CUNY Urban Food Policy Monitor
e-newsletter of the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute  
Food and the New York City Budget: A Review and Analysis of Municipal Budget Allocations in Fiscal Years 2019 and 2020
How New York City government spends its tax dollars affects every aspect of the food New Yorkers produce, sell, buy, prepare, eat and dispose. Budget decisions shape who is hungry and who not, how many New Yorkers suffer from diet-related disease, how easy it is to find healthy affordable food in all the city’s neighborhoods, and the extent to which labor laws protect low-wage food workers. Yet the complex process of approving and spending the city’s budget and allocating funding to various food-related programs and policies remains obscure for many New Yorkers, including even those who are committed to creating healthier, more equitable and sustainable food systems. In this report, the staff of the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute seeks to illuminate this process.

Note to Readers: This report is based on information available through October 25, 2019. Since the process for budget allocation and spending is dynamic and since this report relies on a variety of not always consistent public sources of evidence, we ask readers to send additions, corrections or suggestions to this report to by December 1, 2019. In early 2020, we will release an update to this report including an analysis of the Mayor’s Preliminary 2021 Fiscal Year Budget as well as additions or corrections to this report.
Read the Report
Food Policy Highlights

Q&A with NYC Director of the Mayor's Office of Food Policy Kate MacKenzie. On October 7-9th, 2019, the Fifth Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP) Annual Gathering and Mayor's Summit took place in Montpellier, France. CUNY Food Policy Monitor asked NYC’s newly appointed Director of the Mayor’s Office of Food Policy Kate MacKenzie, who attended the Summit, to describe her experience there. We also asked Kate to share her views on the main ideas and themes discussed during the summit. There are 206 MUFPP signatory cities from around the world, including New York City. These cities have committed to advancing sustainable food systems that are inclusive, resilient, safe, and diverse. The MUFPP has also devised a shared indicator framework, This tool will help mayors in signatory cities track progress on the shared food policy goals. (See also the CUFPI’s chapter on the MUFPP metrics.)
Read the Q&A
Opinion | “Defending SNAP: Resisting Comment Fatigue” by Jan Poppendieck, Senior Faculty Fellow, CUFPI and Professor Emerita, Hunter College. The Trump administration is wearing me out. Every time I turn around, there is another egregious proposal from the Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service [FNS] to remove people from SNAP or cut their benefits. I think I am suffering from comment fatigue. With each successive proposed rule change, my comments have grown shorter and less technical, with fewer citations. Nevertheless, I continue to submit them. In case you, too, are tempted to pass up the opportunity to comment, here are some arguments to encourage you to take up your pen or open your laptop and exercise your right to participate in the regulatory process.
Read the Opinion
NYC Council’s Hearing on Growing Food Equity in NYC (Pt 2). On September 18, 2019, City Council held a joint public hearing of the Committees of Economic Development, Education, and General Welfare. The hearing allowed for public input on a comprehensive food policy package that included 14 bills and 2 resolutions. In this article, we review the hearing and explore three key questions: Which of the bills and resolutions received the greatest attention? Who testified and how were different domains of the food system represented at the hearing? What were some of the main types of recommendations that participants the proposed? CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute staff testified in support of the measures and recommended that the City take into consideration several key factors to ensure their effective implementation in the coming months and years. 
Read more
Public Charge Rule Implementation Blocked in Court. Federal judges blocked he “public charge” regulations which were scheduled to go into effect on October 15, 2019 by issuing preliminary injunctions, including nationwide injunctions from courts in New York, Washington, and Maryland. The CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute has been following the potential impact of the rule on immigrant access to food benefits since it was first proposed last year. Learn more by watching the video from this public forum on the topic. (See also our report on Expanding Immigrant Access to Food Benefits in NYC and FY20 Healthy Food for All Budget Requests Platform developed with contributions from immigrant rights organizations.)

A Tax on Soft Drinks in DC. On October 1, 2019 an 8% sales tax on sodas and drinks with natural or artificial sweeteners that contain less than 100% juice or at least 50% milk went into effect in Washington D.C. The annual revenue from the tax, an estimated $3.2 million, will help fund nutrition programs. (Read more at Some of the other cities where soda taxes are currently active include Seattle, WA (2018), Berkeley, CA (2015), San Francisco, CA (2016), Philadelphia, PA (2016), Oakland, CA (2016), Albany, CA (2016), and Boulder, CO (2016).

Fewer Rules for Pork Meat. A new rule by the USDA modified meat inspection standards for most pork processing plants. The rule reducesrestrictions on the speed of production lines and transfers food safety inspection responsibilities from federal government to the meatpackers themselves. In addition to potential risks for food safety, the change may risk the safety and wellbeing of workers and aggravate animal suffering. (Read more at and [See also commentary on recent research on red meat in this Issue of Food Policy Monitor.]

Fast-Food Workers Fight to Unionize. Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union is a Manhattan-based union with 175,000 members. At the end of September, working closely with The Fight for $15, the local launched an effort to unionize Chipotle and McDonald’s workers. New York State’s  Minimum Wage Act of 2016 already requires that fast-food employees have their minimum wages increased to $15 an hour. This increase is currently in effect and spreads to in all NYS in mind-2021. Moreover, in recent years NYC implemented fair work schedule legislation. Unions are key to ensuring the implementation of these recent legislative actions and for advocating for additional worker gains. (Read more at See also CUFPI’s Report on Food Policy in New York City since 2008 and the Fair Work Week legislative package including Local Laws 99, 100, 106, and 107 of 2017.

A 2019-20 NYC Policy Agenda by NYLCV. On October 2, 2019 New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund released a New York City Policy Agenda 2019-2020 which includes the goal of creating sustainable food systems by supporting the expansion of urban agriculture in NYC, ensuring healthy, local and affordable produce are accessible for every family, and expanding sustainability and healthy eating education program in NYC schools.
Food Policy from Elsewhere
In Memoriam: Marielle Dubbeling (1968-2019). The CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute is deeply sorrowed by news about the passing of Marielle Dubbeling, an inspirational world leader in the domain of city regional food systems and urban agriculture research, education, and policy and co-founder of RUAF. Marielle’s legacy will continue to live through the countless ideas, projects, and actions stemming from her work. These helped to lay the foundation for the growing global community of urban food system thinkers, government leaders, and community builders. We express our sincere condolences to Marielle’s family, colleagues at RUAF, and friends, in France and around the world. Please visit the RUAF website for the full article “In Memoriam” and the online book of condolences at
School Fruit. In Milan, Italy the project “Frutta a Metà Mattina” (“Fruits at mid-morning”), conceived by Milano Ristorazione in 2016 is back for the 2019/2020 school year. The project aims to improve eating habits among children attending elementary school and reduce the waste of uneaten fruit during lunch meals. Two years after the start of the first pilot of the program in June 2016, which involved more than 4,000 children, the program showed that consuming fruit (instead of other snacks) at mid-morning links to better appetite for lunch and reduces school food waste by 17%. In 2019/2020 the project will reach 75 schools and about 20,000 children (Learn more at
#scientists4lessmeat. In preparation for the MUFPP Summit, more than 230 scientists from 24 countries (as of 10/28/2019) have signed an open letter to mayors around the world calling for less meat and dairy in schools and hospitals to reduce Green House Gasses and improve health. The letter highlights cities that have taken the lead in this direction, and underscores that “New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams recently announced that all 1,700 NYC public schools will serve meatless meals every Monday. As a result, more than 1.1 million students will have a vegetarian meal every week.” (Read more at
Happy (Grocery) Hour. In Finland, a supermarket chain with 900 stores across the country – S-market – offers 60% discounts on items hard to sell and close to expiration at 9 p.m. every evening. The initiative of is part of a two-year “Happy Hour” campaign to reduce food waste at the supermarket. (Read full story at

Urban Food Forests. Indian Friends of Atlanta, an organization working to spread the culture and traditions of different Indian dialects, donated 100 fruit trees to be planted in Bryson Park in the Atlanta suburb of Lilburn. The city is one of the latest to plant fruit trees for the purpose of feeding the public. Food forests in the Atlanta region are a good example of urban agriculture that can contribute to two goals: providing fresh food for the region and decreasing the city’s heat island effect. (Read more on
Upcoming Events
URBAN FOOD POLICY FORUM | New York City & State Budgets and Food Spending

Thursday, October 31, 2019 | 9:30am – 11:00am
CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy, 55 West 125th Street, 7th Fl Auditorium New York, NY 10027 United States
More Info & RSVP to Forum
URBAN FOOD POLICY FORUM | Building Business Bridges: Urban-Rural Food Dynamics

Tuesday, November 19, 2019 | 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Note location and time: Baruch College, Robert Zicklin Center for Corporate Integrity, 151 East 25th Street, Room 750 New York, NY, 10010 United States
More Info & RSVP to Forum
  • November 7th, 2019 | 10am-5pm “Awaken, Activate, & Reflect on Solutions for a Just Food System” (see Event Flyer) - Food Day 2019 CUNY Kingsborough Community College. Keynote: Dr. Monica White, Author of Freedom Farmers, Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement.” More info:

Take Action!
Help NYC's ONLY Black-led Food Coop Open Doors in 2020! Contribute via Kickstarter by November 22, 2019 and help the “Central Brooklyn Food Coop: A Community Owned Grocery Store” opening in 2020 to reach their stretch goals #1, #2, and #3. They just surpassed their first goal of $25,000 and were awarded an USDA CFP grant! Currently, there are only a handful of Black-led food cooperatives in the nation. (Read more about their story at and
Comment Now! Proposed Rule on SNAP Cat-El/School Meals: Submit a public comment by November 1, 2019. Following an update of the estimated number of children potentially affected by the changes to the Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility rule for SNAP benefits released by the USDA on October 17, 2019, which increased the number of adversely affected from 500,000 to 982,000 children, the deadline for submitting a public comment has been extended through Friday November 1, 2019 (see also FRAC’s public comment portal). To be considered, comments must focus on the proposal’s impact on children and school meals. (See also Opinion article by Jan Poppendieck in this Issue of Food Policy Monitor).

Comment Now! Proposed Rule on SNAP HCSUA: Submit a public comment by December 2, 2019. Another proposed rule, which would cut SNAP by $4.5 billion over five years, was released by the USDA on October 3, 2019. The rule proposes changes to the way states calculate the Heating and Cooling Standard Utility Allowances (HCSUA) for SNAP for participating households and could translate in a loss of $30/month in SNAP benefits for approximately one-fifth of SNAP households. (see also FRAC’s public comment portal and Opinion article by Jan Poppendieck in this Issue of Food Policy Monitor)

Call for Book Chapter Proposals. “Food Policy and Politics: The Role of Public Administration in the U.S. Food System” The Editors of the proposed edited volume aim to fill a gap in current public administration literature and cover key topics in food studies, systems, and policy as they relate to public administration. Proposal submission deadline (between 500-1,000 words): December 1, 2019. See the call for proposals (See the Call for Proposals)
New Research
Read Meat, Science, and Truth. Earlier this month, a study published in Annals of Internal Medicine reported that a new analysis of five systematic reviews of the relationship between meat consumption and health concluded that most people can continue to consume red and processed meat without threat to health. This surprising finding contradicted dozens of previous studies and attracted newspaper headlines around the world. A few days later, however, the New York Times reported that the lead researcher on the study Bradley Johnston, an associate professor at Dalhousie University in Canada, had not disclosed his prior support from the International Life Sciences Institute(ILSI), a trade group supported by multinational food corporations included McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Cargill, one of the largest beef processors in North America.
Read Full Commentary
Nutrition Incentives for New Yorkers in Need. On September 17, 2019, the New York State Health Foundation released a comprehensive inventory and analysis of nutrition incentive programs in New York State. The programs help lower income residents purchase fresh food and vegetables and other healthy foods and have so far not been researched in a systematic way, authors of the report argue. The report also offers recommendations on how to make it easier for New Yorkers to participate in these programs and the need for a comprehensive evaluation to identify best practices for greater participation and more purchasing of healthier foods. (Link to full report)
Afterschool Supper. On October 23, 2019, the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) released its annual report on participation in afterschool suppers Afterschool Suppers: A Snapshot of Participation. The report found a 10.4 percent increase from the previous year. (Read full report at

Visualizing the Impact of a Weaker SNAP. On July 24, 2019, the United States Department (USDA) issued a proposed rule to eliminate SNAP categorical eligibility (public comment period ended on September 23, 2019, more than 75,000 comments were submitted; now reopened until November 1st, 2019 for comments on school meals only). In 20 states, more than 10 percent of SNAP households are slated to lose SNAP eligibility, including those with children and living in poverty. A new platform at, a project by RWJF, illustrates the impact of the proposal at the state level. (Link to research)

NYC Leverages Food Systems for #ClimateAction. A new report released by C40 and Nordic Sustainability – Cities100 – features New York City among 100 cities advancing forward-thinking and inclusive climate action projects worldwide. The report’s section dedicated to Sustainable Food Systems highlights New York City’s donateNYC Food Portal which, in the first 6 months of the initiative, has helped prevent 4.5 tons of food going to landfill. (Link to Cities100 report)

Global Atlas of Childhood Obesity. The first global atlas on childhood obesity, Atlas of Childhood Obesity, released on October 2, 2019 by the World Obesity Federation (WOF), shows that no country has a better than fifty percent chance of meeting their target for tackling childhood obesity. The United States is predicted to have over 16 million school-age children and youth (aged 5-19) living with obesity in 2030. (See the Atlas).
Institute News
Dr. Lori Dorman gave a Grand Rounds Lecture at CUNY SPH. On October 16, 2019 Lori Dorfman DrPH, MPH, Director of Berkeley Media Studies Group, gave a ground rounds lecture on “Junk food marketing to children of color: The current reality and what we can do about it,” jointly hosted by CUNY SPH and the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute. Dr. Dorfman talked about her team’s research on how food and beverage companies are using digital marketing to target children and youth (see, a project developed in partnership with the Center for Digital Democracy. In her presentation, she also shared concrete actions that kids, parents, advocates, researchers, and policymakers can take to help hold industry accountable and raise the visibility of targeted food and beverage marketing as a health equity issue. The PowerPoint slide deck developed by Dr. Dorfman’s team with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is available for free download.
Community Meeting to Explore Food Access Issues on the South Fork of Long Island. East End Food Institute co-hosted a community stakeholder meeting with Wholesome Wave in early October to explore the issues of food access on the South Fork. Facilitated by Nick Freudenberg, author and Director of CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute, the meeting gathered representatives from regional food banks and pantries, social service programs, and advocacy organizations to build partnerships and share information. Wholesome Wave has received funding to conduct research and plan a pilot program for the South Fork of Long Island that would create incentive programs aimed at equalizing food access. The partnership with CUNY will allow for a research component on program effectiveness.

What gets measured gets managed. CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute Research Director Dr. Nevin Cohen was interviewed for a produced by Wilfred Laurier University. Listen to the podcast here: Episode 2: What Gets Measured Gets Managed.

Food Policy Monitor Survey. There is still time! Please consider providing feedback on Food Policy Monitor by filling out our Newsletter Readers Survey: Take the survey!
Apply for the CUNY Food Justice Leadership Fellowship Program!  Submit your application here by November 1, 2019. For more information, or to receive an application form, please contact Valerie Chong Nigg at



Fluid image 1
Subscribe to this newsletter