New York City Food Policy Watch
November 2013
New York City Food Policy Watch is the monthly e-newsletter of the New York City Food Policy Center at Hunter College. We keep an eye on food policy in New York City and on urban food policy around the nation and the world. We also provide updates on our own policy analyses and research activities and on the food policy activities of City University of New York faculty, students and staff. To subscribe to our newsletter click here >>>

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Food Policy Research in NYC: What Do We Know?

Where Do We Need to Go?

In the last decade, food policy and food policy research have made great leaps in New York City. On October 22nd, the NYC Food Policy Center sponsored a seminar in which researchers from several New York City institutions summarized their research findings in food policy and identified priorities for the next period. A specific goal of the forum was to begin to formulate research priorities that can inform the food policy agenda of the next Mayor and City Council.

NYC Food by the Numbers: 

The City's Public Plate  

- Part 1 - Schools

Each year, New York City governments provides more than 270 million meals and snacks in city agencies such as schools, hospitals, child care centers, senior centers and jails. Schools account for 66% of these meals and snacks. What some have called New York City's "public plate" is a vital but understudied part of New York City's food system. In a forthcoming report, the New York City Food Policy Center will profile this public plate and suggest strategies for strengthening its ability to improve the nutrition of New York City's most vulnerable populations.   


The Advocate: 

Interview with Chef and Foodie Michel Nischan   


This is the second in a series of interviews with food policy advocates

Michel Nischan is a maverick chef and an advocate for improving our food system. He is also the winner of a James Beard Award, an author and a catalyst for change in the sustainable food movement. Michel is a supporter of "sustainable farming, local and regional food systems and heritage recipes." He is founder and owner of Dressing Room, his home-grown restaurant in Westport, Conn., and the founder of Wholesome Wave, an organization dedicated to nourishing neighborhoods by supporting increased production and access to healthy, fresh and affordable locally grown food for the well-being of all. I had an opportunity to do an email interview with Michel; here is a selection of  his responses. 

Food Policy Watch (FPW): Tell us about your overall food philosophy. What have you learned in the last  20 years that you would like to impart to us?

Michel: I believe that food, as a single subject, has more impact on human health, environmental health, ecological health, societal health and economic health than any other subject. This philosophy took shape when my son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, causing me to research all diabetes and its significant impact on families struggling with poverty...

Read the full interview with Michel Nischan here>>>
Free eBook: The Healthy Food Financing Handbook: From Advocacy to Implementation

We ran across this and thought we would share....  

This book was published by The Food Trust of Philadelphia.  Text from their website:  "This handbook is a resource for advocates at public health and community and economic development organizations working to increase the availability of nutritious foods and revitalize their neighborhoods. It provides a roadmap for advocacy and implementation of a healthy food financing initiative to encourage food retail in underserved regions..."

Download the book here>>>>>>

If you come across a food website that you would like to share with us, send us the details at

FPC News and Events

Since our last newsletter, we hosted the Fall Forum on Growing Good Food Jobs, a panel discussion on strategies for creating good food jobs in New York City that brought together food workers, advocates, and academics and labor experts.  

We were also honored to receive a delegation of executives and government representatives from the Netherlands interested in learning about New York City's response to childhood obesity. Center staff presented their work on these issues and exchanged experiences with the visitors, facilitating an open learning experience for the Center as well as the delegation.

With autumn in full swing, we participated in the East Harlem Harvest Festival, held at historic La Marqueta.


On November 1 we co-hosted a screening and panel discussion of The Garden, part of the First Fridays Film and Dialogue Series on Health and Social Justice at the CUNY School of Public Health, and on November 12 we co-hosted The Right to Food, Global and Local, a panel discussion hosted by the Roosevelt House Public Policy Center at Hunter College.


Most recently, as part of the Talking Transition series, a mayoral transition initiative facilitating open discussion among New Yorkers to inform the mayor-elect's agenda for the next four years, the NYC Food Policy Center participated in two events.   

Also on November 15, we were pleased to host the NYC FRESH Food Retail Summit at the CUNY School of Public Health, where Center Co-Director Poppendieck gave opening remarks.    


Current Food Policy News 


The Insanity of Our Food Policy  American food policy has long been rife with head-scratching illogic. We spend billions every year on farm subsidies, many of which help wealthy commercial operations to plant more crops than we need. The glut depresses world crop prices, harming farmers in developing countries. Meanwhile, millions of Americans live tenuously close to hunger, which is barely kept at bay by a food stamp program that gives most beneficiaries just a little more than $4 a day.
Read more here>>>

Price of Riding the Moscow Subway? 30 Squats  

In an effort to promote both the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Sochi and physical fitness, Moscow city officials and the Russian Olympic Committee are allowing subway riders to pay 30 squats instead of 30 rubles (about 92 cents) for a trip on the train. Riders perform the squats in front of a special machine which can tell if the person is in the correct position. The machine is located right next to the electronic vending machines at Vystavochnaya station in western Moscow. Read more here>>>     


New Report from the Public Agrees on Obesity's Impact, Not Government's Role

Most Americans (69%) see obesity as a very serious public health problem, substantially more than the percentages viewing alcohol abuse, cigarette smoking and AIDS in the same terms. In addition, a broad majority believes that obesity is not just a problem that affects individuals: 63% say obesity has consequences for society beyond the personal impact on individuals. Just 31% say it impacts the individuals who are obese but not society more broadly.  

Read more here>>> 


Food labels have become battlegrounds. A few weeks ago, voters in Washington state narrowly defeated a measure that would have required food manufacturers to reveal whether their products contain genetically modified ingredients. In a recent story on NPR's All Things Considered, Dan Charles asked four deep thinkers about food what they'd most like to see labeled. Read more here>>>

Lately, Sheryl's kitchen has become much more colorful -- blue potatoes, purple string beans. Red and green were the only kinds of apples she knew to buy until recently. Thanks to her 10-year-old daughter, Alaijah, Honeycrisps are the new favorite on their shelf.

Alaijah has struggled with her weight for a number of years. When the pair visited her pediatrician, Dr. Sundari Periasamy, at Harlem Hospital Center in early September, they learned about a new program being tested in New York City hospitals for the first time.


San Francisco joins sugary drinks fray with tax proposal

San Francisco may become the latest U.S. city to try to curb the consumption of sugary drinks with a proposed ballot measure to impose a tax on beverages seen as a culprit in rising rates of childhood obesity and diabetes.Supervisor Scott Wiener on Tuesday formally proposed asking voters in November 2014 to impose a 2-cents-per-ounce tax on soda and other drinks with added sugar sold in the famously liberal northern California city.

About The New York City  

Food Policy Center at Hunter College


The New York City Food Policy Center develops intersectoral, innovative and effective solutions to preventing diet-related diseases and promoting food security in New York and other cities.

The Center works with policy makers, community organizations, advocates and the public to create healthier, more sustainable food environments and to use food to promote community and economic development. Through interdisciplinary research, policy analysis, evaluation and education, we leverage the expertise and passion of the students, faculty and staff of Hunter College and CUNY.

The Center aims to make New York a model for smart, fair food policy.  


Center staff include Hunter faculty, staff and students:

  • Nicholas Freudenberg, Co-Director and Distinguished Professor of Public Health
  • Jan Poppendieck, Co-Director and Professor Emerita, Sociology
  • Charles Platkin, Editor, Food Policy Watch, Distinguished Lecturer Public Health and Nutrition 
  • May May Leung, Assistant Professor Nutrition
  • Michele Silver, Research Associate and DpH candidate 
  • Ashley Rafalow, Center Operations and Communications Coordinator and MPH candidate 
In This Issue
Food Policy: What Do We Know?
Michel Nischan
Know Where it Grows
FPC News
Food Policy News
Upcoming Events

Fall 2013 Food Policy for Breakfast 
Seminar Series

November 19


The History and Politics of the SNAP Program


What Can  

We Learn in 2013?



Panelists will include:

 Janet Poppendieck, PhD, Co-Director,

NYC Food Policy Center at Hunter College  


Triada Stampas, Senior Director of Government Relations, Food Bank for NewYork City


   Maggie Dickinson, PhD Candidate,
CUNY Graduate Center, Department of Anthropology


Moderated by Janet Poppendieck, PhD, Co-Director,  

NYC Food Policy Center at Hunter College 

Event Flyer


Major changes and cuts to the SNAP program have led to a near---crisis for our most
vulnerable populations. Janet Poppendieck, Policy Director at the NYC Food Policy Center
at Hunter College, leads a discussion focusing on the previous cycles of changes to the SNAP program and what we can learn moving forward.


Date: November 19, 2013 

Time: 8:30 AM - 10:00 AM

Location: The Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College
47---49 East 65th Street between Madison and Park


RSVP Here>>> 


December 17


Fall 2013 Food Policy for Breakfast 
Seminar Series


Food Policy Advocacy Beyond Bloomberg: 

How Can Food Advocates Influence the Next Mayor?




Date: December 17, 2013 

Time: 8:30 AM - 10:00 AM

Location: The Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College
47---49 East 65th Street between Madison and Park


Food Policy Seminars are free but seating is limited; Please RSVP in advance.
Events are closed when seats are filled.
December 5 



NYC Soda Regulation



Date: December 5, 2013 

Time: 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM (Reception to follow)  

Location: CUNY School of Public Health

2180 Third Ave @ 119th St

New York, NY 10035 

This live debate will focus on New York City's soda regulation, which, while it remains in question, is a high-profile example of a growing and controversial trend of public intervention in private dietary choices.  

Distinguished guests will include*:



Joel Berg,
Executive Director,
New York City Coalition Against Hunger 

Parke Wilde,
Associate Professor, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University

Lisa Young,
Adjunct Professor, Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University

Nicholas Freudenberg,
Faculty Director,
NYC Food Policy Center at Hunter College

Dave Arnold,
President and Founder,
Museum of Food and Drink

*additional panelists TBA

RSVP Here>>>