On March 16, 2022, the Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy joined food policy centers from across New York City to launch a series of seven policy briefs that provide guidance to the current NYC administration, the City Council, and other stakeholders on how to improve emergency and non-crisis food systems. The briefs were created as part of NY Food 2025 - a collaboration of the Tisch Food Center, the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center, and the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute. The event was moderated by Lisa Held of Civil Eats and Mark Levine, Manhattan Borough President, Gabrielle Blavatsky, Co-Founder and Policy Director of Equity Advocates, and Maritza Owens, CEO of Harvest Home, joined the conversation to discuss the content and utility of the policy recommendations.
The policy brief series, entitled “NY Food 2025: Policy Recommendations for a Stronger, Healthier, More Just, and Sustainable Food System in NYC”, builds on the group’s earlier report - New York Food 20/20: Vision, Research, and Recommendations During COVID-19 and Beyond. The 2020 report discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on New York City’s food system and food workforce. The NY Food 2025 policy briefs identify seven key goals that NYC’s food policies and programs must aim to address as the pandemic draws to a close, including:
- Reducing food insecurity
- Improving healthy food access
- Reducing the ubiquity of unhealthy food
- Promoting recovery, growth and resiliency of the food economy
- Ensuring food workers’ rights and protections
- Improving coordination and monitoring of food policy
- Increasing public control and ownership of the food system
Katherine Tomaino Fraser, Director of Evaluation at the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute, spoke about the need to continue to explore policy solutions post-pandemic. “Today, we want to highlight some of our key learnings from this period that emerged from our analysis of the impacts of COVID-19 on our food system, our monitoring of the recovery effort, and the need for post pandemic food policy making that builds on innovations from the crisis period.”
Dr. Sara Abiola, Executive Director of the Tisch Food Center, identified food security as a central concern post-pandemic. “We propose that the City work with State and Federal agencies to continue to expand SNAP benefits to enable more individuals to purchase nutritionally adequate food in times of need, with a focus on minimally processed fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.” Dr. Abiola also shared that the food security policy brief recommends that the City allocate additional funding for institutional kitchen infrastructure upgrades and professional development of kitchen staff. “Having the skills and tools to prepare and safely store perishable foods is essential to increase freshly prepared and plant-based meals that are appealing in schools and other institutional settings,” she stated.
Iliana Garcia, Deputy Director of the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center, highlighted the importance of improving the nutritional quality of food assistance programs. “Going forward, the City must ensure that all participating food pantries and soup kitchens have the necessary infrastructure and training to distribute fresh produce through their programs,” she stated. Garcia emphasized that food sites must have the proper refrigeration and storage and staff must have the proper food safety training and systems in place to monitor and rotate foods. The relevant policy brief urges the City to increase funding to emergency food programs for infrastructure updates to support fresh food procurement.
Beyond creating healthy food options, the policy briefs also discuss the importance of limiting exposure to unhealthy food. Tomaino Fraiser discussed policy recommendations that build on Executive Order 9 and S7487A- NY State Senate’s proposed Prevention of Predatory Marketing Act- and aim to regulate and restrict the promotion of unhealthy food in public facilities. The policy brief authors argued that, taken together, the policy recommendations presented in the seven briefs could lead to a more equitable food system that provides all New Yorkers with access to nutritious and culturally appropriate foods.
Watch a recording of the webinar here:
The complete set of seven policy briefs are currently available here on the NYfood2025.org website.