CUNY Urban Food Policy Monitor
e-newsletter of the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute  
On Giving Tuesday, Contribute to Promoting Food Security at CUNY
November 27 is Giving Tuesday. At CUNY, one option for giving is to contribute to a fund for food security at CUNY. Studies by CUNY School of Public Health researchers found that about 60,000 CUNY undergraduates experience some form of food insecurity. Food insecurity is one of several conditions that undermine academic success. To make a contribution that will help CUNY achieve the goal of ending food insecurity among its students, click here.
Interview with Karen Spangler, Keynote Speaker for our November Urban Food Policy Forum | Food Policy and the 2020 Elections: What to Put on the Table
Eat Think Vote image credit

Karen is the Director of Policy and Program Operations at Food Policy Action and is interviewed here in advance of our next Forum.

Food Policy Monitor (FPM):  Food Policy Action (FPA) has been at the forefront of food policy advocacy.  It has extensively analyzed the impact of federal policies in its "State of the Plate" reports. Based on your understanding of the current policy climate on food, what do you think will be the food policy priorities of the incoming Congress?  And what will be FPA’s top priorities in the next two years? 

Karen Spangler: The top legislative priority for Congress will be to finalize the Farm Bill which comes up every five years for reauthorization. Recent reports have shown that with new leadership, we may be able to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act which covers school feeding programs. Because food touches every political issue including health, the environment, local economies, immigration and worker policies, there are many, many opportunities to showcase how these policies affect how food gets to our plates.

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Proposed Public Charge Rule Threatens to Increase Food Insecurity in New York City
On September 22, 2018 the Trump Administration proposed changes in the "public charge" rules that would expand the discretion of the Office of Homeland Security to deny applications for green cards or certain types of visas.  This decision would be based on an immigrant’s age, family size, income, and assets, as well as based on whether they have utilized certain cash or non-cash public benefits or programs they are legally entitled to use, including use of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  Such a change could make life more difficult for New Yorkers who depend on and are eligible for many of our nation's public benefit programs.  As Food Policy Monitor reported in its previous issue and discussed at the October Food Policy Forum, the proposed rule change could reverse recent progress in reducing food insecurity in New York City.

Before Trump’s “public charge” rule can be finalized, however, the administration is required by law to review and respond to every unique public comment they receive about the proposed regulation.  Several elected officials and advocacy organizations, led nationally by a coalition called Protecting Immigrant Families, have called on people to submit 100,000 comments to the Federal Register on the proposed rule change by the deadline, December 10, 2018.

In a related development, on November 15, CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute's Director Nicholas Freudenberg testified at a City Council hearing of the Committees on Immigration, General Welfare and Health on The Impact of the Proposed “Public Charge” Rule on NYC. He observed that the proposed change in the public charge rule was only one of a cascade of enacted and proposed policy changes that would make it more difficult for immigrants and other vulnerable populations in New York City to find the assistance they needed to avoid hunger and food insecurity.
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Soda Taxes and the 2018 Midterm Election: Implications for New York
By Nicholas Freudenberg
In the November 6 midterm election, voters in Washington and Oregon voted on  ballot initiatives on soda taxes.  In the state of Washington, voters approved a measure that bans any new taxes on food and beverages.  In Oregon, voters rejected a similar ban.  An examination of these two experiences provides insights that may guide public health advocates in New York and other states who believe that soda taxes are an important way to reduce diet-related premature deaths and preventable illnesses.
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Local Government in Food Systems Work
Last month the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development released a special issue on the topic of Local Government in Food Systems Work. Sponsored by the Growing Food Connections (GFC) national initiative, the issue provides Food Policy Monitor readers with a comprehensive overview of the role of local governments in food policy.
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Interview with Marion Nestle on her new book Unsavory Truth: How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eat
In this interview, Nicholas Freudenberg, Director of the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute asks Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard Professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health, emerita, at New York University, about her new book Unsavory Truth, published by Basic Books in October 2018.  The book exposes how the profit motive can lead the food industry to corrupt scientific research.
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Upcoming Events
URBAN FOOD POLICY FORUM | Food Policy and the 2020 Elections: What to Put on the Table

Thursday, November 29, 2018
9:00am – 10:30am
CUNY Graduate School of Public Health
55 West 125th Street, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10027

How can food be a tool to engage communities? What might be some common goals, messages, and strategies for food, democracy, climate change and civil rights groups leading into the 2020 election? Could a New York City and State Food Policy Agenda for 2020 unify different constituencies? On November 29, join the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute to explore these and other questions in this post-election Urban Food Policy Forum.


Craig Willingham, Deputy Director, CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute.
RSVP to Forum

Institute News
Food Poverty and Charitable Food Provision Discussed in the UK
In early November, CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute Senior Faculty Fellow Jan Poppendieck participated in a meeting sponsored by the British Academy entitled “Charitable food provision as an emergency response: sharing evidence from Canada, the USA and the UK.” The conference brought together a group of “early career” researchers from throughout the UK (and a few from the US) with seasoned scholars, food security activists, and “experts by experience” who have made use of the charitable food system. The two day academic meeting in Birmingham, England, was followed by a roundtable in London with members of the UK Food Poverty Alliance. The lively exchanges in both settings discussed how the UK can avoid institutionalizing food charity in ways that both the US and Canada have done. Reliance on local food pantries and food banks has risen dramatically in the UK in the wake of its welfare cutbacks and conversion to a new welfare system called “Universal Credit.” Both the young scholars and the seasoned professionals expressed a desire to find an “exit strategy” from food banking and to resist the lure of warehouses, truck fleets, walk-in coolers and high tech software systems that now characterize food banking in the US.
25th Annual NESAWG Conference
In late October, the Institute’s Director of Youth and Community Development, Charita Johnson James, attended the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG) 2018 “It Takes a Region Conference” in Philadelphia. NESAWG, a network of more than 500 organizations and thousands of individuals, works to support and advocate for a sustainable and just food system. The theme of this year’s conference was “cultivating a transformative food system.” NESAWG believes that in order to create an equitable and sustainable food system, it’s crucial to seek balance within ourselves, our organizations, our ecosystems, and our communities. Hundreds of people, including youth leaders, attended the conference to listen and talk about efforts to transform the food system.

At the conference, Charita Johnson James led a workshop entitled “Using Countermarketing to Engage Youth in Food Justice Advocacy.” The interactive workshop is based on the Institute’s Youth Food Educators (YOFE) model.  YOFE trains young people to develop original countermarketing campaigns against unhealthy foods and beverages, and to develop messages that expose deceitful, predatory or racially targeted marketing of unhealthy products to their peers, families, and communities.

The conference also gave attendees opportunities to experience and engage in action in local food systems work. For example, attendees rallied at Philadelphia City Hall to support threatened community gardens, visited The Common Market—a nonprofit regional food distributor with a mission to connect communities to food from sustainable family farms, and tour an urban farm. To find out more about NESAWG and the conference, click here.
Urban Agriculture World Summit Preparatory Event
Photo: Meeting with the Mayor of Nerima (l-r, Nevin Cohen with Mark Ainsbury, Food Policy Director, Greater London Authority, Mayor Akio Maekawa, Professor André Viljoen, University of Brighton, and William LoSasso, Director of NYC Department of Parks and Recreation’s GreenThumb program)
Nevin Cohen, Research Director at the Institute, has just returned from Nerima City, a ward of Tokyo, Japan, where he participated in a preparatory event for an Urban Agriculture World Summit to be hosted by Nerima in 2019. Dr. Cohen and urban agriculture experts from New York and London discussed the policies and programs each city has implemented to integrate food production into the urban landscape. Nerima (population 722,000) is only 30 minutes from central Tokyo, yet has retained a rich agricultural tradition, with more than 400 operating family farms that grow a wide variety of vegetables, including a traditional daikon radish that Nerima farmers have cultivated since the Edo period. In 2008, the Nerima government established a council of 38 Tokyo municipal governments to protect urban farming, and is organizing the 2019 Summit to foster collaboration among global cities, including New York, London, Toronto, Jakarta, and Seoul, to strengthen urban agriculture worldwide.
The Institute Welcomes Sasha Francisca Estrella-Jones
Sasha Fracisca Estrella-Jones is the Institute's Program Assistant for Youth & Community Development. She became interested in food policy and advocacy while on an alternative study program in Appalachia, Ohio. Her research, explored local definitions of and barriers to finding good food and gauged how the Athens, Ohio food network compared with transnational, national, and local movements in its inclusion of diverse socioeconomic groups. The program also took her to Cuba, where she studied urban farming and food access.

Before joining CUFPI, Sasha was living abroad in Senegal, where she taught English and American culture to Senegalese middle school students as a Fulbright scholar. Sasha believes that the politics of food—what we eat, how we eat, and our access to “good food”—is one of the most pressing issues that the world is currently facing. She is passionate about working on food policy on an international scale.
The Institute Welcomes Lauren Rauh
Lauren Rauh joins the Institute as an intern, currently aiding in research on institutional food procurement. This is her first semester as a student at CUNY School of Public Health and Policy in the MPH Program for Community Health Education. Before enrolling in CUNY, Lauren worked as a Head Chef running restaurants and events in Brooklyn. Throughout her almost decade working in the food industry, she enjoyed teaching healthy cooking to children and adults at various New York City nonprofit programs. These experiences have inspired her to enter a new career devoted to issues of healthy food access and food justice. In this career shift, she is excited to be a part of the important and influential research happening at the Institute. Lauren earned her BA in Anthropology from Smith College and spent time abroad, studying and working in South India. Her educational and professional experiences have informed her deep interest in food practices, culture, and security and their implications for population health.
Teen Vogue Profiles Hostos Food Security Advocate Karla Ignacio
The Thanksgiving issue of Teen Vogue profiled seven college activists fighting food and housing insecurity on campus. One was Karla Ignacio, who completed the Food Security Advocacy Program that the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute sponsored at Hostos Community College and John Jay College last Spring and Summer. In that program, Karla and her peers have worked to raise awareness about food insecurity among CUNY students. The advocates have also lobbied to get healthier and more affordable food in the cafeteria at Hostos. Karla has organized food drives and works at the Single Stop Center, which connects students to federal programs such as food stamps.
New Publications
Scaling-Up Sustainable Development Initiatives: A Comparative Case Study of Agri-Food System Innovations in Brazil, New York, and Senegal
By Rositsa T. Ilieva and Andreas Hernandez
To effectively address our planet’s sustainability crises, decision-makers at different levels of government will have to get take on three key challenges: learning from Global North and South initiatives in tandem, taking stock of social innovations alongside technological fixes, and nurturing grassroots sustainable development initiatives as well as top-down corporate and government interventions. In a recent peer-reviewed publication, the Institute’s Food Policy Monitor Director, Dr. Rositsa T. Ilieva, together with co-author Dr. Andreas Hernandez (Chair, International Studies, Marymount Manhattan College), show the benefits of addressing this challenge through a comparative research perspective. The concurrent exploration of grassroots innovations in Brazil, New York, and Senegal—three profoundly different socioeconomic and geographic contexts—allowed the researchers to identify common pressure points that have enabled local communities to drive system-wide transformations toward climate adaptation, resilience, and sustainability in the agri-food system. Scholars, government officials, and community groups engaged in agri-food systems sustainability, and interested in unravelling the processes of change that allow budding innovations to stabilize and scale up, may find this paper of interest.  Link to full article.
Dr. Nevin Cohen, Research Director at the Institute, authored a chapter in a new book and was featured in a recent article
Flourishing Foodscapes: Design for City-Region Food Systems discusses strategies to redesign urban food systems to address impending social, economic, and environmental challenges. Focusing on the spatial configuration of food systems, the book illustrates how different local initiatives can cause structural changes that lead to healthier, sustainable cities. Edited by landscape architect Saline Verhoeven and rural sociologist Han Wiskerke, the book
suggests the need for an interdisciplinary and design-driven approaches to food systems.
Earlier this year, Dr. Cohen gave an interview for the Public Health Post on the untapped potential of design thinking – or the structured process of engaging end-users both in the definition of a problem and the prototyping and testing of its possible solutions – as a tool for exploring New York City's community-constructed food environments. In the context of the Five Borough Farm Project, for which Dr. Cohen served as a lead policy expert, this approach afforded a more granular understanding of the city’s network of urban farms and gardens and their benefits for community health and food equity. Read the article here.
Book - Paperback Edition Release
Urban Food Planning: Seeds of Transition in the Global North
by Rositsa T. Ilieva
Food is back on the mayoral agenda in the Global North. To date, more than 180 cities from around the world have signed the global Milan Urban Food Policy Pact and several dozen of those have attempted to devise a comprehensive food systems plan or strategy. But how to get a handle on this emerging interface between urban policy, planning, and community food systems? In her book “Urban Food Planning: Seeds of Transition in the Global North,” released in paperback edition this November, Institute Food Policy Monitor Director Dr. Rositsa T. Ilieva provides a systematic analysis of this emerging field of practices and points to answers. The research uses transition theories to draw lessons from instances of “urban food planning” – or where sustainable food systems goals and city plans and policies meet – in Western Europe and North America. In this book, Dr. Ilieva argues that only by making visible and appreciating the multiplicity of city-regional food system innovations, taking place in cities, can we debunk the myth that food is working in the public interest and can easily be omitted from the menu of sustainable and resilient city polices, plans, and projects. Link to book here.
Partner News / Opportunities
Tenure-track assistant professor position open at Queens College of CUNY

The Department of Family, Nutrition & Exercise Sciences, Queens College, the City University of New York (CUNY), invites applications for a full-time tenure-track assistant professor position, starting in the Fall 2019 semester.

The field of specialization for this position is flexible and can be any foods-related area such as food studies, food science, food service management, institutional management, food policy, food sustainability, food justice, food and society, or food as medicine. The successful candidate will be expected to develop a robust research program in their area of interest as evidenced by peer-reviewed publications and research supported by external grants. S/he will also be expected to provide vision and leadership for the program, teach courses in Food Management Studies, provide advisement to undergraduate students, and serve on departmental and/or college-wide committees, and be committed to teaching a diverse body of urban students. A Ph.D. degree is required, although ABD (all but dissertation) applicants will be considered.
You can view and apply for this job on CUNY Jobs website

The Lunch 4 Learning Coalition meets the new NYC Schools Chancellor

The CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute has been an active member of the Lunch 4 Learning Campaign since this Institute's establishment in 2016. The Campaign was developed by Community Food Advocates – founded in 2010 to improve the health and well-being of low-income New Yorkers – and it brought together children, young people, parents, teachers, health professionals, labor unions, elected officials, researchers and others to advocate that New York City offer lunch free of charge to all students in public schools. Now that the Campaign has achieved its goal of universal free meals for all NYC PreK-12 students, the campaign is focused on publicizing the new policy, agitating for cafeteria redesign and other improvements, reestablishing menu flexibility, engaging students and parents in school food decision making, and making sure that Halal and Kosher food is available where needed. Lunch 4 Learning team members, including Institute co-founder and Senior Fellow Jan Poppendieck, met with the new NYC Schools Chancellor, and head of the NYC Department of Education Richard A. Carranza on October 5, 2018. Chancellor Carranza, who came to New York after serving as Superintendent of Schools in Houston, Texas, expressed strong support for continuing to improve school meals.
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Announces the National Salt and Sugar Reduction Initiative

The National Salt and Sugar Reduction Initiative (NSSRI), a partnership of about 100 organizations and health authorities nationwide and convened by DOHMH, has released preliminary categories and targets on added sugar reduction for technical comment.

The initiative set preliminary sugar reduction targets for 13 packaged food categories that represent the majority of sugar in the diet and publicly released the targets. You can find a copy of the NSSRI press release linked here. The initiative was covered by several media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, Politico, and Crains, in addition to several local news outlets from across the country. The targets, current list of partners, and additional information, can be found on the New York City Health Department website at

The NSSRI complements a suite of national and local strategies to improve Americans’ diets through consumer behavior change, including but not limited to education and policy, such as taxes and point of purchase information. At this time, the food and beverage industry has been invited to share comments on the proposed categories and on the feasibility of meeting the targets. Final targets will be released in 2019, and at that point the NSSRI will encourage companies to commit to meeting the targets by 2022 and 2025.

Please email with any questions.
Sugary Drink Consumption Among NYC Children, Youth, and Adults: Disparities Persist Over Time, 2007–2015
Elfassy, T., Adjoian, T. & Lent, M. J Community Health (2018).

Sugary drink consumption is associated with many adverse health outcomes, including weight gain, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. These beverages are widely marketed and ubiquitously available. This analysis explores sugary drink consumption across all age groups among New York City (NYC) residents using representative survey data. Three population-based representative surveys of NYC residents of different age groups were analyzed. Adult participants, youth participants, and caregivers of child participants self-reported the number of sugary drinks they consumed per day. At each age level, there were persistent disparities in sugary drink consumption by sex, race/ethnicity, educational attainment, and poverty level. Decreasing overall rates of sugary drink consumption are promising; however, disparities by socio-demographics are a concern. Reducing sugary drink consumption across all ages is recommended as is minimizing the introduction at an early age. Reduction of sugary drink consumption will require a collaborative, multi-sectoral approach. Read full article.
Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (Restoration) seeking a Program Coordinator

Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (Restoration) is searching for a Program Coordinator to lead outreach and engagement activities in support of initiatives such as their Farm to Institution program and Bike Share efforts. This position will involve ensuring the coordination and sustainability of these projects as part of Restoration’s larger mission and vision as a community development organization. Click here for more information.
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