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

Bringing the Good Food Purchasing Program to New York City
The Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP) is a comprehensive effort to harness the power of institutional food procurement to achieve social, environmental, and economic goals through the promotion of better food purchasing practices. Specifically, the program provides a metric-based, flexible framework that prioritizes five core values: local economies, environmental sustainability, valued workforce, animal welfare, and nutrition. With more than 100 national, state, and local food system experts providing recommendations and feedback on the policy, the GFPP is the first procurement model to support these five values in equal measure.

In New York City, several organizations including the Food Chain Workers Alliance, Community Food Advocates and the City University of New York (CUNY) Urban Food Policy Institute, and the national Center for Good Food Purchasing joined forces in 2016 to create the NYC Good Food Purchasing Campaign and to build a coalition of local supporters. This summary of a forthcoming report by researchers at the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute provides an overview of food procurement at two New York City agencies– the Human Resources Administration (HRA) and the Agency for Children’s Services (ACS). The study identified several facilitators and barriers that HRA and the emergency food providers it supports and ACS and the early care centers it funds encounter in their food procurement programs. Of note, both early care centers and emergency food providers identified alignments between their existing procurement practices and the values GFPP promotes. The forthcoming report explores in detail the findings from the case studies at HRA and ACS and examines their implications for the adoption of the GFPP in New York City.
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New federal definition of poverty risks food security for millions of American
On May 7, the US Office of Management and Budget proposed a change in how the federal poverty level is calculated. Currently, 14.6% of the United States population officially lives below the poverty line; however, the current criteria for poverty have been criticized for excluding individuals who cannot financially meet their current basic needs. If the proposed change is enacted, it will remove millions of individuals from living below the official poverty line, by using a lower inflation measure. Such a change will exclude them from life-saving government assistance programs, and due to the structure of the inflation measure used, each year fewer individuals will qualify. People living in poverty are more likely to experience higher rates of preventable diseases, food insecurity, unsafe living conditions, homelessness, shorter lifespans, and mental health problems. You can submit an official public comment on the proposal here by June 14, 2019.
Commentary: Two cheers for the half empty glass of soda: New York City’s New Happy Healthy Meals Bill
At the end of March, the New York City Council passed and sent to the Mayor legislation that  requires restaurants and other food service establishments to serve water, low-fat milk or 100% juice as the default drinks with children’s meals, rather than soda or other sugary drinks. Parents can still request these less healthy options but healthier choices will become the default option.  The law will go into effect on May 1, 2020 and will impose monetary penalties on restaurants that violate it. This new law, know as Local Law 75 of 2019, adds a new tool to the public health goal of reducing sugar consumption but also sets the stage for additional reforms.
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New York City's Strategic Plan OneNYC 2050: Key Food-Related Goals and Initiatives
In April 2019, the Office of the Mayor of New York City released OneNYC 2050 – a nine-volume strategic plan to “confront our climate crisis, achieve equity, and strengthen our democracy” in New York City. To highlight some of the specific ways in which OneNYC 2050 weaves food systems objectives across its different chapters, CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute researchers examined the report through the prism of six broad food policy goals – nutritional well-being, food security, economic development, environmental sustainability, food workers, and food democracy. The goals were outlined in the Institute’s report on Food Policy in New York City Since 2008 which pointed out key future priorities for NYC’s food policy agenda.
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Where Do Food Banks Fit in the Fight for a Green New Deal?
Maggie Dickinson, Assistant Professor at Guttman Community College and Faculty Fellow at the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute, and Joshua Lohnes, a researcher at Food Justice Lab, argue that this is a crucial time to consider the key role that food charities have to play in rewriting the rules of our food system. By establishing a federal jobs guarantee and regulating food waste, Green New Deal legislation could upend the persistence of food insecurity and poverty in the United States. Proposals to reform our food system and provide living wage jobs would make it possible for food charities currently operating in austere philanthropic environments to think beyond maintaining their volunteer labor force and scrambling to recover food from large firms. Read full article on
SNAP Online Pilot begins in NYC
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has just launched a pilot in New York State allowing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants to buy food online with their benefits. Amazon and ShopRite are the initial New York City retailers and Walmart will serve upstate shoppers. More retailers and cities will soon follow, and if the pilot succeeds in the next two years, the USDA plans to extend it retailers nationwide, covering the nearly 40 million Americans who received $60 billion in SNAP benefits in 2018.

Through this change, SNAP participants will have access to vastly broader food options, at competitive prices, from their living rooms. When this happens we will have to rethink the conventional notion of a food desert—a neighborhood with limited supermarket access. Read the full article on
Fast Food Justice Legislation Introduced
Francis Gomez vividly remembers the day she was fired from her cashier job at a Taco Bell in Queens, New York. Just before last Christmas, she showed up for her shift when a manager told her, “Don’t clock in; you’re terminated.” The firing stunned Gomez, 27, who had worked on and off for the fast food chain since 2014.

“I was completely surprised. I was accused of disrespecting a customer, but there was no customer complaint,” she said. “When I asked for a letter, I was basically told, ‘You’re already terminated, so it doesn’t matter.’”

Taco Bell hasn’t responded to Civil Eats’ request for comment about its firing practices, but stories like Gomez’s are one of the reasons New York City Councilmembers Brad Lander and Adrienne Adams have introduced “just cause” legislation to give fast-food workers more job protection. The bill prohibits fast-food companies from firing workers or significantly reducing their hours without a stated reason and would give employees the chance to correct their behavior before termination. With this legislation, New York City could lead the nation in offering more job security for fast-food workers. Read full article on
On Our Radar:
Int 1058-2018 would require the Department of City Planning to develop a comprehensive urban agriculture plan that addresses land use policy and other issues to promote the expansion of urban agriculture in the City. The Department would be required to deliver such plan to the Mayor and the Speaker of the Council by July 1, 2019. On June 11, this plan is on the agenda for the City Council’s Committee on Land Use meeting.
Upcoming Events
Equity and the Public Plate

Thursday, May 30, 2019
9:00am – 10:30am
CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy
55 West 125th Street, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10027

Equity and the Public Plate: How the Good Food Purchasing Program is helping to transform the way New York and other cities buy food.

Cities across the United States and abroad agree that current food systems are not serving the public interest. Public food procurement – or the share of a city’s food supply funded by government and government-sponsored institutions – is, arguably, one of the most effective tools that municipalities have to instigate a radical transformation of the current urban food system. One approach being used by cities is the Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP), a metric based, flexible framework that encourages large institutions to direct their buying power toward five core values: local economies, environmental sustainability, valued workforce, animal welfare, and nutrition. As adoption of good food purchasing policies expands across the East Coast and the US as a whole, and a campaign to bring the GFPP to New York City gains traction, what can New York learn from the experiences of other cities? What sorts of obstacles should municipalities expect when embarking on more ambitious food procurement goals, such as those recently announced in the OneNYC 2050 plan? And, what strategies could city leaders employ to effectively surmount these obstacles? On May 30, join the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute and invited experts to explore these and other key questions.

More Info & RSVP to Forum
March for Healthy School Food - June 9
Join Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, NYC Healthy School Food Alliance, Balanced, along with parents, children, nutritionists, doctors, teachers, nonprofit leaders, elected officials as we MARCH FOR HEALTHY SCHOOL FOOD in NYC! The rally will begin with poster making at 11am at Cadman Plaza North and then continue with a MARCH across the Brooklyn Bridge to the steps of City Hall for rallying and speeches from leaders in the field of wellness in the schools! Please join us and share widely!
Our next Community Food Evaluation Workshop is scheduled for 10am on June 20, 2019 at the CUNY School of Public Health. Please contact Katherine Tomaino Fraser at with any questions!
Food Policy from Elsewhere
Q and A on Food Eco-Labels: An Interview with Jason J. Czarnezki
In April 2019 New York City passed its “Climate Mobilization Act” and released OneNYC 2050, a long-term strategic plan for the city’s resilient and equitable development. The plan acknowledges that “[w]e need to eliminate our contributions to climate-change-causing GHG emissions and build neighborhoods and infrastructure that support sustainable lifestyles and consumption, while creating economic opportunity for all.” So, a key question for those of us invested in food policy, is how can food regulations help cities and nations effectively lower their carbon footprint? Earlier in October 2018, Denmark also released its 2050 Climate Plan “Together for a Greener Future,” including a specific strategy introducing carbon labelling for food products.

To consider the relevance of food eco-labels and the Denmark carbon food label proposal for food policy in New York City, CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute Director of Food Policy Monitor Rositsa T. Ilieva interviewed Jason J. Czarnezki, author of “The Future of Food Eco-Labeling” and “Crafting Next Generation Eco-Label Policy,” Associate Dean and Executive Director of Environmental Law Programs, and Gilbert and Sarah Kerlin Distinguished Professor of Environmental Law at Pace University.
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Recent Publications
Food insecurity associated with increased obesity among Latino youth
In the United States, food insecurity is associated with overweight and obesity, perhaps because food insecure populations have limited time and resources to engage in healthy eating or exercise.
Previous research found an association between lower food security and higher body mass index (BMI) or overweight/obesity among US adults but studies of food insecurity and obesity among children and adolescents have had far less consistent results.

Ethnographic studies of Latino and other immigrant populations have shed light on how generational or intergenerational status (ie, country of nativity between parents and their children) independently affect individual or family BMI, although these results have been inconsistent.

To investigate the joint effect of generational status and food insecurity on obesity prevalence among Latino youth, Assistant Professor and CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute Faculty Fellow Karen Flórez led a study recently published in the journal Pediatric Obesity. Read full article on
Assessing attitudes and readiness for a sugar sweetened beverage-free healthcare center
In a study published in the multi-disciplinary peer-reviewed journal PLOS One, CUNY SPH Associate Professor and CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute Faculty Fellow Chris Palmedo and Lauren Gordon, Research Project Manager at the Mount Sinai Health System, assess the readiness for a sugar sweetened beverage-free zone at a community health clinic in the Bronx, NY. Read full article on
Institute News
NY Times highlights food insecurity on college campuses
The New York Times ran an expose on student hunger, citing research from CUNY and Temple University, and quoting Distinguished Professor and Institute Director Nicholas Freudenberg.  Read full article on


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