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

Paths to Youth Food Activism: An Interview with Amy Kwan
Amy Kwan is a recent graduate of the Doctor of Public Health program at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy. She is also an experienced staff person for several youth and community organizations and has participated in many participatory community health research studies. Amy’s doctoral dissertation From Food to Food Justice: Pathways and Narratives of Young Food Activists In New York City was completed in 2017. In this interview, Nicholas Freudenberg, CUNY Distinguished Professor of Public Health, Director of the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute, and Amy’s dissertation faculty sponsor, asks her about the findings from her dissertation project.
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Report Released:
Eating without Reservation:  Ensuring Food Safety in New York City
Every day, more than 2.7 million New York City residents and visitors order food from one of the city’s 26,000 restaurants or more than 5,000 food trucks or carts. Every day, 11 city agencies serve more than 915,000 meals or snacks to the city’s school children, public hospital patients, senior center clients, jail inmates and homeless shelter residents. The one thing these food serving outlets have in common is they are required to follow the food safety standards that New York City enforces for all food service facilities. The new CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute report “Eating Without Reservation: Ensuring Food Safety in New York City” describes what city, state and federal agencies are doing to prevent foodborne illness in New York City and what food safety challenges the city’s food safety system will face in the coming years.
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Food Democracy's Long, Hard Slog
By Mark Winne
Mark Winne reflects on food democracy and his recent guest talk at the CUNY Urban Food Policy Forum on Practicing Food Democracy. He makes the case that food democracy should help the community to “hold both the public and private sectors accountable for resolving moral challenges according to a strong ethical framework.”  Read Mark's article.
Lawsuit Against Trump Administration Over Reductions in School Lunch Standards
Attorney General Letitia James, leading a multistate coalition, earlier this month filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration for illegally weakening key federal nutritional standards for breakfasts and lunches served to nearly 30 million  schoolchildren in the United States. The coalition contends that the Trump Administration’s Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) rollback of sodium limits and whole grain requirements for school meals lacks legally-mandated scientific basis, and, in further violation of law, was adopted without public notice and opportunity to comment. The CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute highlighted this rollback in its 2018 Hall of Shame earlier this year. Read more
NYS FY20 Budget: NYS Eliminates Fee for Reduced-Price School Meals and Increases HPNAP Funding
On April 1, 2019 New York State enacted its FY 2020 Executive Budget and added $2.3 million in funding to subsidize reduced-price school meals and $500,000 for increased services the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program (HPNAP), funded at $35 million. The elimination of the reduced-price copayment provision will help expand participation in breakfasts in NYC, where a universal free lunch policy was adopted in September 2017, and breakfasts and lunches across the State. “New York State is now the largest state to eliminate the reduced-price student fee for school meals,” says Sherry Tomasky, Director of Public Affairs at Hunger Solutions New York. Read the full article. These and other anti-hunger provisions part the FY20 Budget help further the goal of ensuring access to healthy food for all in New York State, in line with the NY City and State “Healthy Food for All” Budget Request Platform which CUFPI announced last month.
Upcoming Events
URBAN FOOD POLICY FORUM | Generation Food: Youth Programming & the Food Justice Movement

Thursday, April 25, 2019
9:00am – 11:00am
CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy
55 West 125th Street, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10027

For decades, young people have been at the forefront of highlighting injustices and advocating for more equitable and democratic approaches to solving our nation’s and world’s most serious problems. They are a driving force for social improvement, and their passion, commitment and energy have been the fuel for many social movements including those that seek food justice. Food justice describes the goal of creating equitable food systems that promote human and planetary well-being for all, regardless of race, income, gender, profession, or residence. On April 25th, join the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute along with youth food justice leaders and youth food justice program coordinators to discuss youth leadership in the food justice movement.  We will critically analyze how young people are finding opportunities and overcoming obstacles to shaping local, national and global food environments and food systems.

More Info & RSVP to Forum
Our next Community Food Evaluation Workshop will discuss Qualitative Methods for Evaluating Community Food Work such as focus groups, observations, and interviews and will be held at 10am on May 9, 2019 at the CUNY School of Public Health in room 717. Please contact Katherine Tomaino Fraser at with any questions!
Register for Workshop
Food Policy from Elsewhere
Food Sovereignty and Citizen-driven Initiatives in Madrid
By Julia Díez, PhD Candidate University of Alcalá and Manuel Franco, Associate Professor University of Alcalá and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Globalization and neoliberal policies are shaping current food and agricultural systems. Food in cities and certain ideas regarding local food systems have emerged as counter-movements. As formulated in The Declaration of Nyéléni,* food sovereignty refers to “the right of people to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It puts those who produce, distribute, and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations.” This declaration is a transformative paradigm, which entails the inclusion of diverse social actors in the processes of consultation, planning and decision-making. A recent example from the city of Madrid shows how to bring citizens to the heart of urban governance processes.
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Newly Enacted NYS Executive Budget includes Legislation to Reduce Plastic & Organic Food Waste in NY State
On April 12, 2019 New State Governor Cuomo signed into law Senate Bill S1508 including legislation necessary for implementation of the State’s transportation, economic development and environmental conservation budget for the State 2019-2020 fiscal year. The bill included a Food scraps disposal prohibition (Title 22, Section 27-2209) and a Plastic carryout bag ban (Title 28, Section 27-2803). Effective March 2020 plastic carryout bags (see also our February post on Plastic-free Foodscapes) will be banned in the State, with few exceptions, and a 5-cent fee may be imposed on paper bags at the discretion of individual cities and counties. Additionally, effective January 2022, establishments which produce more than 2 tons of food waste per week will be required to donate the unsold products and dispose of their food scraps at a local organics recycling facility located within a 25-mile radius from their site. Read more about the legislation here and here.
New Food Standards Aim to Improve Human and Environmental Health in Tandem
Following the adoption of the Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP) passed by the Boston City Council on March 20, 2019 (Ordinance Docket #0139), Harvard University released the Harvard’s Sustainable Healthful Food Standards for food served by the university earlier this week. 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. Read more about the GFPP and its recent adoption in other cities here.
Recent Publications
Burden of Household Food Insecurity in Urban Slum Settings
By Dr. Ashish Joshi and colleagues
This newly published research article by Ashish Joshi – Professor and Senior Associate Dean of Student & Academic Affairs at CUNY SPH – and colleagues (2019) examines the burden of food insecurity in India’s un-notified slums, using an SDG framework to identify correlates of food insecurity. A total sample of 907 study participants were included. Results show that 43% (n = 393) of the participants were food insecure. More than half were females (73%, n = 285), who had not completed any schooling (51% n = 202). One-third (n = 128) resided in the Northern Region of Delhi. SDG-related predictors of food insecurity included: household educational level (SDG 4 Quality education) (p = 0.03), coverage of health service needs (SDG 3 Good health and well-being) (p = 0.0002), electricity needs (SDG 7 affordable and clean energy) (p<0.0001), and employment needs (SDG 8 Decent and economic growth) (p = 0.003). Read the full article on PLoS ONE.
Hidden in Plain Sight: Learning from Chinatown's Product Distribution System
Review by Dr. Nevin Cohen, Research Director
New York’s Chinatown has a century-old produce distribution system that supplies the city with more than 200 types of extremely low-cost fresh fruits and vegetables that are sourced from hundreds of small- and midsize biodiverse farms and distributed to a network of vendors and restaurants. Yet this remarkable supply chain has been overshadowed by the gigantic Hunts Point terminal market and the distribution channels operated by the major supermarket chains. Read full review.
Institute News
Town Hall Meeting on Food Insecurity on College Campuses
On March 25, 2019, CUNY TV broadcast a Town Hall Meeting on Food Insecurity on College Campuses. Speakers included Joel Berg, CEO, Hunger Free America; Camesha Grant, Vice-President of Community Connections, Reach for Food Bank NYC; Deborah Harte, Director of the food pantry and Single Stop program, Borough of Manhattan Community College; Avery Toledo, Graduate, of Hostos Community College and CUNY School of Law and a former user of CUNY food security programs; and Nicholas Freudenberg, Distinguished Professor of Public Health at CUNY and Director of the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute.

Freudenberg noted that his surveys of CUNY undergraduates showed that more than 50,000 CUNY undergraduate students are food insecure, presenting CUNY, New York City and State with the opportunity to invest now to end this entirely preventable deterrent to academic success at CUNY. One concrete step, he said, would be for CUNY to launch a robust campaign to enroll all eligible CUNY students into SNAP, the nation's largest safety net and poverty reduction program, and to advocate for New York State to join Connecticut, New Jersey and other states in making it easier for low-income college students to enroll in SNAP.  Watch the broadcast here.
CUFPI Report Reviewed by Urban Food Futures
Over the last decade, New York has developed a wide array of food policies both at the city and state level. It is now regarded as one of the pioneering cities for urban food policies. However, to date, there had been no systematic effort to take a step back and look at the full picture of what these policies had achieved. Read full article here. 
Floriade Dialogues Summit talk by Dr. Nevin Cohen
On March 28, Nevin Cohen was invited to speak at the Floriade Dialogues Summit, an event held in the Dutch city of Almere, to discuss how food policies can contribute to public health and sustainability. Dr. Cohen’s talk, Cultivating Upstream: Urban Agriculture for a Healthier New York City, argued that the most significant health benefits of urban agriculture come from farming’s effects on the social determinants of health. He described urban agriculture projects in New York City that provide job training to unskilled youth and economic opportunities to entrepreneurs, increase community cohesion and civic engagement to address social inequality, and support social resilience to vulnerable communities facing the effects of climate change-related weather events. These examples, found in cities around the world, illustrate how urban planners and policymakers can design programs to ensure that farms and gardens tackle the complex issues of economic and social inequality that contribute to health disparities.  Read more.
Dr. Nevin Cohen weighs in on Urban Agriculture & the Farm Bill
A new article published in Agri Pulse, and highlighted by City Farmer News, features an interview with Institute’s Research Director Dr. Nevin Cohen on the importance of the precedent-setting provisions for urban agriculture in the new US Farm Bill, signed into law last December 22, 2018. Read full article.
Partner News
Active Citizen Project (ACP) is seeking a full-time Community Health Advisor for Project EATS (PE).This role is a key component of Project EATS’ strategy in 2019 for expanding and implementingcommunity health programs which cultivate a sense of community surrounding PE farms. For more info, click here.



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