New York City Food Policy Watch
February 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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New Report Examines Institutional Meals Served by New York City

The New York City Food Policy Center at Hunter College is pleased to announce the release of our new report: The Public Plate in New York City: A Guide to Institutional Meals.  


This report  examines the health and economic impact of the more than 260 million meals New York City serves each year in public schools, public child care and senior citizen programs, homeless shelters, jails, public hospitals, and other settings.


Read the press release here >>>> 


Download the report here >>>>  

The Advocate: 

Interview with Rick Luftglass, Executive Director, Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund
An ongoing series of interviews with food policy advocates

FPW: I know that you graduated from Stanford University's Graduate School of Business; I'm wondering what motivated you to get involved with foundation work, and now food policy? Was there a specific trigger or inciting incident?


At Stanford, I was particularly interested in the intersections among the public, private and nonprofit sectors.  I had started my career in nonprofits, and when I got to business school I took both business and public sector courses.  I was fascinated by what happens at the nexus points.  Examples of this nexus are the role of business in society, the use of business skills in the nonprofit sector, and public/private partnerships that bring together public, private, nonprofit and philanthropic entities.  Where do interests align?  Where might there be conflict or tension? 


NYC Food by the Numbers: 

Institutional Meals 

Ten NYC agencies provide meals to New Yorkers. They are listed below in order of the number of meals and snacks served annually, from the largest to the smallest, based on the 2013 Food Metrics Report.
Lethal but Legal: Corporations, Consumption and Protecting Public Health


This week, Oxford University Press releases a new book by Nick Freudenberg, Co-Director and Distinguished Professor of Public Health. Here's an excerpt from the Preface:


Never before in human history has the gap between the scientific and economic potential for better health for all and the reality of avoidable premature death been greater. In the past, babies died in infancy, women in childbirth, workers from injuries or occupational diseases, and people of all ages from epidemics of infectious disease exacerbated by inadequate nutrition, contaminated water, and poor sanitation. For the most part, the world lacked the resources and the understanding to eliminate these problems. As societies developed; as science, technology, and medicine advanced; and as people organized to improve their standards of living, more and more of the world's population attained the living conditions that support better health and longer lives.
After Tobacco, Should CVS
Take Sugary Drinks and
Snacks Off Its Shelves?

The CVS decision raises the question whether all pharmacies should stop selling all products that contribute to premature death and preventable illnesses.  The research evidence that increased availability of tobacco, alcohol and unhealthy food contributes to increased consumption is strong.  Unhealthy food is now ubiquitous, making it easier for consumers to indulge wherever they are and also normalizing eating everywhere. Seeing "hyperpalatable" high fat, sugar and salt products on the shelves of pharmacies, convenience stores, book stores, movie theaters, newsstands, sports stadiums,  vending machines and elsewhere  may trigger hard-wired urges to chase that sugar high.

What's Up with the SNAP Cuts

Most of the "savings" in the nutrition titles of the new Farm Bill come from a change in the way in which benefits are calculated. SNAP rules and regulations are complex and technical, but the underlying idea is fairly simple. USDA has established the cost of a minimally adequate diet, called the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP) for each household size. Participating households are expected to spend 30% of their disposable income on food, and SNAP makes up the difference between that sum and the cost of the TFP. The lower the household's disposable income, the larger the benefit.  By "disposable income," also called "net income," the program means income after certain allowable deductions-the cost of child care needed to permit parents to work, for example, or medical costs.  

Report Suggests
Healthy Eating Habits Increase Around Earned Income Tax Credit

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

ThinkProgress reports:  a new white paper written by the Chicago Federal Reserve suggests that healthy eating habits increase around the time when Earned Income Tax Credit funds are reimbursed. EITC benefits are unique in that they are distributed in a lump sum, as opposed to SNAP benefits which are paid monthly.  The article continues, "Working poor families spent significantly more money on healthy products including fish, poultry, meat, and dairy in the months that they received their benefits. There was almost no corresponding rise in the amount of fat-laden fast and junk foods that they purchased." Could expanding EITC benefits, as President Obama suggested in his fifth State of the Union address, increase access to healthier food?

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

Current Food Policy News 


So, we do a pretty good job eating enough potatoes. But the healthier, more brightly colored vegetables like kale and carrots, no so much. We spend four times the amount on refined grains the USDA thinks is proper, and about a fifth of the target expenditure in whole grains. We spend nearly 14 percent of our at-home food budgets on sugar and candies, and another 8 percent on premade frozen and fridge entrees. Whole fruit barley accounts for less than 5 percent of our grocery bill. And so on-a pretty dismal picture.

Read more here>>>     


"It's long been evident that countries tend to gain weight as they gain wealth: The world's industrialized nations have much higher obesity rates than the developing world, and the problem is getting worse. It's also not surprising -- or new -- that obesity would also track with the popularity of fast-food restaurants, given the high calorie loads they tend to carry. But a new study published in the February bulletin of the World Health Organization adds another causal factor: deregulation."

Read more here>>> 


"New York City and five other large school districts have banded together to bring environmentally friendly changes to their schools, starting with trays students can throw in the trash without worry. The round plates made of a sugar cane byproduct are due to appear in all New York City schools this fall." They are the first result of the Urban School Food Alliance."  which includes school systems in Miami, Los Angeles, Dallas, Orlando, Chicago and New York City and formed in 2012 to boost the schools' purchasing power in the private sector.


Chick-fil-A to phase out antibiotics in chicken   

"The fast food chain says it will serve only chicken raised without antibiotics within the next five years. The company's announcement comes at a time of increased scrutiny over antibiotics in the U.S. meat supply. Antibiotics have traditionally been used in animal feed to fatten up poultry, cattle and livestock. But in recent years, health officials have warned ingestion of these foods over time might lead to growth of antibiotic-resistant germs."

Read more here>>>


Is It Still Lunch at 10:45 a.m.? City Schools Serve Meals at Odd Hours

"School lunch times vary widely across New York City, both when they start and how long students have to eat, but a review of Department of Education data shows that as many as 40 percent of the city's public schools start lunch periods early -- that is, by 10:45 in the morning.

The data review, conducted by WNYC and the Daily News, revealed that more than 650 public schools throughout the city are serving lunch before 11 a.m."

Food Policy Center News 

Spring may seem endlessly far away, but here at Hunter College the spring semester is in full swing. The NYC Food Policy Center has been actively planning  events, putting the finishing touches on our upcoming report, and working to engage with our partners on various initiatives.


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 the CUNY School of Public Health and other CUNY campuses. 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
  • Diana Johnson, Director of Community Projects 
  • Michele Silver, Research Associate and DPH candidate 
  • Ashley Rafalow, Operations and Communications Coordinator and MPH candidate 
In This Issue
New Report: The Public Plate
Rick Luftglass
NYC Food by the Numbers
Lethal but Legal
CVS, Now Sugar?
What's Up with the SNAP Cuts?
Earned Income Tax Credit
Food Policy News
Spring 2014 Food Policy for Breakfast 
Seminar Series 

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 >>>



Paulette Johnson, Assistant Commissioner, NYC Department of Correction


Lynn Loflin, Lenox Hill


Emma Tsui, Assistant Professor, MPH Program, Department of Health Sciences, Lehman College, CUNY School of Public Health


Jessica Wurwarg, Former Director of the New York City Food Policy Center, current Director of Operations and Policy, Department of Strategy and Operations, NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development


Brian Goldblatt, Sales Manager, Greenmarket Co. (A program of GrowNYC)



Save the Date!
Upcoming Food Policy for Breakfast Seminars

April 2
April 29
May 20