New York City Food Policy Watch
December 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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The Advocate: 

Interview with Kim Kessler 
Former Food Policy Coordinator, 
Office of the Mayor 


Photo by Change by Us NYC
Photo by: "Change Us NYC"
An ongoing series of interviews with food policy advocates

 FPW: What do you think are the greatest food policy challenges facing are in NYC in the years to come?   

Kim Kessler: 

Unfortunately, many of our challenges are very significant - diet-related disease, hunger, issues of affordability and access to healthy foods.  These are major issues in NYC and across the country.  The good news is that we have demonstrated that municipal approaches can make an impact, with programs addressing healthy food access, food insecurity, and sustainability. For example our Green Carts initiative has not only created almost 500 new produce vendors in underserved neighborhoods, directly impacting access, but we have also learned that in neighborhoods where Green Carts were introduced, other stores also started carrying more produce.  That's a systemic change.  So, the broad opportunity is to continue to be a nationwide leader in tackling these hard problems at the local level.  



Food Policy Brief:

Do More Supermarkets Make Healthier Food More Available?

Do more supermarkets in a neighborhood make healthier food more available? Are people living in neighborhoods with fewer supermarkets at higher risk of obesity, diabetes and other diet-related diseases?  A recent international review and a study in New York City , cited at the end of this report,  provide evidence on these questions.  A few cautions are in order, however.  


First, the evidence that supermarkets provide a health advantage seems stronger for the United States than for countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada.  Some observers speculate that the high degree of residential segregation in the United States and the heavy reliance on automobiles (except in cities like New York) make local supermarkets more important here than elsewhere.  


Second, defining neighborhood is not simple. How close does a supermarket have to be to increase access?


NYC Food by the Numbers: 

 Hunger, Food Insecurity and SNAP Enrollment

One of the most striking failures of the city's food system is the persistence of hunger and food insecurity in the wealthiest city in the world.  Here are some numbers:


- More than 1.3 million New York City residents, including one in five children and one in ten seniors(over the age of 60),  live in households that lack sufficient food.
- In the last five years, the number of city residents experiencing food insecurity has increased by more than 200,000.  In New York State, the number of people experiencing food insecurity has increased by 40% since 2000-2002. 


Pre-K Nutrition Education Curriculum Developed by
Children's Museum of Manhattan (CMOM) and the NIH.
(Available for Download at No Cost)

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

"EatPlayGrow is a new health educational curriculum created through an innovative public-private partnership between the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Children's Museum of Manhattan (CMOM).


The EatPlayGrow curriculum combines the latest science and research from the NIH with CMOM's creative educational approach to teach children ages 2-5 and their parents how to make healthy nutrition and physical activity choices. The new program was adapted from the We Can! Energize Our Families Parent Program, which was originally geared to parents of children ages 8-13."   You can download the curriculum at no cost.   


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

Current Food Policy News 


Somewhere between a food pantry and a traditional grocery store lies an opportunity to help feed those in need. Enter "social supermarkets," a European model that offers discounted food exclusively to those in poverty. The stores have grown in popularity across the continent, and this week, the U.K. opened its first. Dubbed Community Shop, the store is located in an impoverished former mining town in South Yorkshire. Read more here>>>     


PETE IS ONE of countless small food producers in America who have found the cost of doing business-mainly the cost of infrastructure-to be prohibitive, one of the reasons why the local food movement has hit a wall. Whether it is the stringent requirements for slaughtering and processing meats, the cost of building a production or storage facility, the learning curve regarding food-safety regulations, or the dearth of distribution options, many small-scale food artisans find it discouragingly difficult to grow beyond the booth at the farmers' market.  Read more here>>>

My partner eyed me sternly when I announced that my next book was going to be an investigative look at pork production. "Does this mean that I'll have to give up eating bacon?" she asked.

Deadly outbreaks of E. coli and Salmonella in spinach and cantaloupes, antibiotic-resistant "superbugs" connected to pork and chicken production, potent drugs that are banned in the United States in imported shrimp and catfish: Nothing has the potential to destroy your appetite quite as thoroughly as writing about industrial food production or living with someone who does. Somehow, I have remained omnivorous, more or less. But there are only five things that I absolutely refuse to eat.


Grocery Goliaths: How Food Monopolies Impact Consumers

Groceries are big business, with Americans spending $603 billion on grocery products in 2012. Big-box food retailers like Walmart and national grocery store chains now dominate the grocery industry. These mega-retailers are the biggest buyers of grocery products, and they exert tremendous power over food companies and ultimately farmers. This has led to a handful of food companies producing the majority of the products in the supermarket.

Food Policy Center News 

The fall 2013 semester is coming to a close and since our last newsletter, we've been engaging with our community partners- a busy month full of activities, events, research, writing and public hearings. 


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
Kim Kessler
Food Policy Brief
NYC Food by the Numbers:
Pre-K Nutrition Education
Food Policy News
Upcoming Event

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



Kim Kessler   

Melony Samuels  

Nancy Romer

Nicholas Freudenberg 

Events are closed when seats are filled.