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Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy

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Public Policy

The Tisch Food Center explores the policies and practices that create opportunities for or barriers to good food and nutrition education. We seek to provide evidence and analyses for advocates and policy makers that can shape policy to create an environment supportive of food and nutrition education and access to good food in schools and communities.


Ongoing Research

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Empowered Eaters: A Road Map for Stronger New York City Nutrition Education Policies and Programs

Given today's pressing need for great nutrition education, alongside accessible and affordable healthy food, we set out to ask the question: how is our government responding? This question led to over two years of research into the landscape of federal, state and local investment in nutrition education. The result is this report, along with a companion report focused on New York State. 

"Empowered Eaters: A Road Map for Stronger New York City Nutrition Education Policies and Programs" focuses on the 42 federal, state, and city nutrition education initiatives which New York City agencies administered in federal fiscal year (FY) 2016. To determine the landscape of nutrition education initiatives, we reviewed relevant legal, programmatic, and funding data sources. We also conducted 55 interviews with 80 key city agency officials, local providers, researchers, and advocates. 

The report outlines the legislative, political, and regulatory processes that create, the source(s) that fund, and the agencies that administer these initiatives. We discuss the federal, state, and city health, social service, education, elder, child care, and agricultural policies that authorize nutrition education initiatives. We also describe supports for, and barriers to, publicly supported nutrition education in New York City. 

Report Goals:

1. Help city agency and elected officials, local providers, researchers, and advocates navigate the landscape of public nutrition education by:

  • Illustrating federal and state initiatives that can support nutrition education in New York City;

  • Providing a snapshot of city-administered initiatives that can support nutrition education in federal scal year (FY) 2016;

  • Describing supports for, and barriers to, public nutrition education in New York City.

2. Recommend ways to expand the scope, reach, and sustainability of nutrition education; enhance local providers’ capacity; and align and elevate publicly supported nutrition education in New York City.

Ultimately, this report provides a road map to strengthen the public systems that can help New Yorkers eat well throughout their lives, in all of the places where they live, work, learn, worship, and play. 

Report coming soon!

 

Support for this work was provided by the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth). The mission of NYSHealth is to expand health insurance coverage, increase access to high-quality health care services, and improve public and community health. The views presented here are not necessarily those of the New York State Health Foundation or its directors, officers, and staff.  

Empowered Eaters: A Road Map for Stronger New York State Nutrition Education Policies and Programs

Given today's pressing need for great nutrition education, alongside accessible and affordable healthy food, we set out to ask the question: how is our government responding? This question led to over two years of research into the landscape of federal, state and local investment in nutrition education. The result is this report, along with a companion report focused on New York City. 

"Empowered Eaters: A Road Map for Stronger New York State Nutrition Education Policies and Programs" focuses on the 32 nutrition education initiatives which New York State government administered in federal fiscal year (FY) 2016. To determine the landscape of nutrition education initiatives, we reviewed relevant legal, programmatic, and funding data sources. We also conducted 47 interviews with 62 key state agency officials, local providers, researchers, and advocates. 

The report outlines the legislative, political, and regulatory processes that create, the source(s) that fund, and the agencies that administer these initiatives. We discuss the federal and state health, social service, education, elder, child care, and agricultural policies that authorize nutrition education initiatives. We also describe supports for, and barriers to, publicly supported nutrition education in New York State. 

Report Goals:

1. Help state agency and elected officials, local providers, researchers, and advocates navigate the landscape of public nutrition education by:

  • Illustrating federal and state initiatives that can support nutrition education in New York State;

  • Providing a snapshot of state-administered initiatives that can support nutrition education in federal fiscal year (FY) 2016;

  • Describing supports for, and barriers to, public nutrition education in New York State.

2. Recommend ways to expand the scope, reach, and sustainability of nutrition education; enhance local providers’ capacity; and align and elevate publicly supported nutrition education in New York State.

Ultimately, this report provides a road map to strengthen the public systems that can help New Yorkers eat well throughout their lives, in all of the places where they live, work, learn, worship, and play. 

 

Report will be available in November 2017. 

 

Support for this work was provided by the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth). The mission of NYSHealth is to expand health insurance coverage, increase access to high-quality health care services, and improve public and community health. The views presented here are not necessarily those of the New York State Health Foundation or its directors, officers, and staff.  

Expanding Nutrition Education Programs in New York City Elementary Schools: Understanding Practice to Inform Policy

There are now many food and nutrition education programs that are run by non-profit organizations, government agencies, and universities that work in schools in New York City. Yet, little was known about how many such programs exist, their reach across schools, and if they were reaching schools that need these programs most, i.e. in neighborhoods with low income and high childhood obesity rates. For the 2011-12 school year, we analyzed the scope, distribution, and attributes of 20 nutrition education programs that work in schools. We looked at three New York City boroughs—Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens—and included all 614 public elementary schools in these three boroughs. Key findings from the study include:     

  • The nutrition education programs (NEPs) described in the report vary widely and utilize multiple activities and strategies for learning, such as teaching nutrition lessons in science, health, and other academic subjects.

  • Schools using NEPs expand their capacity to provide food and nutrition education, with some schools having multiple NEPs for different grades.

  • Nutrition education programs are conducted through strong public-private partnerships that include the NYC Department of Education and an array of nonprofits, universities and funders.

  • Despite these successes, more schools clearly need to have access to NEPs. Only 39% of schools in the three boroughs that were studied had an NEP in their school. Sixty-one percent of these schools did not have an NEP.

  • While NEPs are reaching some of the highest-need schools—defined as schools with a high percentage of students who qualify for free/reduced price lunch, or schools in neighborhoods with high chronic disease rates—these schools offer proportionately fewer programs than their lower-need peers.

  • Although almost half of the programs receive some funding from New York City government, few receive funding at the state or federal level. Most NEPs receive at least some funding from foundations and corporations.

Related Publications:

2017 Update:

We are currently investigating the state of nutrition education programs in NYC schools in 2016-17, building on and expanding our 2011-12 study. A forthcoming report will describe the recent state of NEPs, including traits and funding sources, how they are distributed throughout schools, and whether they are reaching schools that need them the most. We are also creating an online database of NYC NEPs. Report and database will be available in December 2017.

 


Completed Research

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For people to be able to make healthy food and physical activity decisions, the better choices need to be the easy ones, i.e. available, affordable, and desirable. The mission of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation-funded NYC Food and Fitness Partnership is to use policy and system changes that make “the healthy choice the easy choice” by creating equitable access to healthy, quality, affordable foods and opportunities for active living, starting in the neighborhoods of highest need. Our role in the partnership in Central Brooklyn from 2009-2012 was to evaluate progress toward the partnerships goals, using evaluation forms called “cross site tools." These tools tracked who was involved at the partnership and at what level, what resources were used as leverages, progress toward policies and system changes, and stories that shared the path to policy change.

Many schools are establishing gardens as a way to beautify the grounds, teach core academics and nutrition education, improve diet outcomes for students, build interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, and increase opportunities for physical activity. For this study, we explored how to establish gardens successfully so that they become a valued learning tool, part of the school culture, and a sustained scholastic program. We worked closely with Grow to Learn NYC, a program through GrowNYC, that registers and supports school gardens, to learn more about how some of the most successful school gardens work in the city. This research will result in evidence-based policy recommendations for how to institutionalize and sustain school gardens.