, like Virginia Tech, have determined that they cannot require vaccinations because of the vaccine’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) status, but this stance rests on shaky legal grounds.

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