New York City Food Policy Watch
January 2014
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 Kate MacKenzie, Director of Policy and Government Relations at City Harvest


An ongoing series of interviews with food policy advocates

 FPW: How would you describe the current food movement in the New York City? Do you think it is becoming more effective?  Why?


KM: Diverse.  The food movement in NYC isn't about one particular thing.  There are advocates speaking out for food justice, healthy food, nutrition education, hunger and food insecurity, school food, urban agriculture, food and environment, food in disasters, food retail, local food, the list goes on and on.  And that is a good thing!  The individuals and organizations who would consider themselves to be part of the food movement is also hugely diverse, and that is a must.  Part of what is making the NYC food movement effective is that all of these seemingly individual movements are increasingly working together - the NYC Mayoral Forum on Food is a good example of this.  Hopefully, this cohesiveness will only continue and get stronger. 


Reflections on Food Policy Breakfast: Beyond Bloomberg  

What's next for the food policy
movement in New York City, now that one Mayor has finished his term and another taken office? The December Food Policy for Breakfast Forum on Beyond Bloomberg: What is the Role for Food Policy Advocacy in the Next Mayoral Administration? considered how food activists can chart its priorities for the next few years..  

News from the International Association for the Study of Obesity (IASO): 

Health Experts Urge Government Action on Obesity
The International Association for the Study of Obesity(IASO)released a new policy brief on the prevention of obesity. Based on a meeting held in New York City last fall, attended by Food Policy Center director Nick Freudenberg.

The brief "calls on governments to take a systems wide approach to tackling obesity and to work with civil society, especially to monitor the drivers of disease and to hold all stakeholders accountable for progress. It also calls for further steps to be taken to strengthen nutrition security by protecting consumers, primarily children, from inducements to consume unhealthy products."

NYC Food by the Numbers: 

Diabetes in New York City

Like so many other parts of the world, New York City is in the midst of an epidemic of diet-related diseases. Among the conditions that have been related to diet are heart diseases, hypertension, stroke and some forms of cancer. But no health condition is more dependent on diet than Type II diabetes. CDC director Tom Frieden, the former Commissioner of Health in New York City once observed that diabetes follows obesity as night follows day. Below are some of the numbers about diabetes in New York City.
  • In 2011, nearly 650,000 adults in New York City reported they had diabetes, an increase of 200,000 since 2002. Another 230,000 New Yorkers are estimated to be unaware that they have the disease.
  • One person dies of diabetes-related causes every 90 minutes in New York City. The age-adjusted diabetes-related death rate reached an all-time high in 2011 (67 deaths per 100,000 population), while the overall death rate in New York City has been decreasing. 
  • Since 1990, the proportion of all New York City deaths that were related to diabetes nearly doubled, from 6.0% in 1990 to 10.8% in 2011. 
Read more here >>>>    
Report on Nutritional Quality of Fast Food Menu Items and Marketing to Children
Fast Food FACTS 2013 

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

"'Fast Food FACTS 2013,' is a follow-up to a report released in 2010. Using the same methods, researchers examined 18 of the top fast-food restaurants in the United States and documented changes in the nutritional quality of menu items along with changes in marketing to children and teens on TV, the Internet, social media, and mobile devices. "


Key findings include:

  • Children ages 6 to 11 saw 10% fewer TV ads for fast food, but children and teens continued to see three to five fast food ads on TV every day;
  • Healthier kids' meals were advertised by a few restaurants, but they represent only one-quarter of fast-food ads viewed by children;
  • Less than 1% of kids' meals combinations at restaurants meet nutrition standards recommended by experts, and just 3% meet the industry's own Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative and Kids LiveWell nutrition standards;
  • Spanish-language advertising to Hispanic preschoolers, a population at high risk for obesity, increased by 16%;
  • Fast food marketing via social media and mobile devices - media that are popular with teens - grew exponentially.
If you come across a food website that you would like to share with us, send us the details at

Current Food Policy News 


First, let's get this straight. Taking the G.M.O.'s out of Cheerios is only a little bit harder than taking them out of oatmeal: there are no G.M.O. oats, and Cheerios are, essentially, oats. (Well, hyper-processed oats.) They also contain small amounts of cornstarch and sugar, so its parent company, General Mills, has done little more than source non-G.M.O. cornstarch and cane rather than beet sugar to use in production. (There are G.M.O. beets, and almost all corn and soybeans grown in the United States use G.M.O. seeds, whose products find their way into most processed foods.) This is what they've done for years in most of Europe, where products with G.M.O.'s are almost universally labeled as such. 

Read more here>>>     


"Few things have as much of an impact on our lives as food," said Tom Colicchio, owner of Craft Restaurants and FPA board member. "That's especially true for the families who don't have enough to eat. Until now, voters had no simple way to find out whether their lawmakers voted to cut or protect food assistance for the neediest Americans. Thanks to the FPA scorecard, now they know." Senators were graded on six votes and House members on 13 votes related to hunger, food aid, food labels and farm subsidies.

Read more here>>> 


"Basically, if you arrive from Mars and design a food system, you probably couldn't design a worse one than what we have today on Earth," Oxfam's tells The Salt. "There is enough food overall in the world to feed everyone. But 900 million people still don't have enough to eat, and 1 billion people are obese. It's a crazy situation."


Forget Trans Fats and Soda-Will NYC's New Mayor Tackle Hunger?

New York City has been in the news a lot over the last decade for its food and nutrition policy, thanks in large part to the man who has occupied the Mayor's Office since 2002, Michael Bloomberg. The city's urban agriculture has expanded under Bloomberg, its hospitals serve less junk food, fewer food scraps go into landfills, and New York became the first city to completely ban trans fats-a policy that set the stage for similar bans in other cities and paved the way for a federal ban.

Food Policy Center News 

With the fall semester behind us and the holidays just wrapping up, Center staff have been using this past month as a time to meet, celebrate, reflect and plan for the spring semester and beyond.


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, Operations and Communications Coordinator and MPH candidate 
In This Issue
Kate MacKenzie
Beyond Bloomberg
NYC Food by the Numbers:
Fast Food Report
Food Policy News
Save the Date! 

Spring 2014 Food Policy for Breakfast 
Seminar Series

February 18
March 18
April 29 
May 20

First up:  

The Public Plate in NYC: Perspectives on Municipal Food Service



Photo courtesy of Wellness in the Schools


Date: February 18, 2014  

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 >>>


Panelists TBA