CUNY Urban Food Policy Monitor
e-newsletter of the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute  

Eating without Reservation:  Ensuring Food Safety in New York City, A New Report from CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute
Why does food safety matter? How well do city, state and federal agencies protect New Yorkers from food-borne illnesses? In this new report, the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute summarizes available public evidence on these questions in order to engage health officials, policy makers, food justice advocates and eaters in a conversation on the state of food safety in New York City. Our goal is to provide information that can be used to ensure that New York City’s food safety system protects all New Yorkers against current and emerging threats to safe and healthy food. While other health professionals and scholars have written about specific dimensions of food safety in the city, no recent report has provided a comprehensive overview of the city’s food safety system, summarized the roles of city, state and federal governments, analyzed this complex system’s strengths and weaknesses, or made recommendations for meeting emerging needs. This month's Urban Food Policy Forum will also focus on Food Safety in New York City. The full report will be posted on our website by April 8, 2019
Read Executive Summary
"Healthy Food for All" Budget Requests Platform FY 2020
Several organizations and coalitions, which include frontline direct-service emergency food providers; anti-poverty, senior advocacy, and immigrants’ rights groups; public health and academic institutions; and healthy food retail advocates, have together developed a New York City and State Healthy Food for All Budget Request Platform as a unified approach to advocate for New York City and State budgets that contribute to reducing hunger and promoting access to healthy, affordable food for all New Yorkers. The platform includes active budget requests for city and state funding in Fiscal Year 2020 which will support concrete solutions to help New York City and State to continue to make progress in ending food insecurity and ensuring access to healthy affordable food for all New Yorkers. If your organization wants to endorse the platform, please email
View the Platform
NYC Preliminary Budget and Food
By Rositsa T. Ilieva
In February 2019 the City of New York released its FY20 Preliminary Budget Departmental Estimates and other financial reports such as the Citywide Savings Program, and the Register of Community Board Budget Requests (with City Agency responses in February). While City Council and Borough Presidents also have funds, that they can allocate for projects commonly addressed at district or borough needs, the City's expense budget – which includes annual expenses such as salaries and supplies, and capital budget – which guides investment in infrastructure and equipment lasting multiple years – are essential tools through which the city shapes food systems and policy. So, what do these preliminary FY20 City budget documents tell us about the City’s urban food system and the city agencies that govern it? We took a closer look at some of the numbers and here is what we found.
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You Can Help Protect SNAP for College Students
By Janet Poppendieck, Senior Fellow
In our February newsletter, we wrote about a SNAP rule change proposed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The new rule would increase hunger and food insecurity by restricting the ability of states to waive the time limits for receipt of SNAP by able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDS). [Read earlier article here].

The people of the State of New York would be particularly hard hit by the proposed rule. Nationally, USDA estimates that more than three quarters of a million current recipients would lose their SNAP benefits. Comments on this proposed USDA rule must be submitted by April 2.

Now our colleagues at the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) have alerted us to the potentially devastating impact of the proposed rule on low-income college students who attend less than half time. Students attending half time or more are subject to a different set of eligibility rules, and while these regulations urgently need to be changed, they would not be affected by the new proposed rule. Students attending less than half time, however, as are many students in New York City, would lose their SNAP benefits unless they can document 20 hours or more of work per week (or are otherwise exempt).
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Comment Period Open for 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
The federal Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services announce that a public comment period will remain open until early 2020 for Docket FNS-2019-0001, 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. For more information and/or to make a comment, go to Read Marion Nestle’s commentary on the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Committee here.
Upcoming Events
URBAN FOOD POLICY FORUM | Eating Without Reservation: Ensuring Food Safety in New York

Tuesday, March 26, 2019
9:00am – 10:30am
CUNY Graduate School of Public Health
55 West 125th Street, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10027

New York City has long been a national leader in defining municipal role for ensuring access to safe and healthy food. But why does food safety matter? How has the level of food safety in New York City changed in the last decade? What are the emerging threats to food safety in New York City and the nation? What else could New York City do to better prevent food-borne illnesses? On Tuesday March 26, join the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute and invited experts to explore these and other key questions.

Aprielle Wills, CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute Fellow, will present findings from the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute's forthcoming Food Safety Report.


RSVP to Forum
Our next Community Food Evaluation Workshop will be held on April 10, 2019 at 10am - topic and registration coming soon! For questions, please contact Katherine Tomaino Fraser at
Food Policy from Elsewhere
FDA Announces New Strategy for Protecting Imported Foods
By Aprielle Wills, MPH, CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute PhD Fellow
Note: While this column usually focuses on a food policy innovation from other cities or countries, this newly released strategy affects food in the entire United States and the countries from which we import food--thus, global food policy as a whole.

On February 25, 2019, the U.S. Food Drug Administration (FDA) released a new strategy for improving food safety of imported foods in the U.S.

Globalization of the U.S. food supply has increased rapidly in the last fifteen years. The U.S. imports 15 percent of its total food supply, largely due to consumer demand for diverse and high-quality food products. According to the report, 32% of fresh vegetables, 55% of fresh fruits and 94% of seafood consumed comes from imports sourced from more than 200 countries and 125,000 facilities and farms worldwide. Imported shipments of food to the U.S. are expected to climb to an impressive 15 million tons by end of this year.

The FDA, which works to ensure that all domestic and imported food consumed in the U.S. is safe according to U.S. safety and regulatory is working to meet an evolving and complex food supply chain. According to a press release issued by FDA commissioner Scott Gottleib, MD (who recently resigned this position) and deputy commissioner Frank Yiannis, “the result is more complex supply chains and increased specialization, where a single manufacturer responsible for a single ingredient could find it in many different finished products.” The goal of the agency is to communicate a new modern strategy “designed to leverage our different authorities and tools to provide a multi-layered, data-driven, smarter approach to imported food safety.”

Figure above: Import share of U.S. food consumption (by volume)

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Boston leads in innovating food procurement with citywide adoption of GFPP
On Wednesday, March 20, 2019 the Boston City Council passed unanimously an Ordinance (Docket #0139) to promote adoption of the Good Food Purchasing Standards in the City of Boston. This is the first East Coast city to take this forward-looking step citywide. In December last year, Washington DC City Council voted to confirm the city’s commitment towards implementing the Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP) for the city’s public schools. The GFPP standards for institutional food procurement offer a comprehensive framework for equitable, sustainable food sourcing and encompass five core values: local economies, environmental sustainability, valued workforce, animal welfare, and nutrition. In New York City, the Food Chain Workers Alliance, Community Food Advocates, and the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute are working together with a coalition of other organizations on the early stages of a GFPP campaign and advocating for citywide adoption of the program.
Recent Publications
GAO Releases Report including Comments on Food Safety
The federal government is one of the world’s largest and most complex entities; about $4.1 trillion in outlays in fiscal year 2018 funded a broad array of programs and operations. GAO’s high-risk program identifies government operations with vulnerabilities to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, or in need of transformation to address economy, efficiency, or effectiveness challenges.  This report includes a section on Food Safety (pp. 195-197) entitled “Improving Federal Oversight of Food Safety.” The report recommends that the President should develop a national strategy for food safety that, among other things, establishes sustained leadership, identifies resource requirements, and describes how progress will be monitored. View the report. 
Institute News
Dr. Nevin Cohen Lectures on Food Metrics at the Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems
On March 14, Nevin Cohen presented a guest lecture at the Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems called Food Metrics 3.0: Unearthing Hidden Data. The lecture was hosted by FLEdGE: Food Locally Embedded, Globally Engaged, a research and knowledge sharing partnership among seven Canadian regional nodes of practitioners and researchers and three international working groups.

Dr. Cohen discussed the importance of food metrics as a lever for social change and described three generational phases of food metrics, from the simple PDF with charts (Food Metrics 1.0) to interactive websites populated by so-called big data (Food Metrics 3.0). Food Metrics 1.0 are often curated by city agencies, food policy coordinators, and sometimes food policy councils.

Cohen suggested how practitioners and advocates can augment existing food data with new sources and new, accessible technologies, moving their cities from 1.0 to 3.0.
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Partner News
Community Food Advocates (CFA) Release One year Report on Universal School Lunch
Universal School Lunch in NYC Year One Insights from High School Cafeterias is a new report from Community Food Advocates (CFA) which details learnings from high schools one year after the Universal School Lunch program began.  Read the report.



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