New York City Food Policy Watch
June 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 >>>

 Like us on FacebookFollow us on Twitter  

An ongoing series of interviews with food policy advocates

Reverend DeVanie Jackson is a co-founder of the  Brooklyn Rescue Mission Urban Harvest Center, the Bed-Stuy Farm & the Malcolm X Blvd Farmers Market an organization that promotes food justice, youth leadership and hunger relief for Brooklyn residents. 

What motivated you to get involved with food policy and to become a food policy advocate? Was there a specific trigger or inciting incident?


RDJ: I work every day in my community as a food policy advocate on the front lines to improve the food landscape in Central Brooklyn; I am drawn to this work because of my own personal desire to live a healthy lifestyle. I am working to see my Central Brooklyn community transformed into a healthy place where its residents live, work and play and it is easier for people like me to find food that is healthy and affordable than it is to find unhealthy food choices.


NYC Food by The Numbers:  
Green Carts 

Last week, Columbia University's  School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) released a report entitled, "An Evaluation of the New York City Green Cart Initiative to Expand Access to Healthy Produce in Low-Income Neighborhoods. This report presents the results of their analysis of the NYC Green Cart Initiative, its effects on fresh fruit and vegetable access for low-income New Yorkers, the sustainability of Green Carts as independent businesses and as a case study for how philanthropy can play a role in the support and promotion of innovative public policy. 

We highlight below some key findings, by the numbers. Researchers recommend this program be replicated in municipalities nationwide, though they also made recommendations for improving Green Carts.
  • The largest number of Green Carts were located in the Bronx (58), followed by Manhattan (44), Queens (22) and Brooklyn (19). There were no Green Carts in Staten Island.
  • There were reported 166 Green Carts operating across four boroughs during peak vending season (July-October 2013). Given that over 1,000 were issued and 507  are currently active, this finding suggests room for improvement at various stages of the program process to ensure full utilization.
  • 71% of customers surveyed reported increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables since shopping at a Green Cart.

  • 63% of customers are "regulars" (at least once a week).
  • 68% of customers earn less than approximately 200 percent of the federal poverty level. However,
  • Only 18% of customers acknowledge receiving public assistance.


Food Policy in Action  
Food As Medicine

Photo: Onno Bruins

Is food medicine? Should health care providers prescribe healthy food to prevent diet-related diseases and hunger? Although health professionals have long understood the critical importance of good nutrition to individual and population health, millions of Americans still suffer from diabetes and other diet-related diseases. Millions also lack secure access to the food needed to maintain well-being.   In response, many public health practitioners, physicians, community health workers, policy makers and advocates are asking whether they can play a role in preventing illness by getting healthy food to the people they serve.   


Read more about food as medicine >>> 
New Report from Eat Drink Politics 
How Industry and Government Promote Dairy Junk Foods"

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

The United States is in the midst of a public health epidemic due to poor diet. While much of the focus has been on obvious culprits such as sugary soft drinks and fast food, dairy foods often get a pass. The dairy industry, propped up by government, has convinced us of the health benefits of milk and other dairy products. But the context of how people consume dairy matters.

This new report, Whitewashed: How Industry and Government Promote Dairy Junk Foods, shines a light on the shifting patterns of consumption away from plain milk toward dairy products laden with sugar, fat, and salt. For example:

  • About half of all milk is consumed either as flavored milk, with cereal, or in a drink;
  • Nearly half of the milk supply goes to make about 9 billion pounds of cheese and 1.5 billion gallons of frozen desserts-two-thirds of which is ice cream;
  • 11 percent of all sugar goes into the production of dairy products.
Download the report here>>> 



If you come across a food report or website that you would like to share with us, send us the details at [email protected]
Pie in the Sky
Half-Baked Ideas
that Just Might Work  



What if households enrolling in SNAP could choose between the current program, which I'll call  "Old SNAP"  and a revised program called "New SNAP" (or maybe SNAP Plus)?  


Current Food Policy News 



Parasites, Killing Their Host The Food Industry's Solution to Obesity

"The problem is that real food isn't real profitable. "It's hard to market fruit and vegetables without adding value," says Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University. "If you turn a potato into a potato chip you not only make more money - you create a product with a long shelf life." Potatoes into chips and frozen fries; wheat into soft, "enriched" bread; soybeans into oil and meat; corn into meat and a staggering variety of junk.How do we break this cycle?"

Read more here>>>  


"An industrial park in Appalachia may seem an odd place to grow a few million natives of the Nile. But industrial-scale fish farms are popping up everywhere these days. Aquaculture has expanded about 14-fold since 1980. In 2012 its global output, from silvery salmon to homely sea cucumbers only a Chinese cook could love, reached more than 70 million tons-exceeding beef production clearly for the first time and amounting to nearly half of all fish and shellfish consumed on Earth. Population growth, income growth, and seafood's heart-healthy reputation are expected to drive up demand by 35 percent or more in just the next 20 years. With the global catch of wild fish stagnant, experts say virtually all of that new seafood will have to be farmed"

Read more here>>>     


"The report [from Gallup-Healthways] also showed that long-term unemployment carries much higher obesity risks than short-term unemployment. Specifically, the obesity rate for people who have been unemployed for a year or more is 32.7 percent. Compare that with 22.8 percent for people who have been unemployed for two weeks or less, or 25.1 percent for people who have been unemployed for three to five weeks.

The report, which is based on data from more than 350,000 adults in 2013, also included 5,000 interviews with the long-term unemployed (which is being unemployed for 27 weeks or more) and the short-term unemployed (which is being unemployed for fewer than 27 weeks).

The long-term unemployed were also more likely to report more days where poor health was a hindrance to going about their usual activities. They reported 4.7 days in the last 30 days where their poor health kept them from their usual activities, compared with 1.4 days reported by the full-time employed. "

Read more here>>>  


"A bill that would have made California the first state in the nation to require warning labels on sodas and other sugary drinks was effectively killed on Tuesday. SB1000 by Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, failed on a 7-8 vote as his fellow Democratic lawmakers doubted whether a label would change consumer behavior. It needed 10 votes to pass. Certain sodas, energy drinks and fruit drinks would have included a label reading, "STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay."

"The School Nutrition Association - what you might call the national organization for lunch ladies (and gents) - says it was trying to improve the healthfulness of school lunches.

But it says the U.S. Agriculture Department didn't help when things got tough, so it went to Congress. House Republicans provided help, but they also put the group in the middle of a partisan battle over what to feed America's school students.

Alabama Republican Rep. Robert Aderholt, who chairs the subcommittee that decides how much money the school nutrition program gets each year, is not a fan of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, as it stands. "This is where the heavy hand of the government is coming down and trying to dictate to local school systems," he said at a meeting of the House Appropriations Committee in May."

"To reduce obesity and type 2 diabetes rates, lawmakers have proposed modifying Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to encourage healthier food choices. We examined the impact of two proposed policies: a ban on using SNAP dollars to buy sugar-sweetened beverages; and a subsidy in which for every SNAP dollar spent on fruit and vegetables, thirty cents is credited back to participants' SNAP benefit cards. We used nationally representative data and models describing obesity, type 2 diabetes, and determinants of food consumption among a sample of over 19,000 SNAP participants. We found that a ban on SNAP purchases of sugar-sweetened beverages would be expected to significantly reduce obesity prevalence and type 2 diabetes incidence, particularly among adults ages 18-65 and some racial and ethnic minorities. The subsidy policy would not be expected to have a significant effect on obesity and type 2 diabetes, given available data. Such a subsidy could, however, more than double the proportion of SNAP participants who meet federal vegetable and fruit consumption guidelines.


Hundreds of fast-wood workers and other low-wage employees from around New York descended on the state Capitol on Tuesday to pressure lawmakers to raise the state's minimum wage from $8 to $10.10 an hour and let local cities raise it even higher.

The effort is unlikely to succeed, however, before lawmakers adjourn this week. While the minimum wage bill has broad support in the state Assembly, it would likely fall a few votes short in the Senate."I put in my hours, my labor, for a company that makes billions, and I make $8 an hour," said Omar Freckleton, a McDonald's worker from Brooklyn. "I'm here to make my voice heard. If they (lawmakers) don't do this, it's on them, and we'll remember in November."

Read more here>>>     


Food Policy Center News 

With summer upon us, the Center continues our research and evaluation projects, develop our website and build and strengthen community relationships in East Harlem and city-wide.


Our final breakfast seminar of spring 2014, "Getting to Yes on Salt: How to Translate Conflicting Evidence into Public Health Policy" was held Tuesday, May 29, 2014 at the Roosevelt House. Nicholas Freudenberg moderated a lively panel discussion on the public health debate on salt. Panelists included Dr. Thomas Farley, Former Commissioner of Health, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Joan M Tisch Fellow for Public Health at the Roosevelt House Institute for Public Policy at Hunter College and

Dr. Sandro Galea, Gelman Professor and Chair Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University.  


In staff news, Nick Freudenberg gave several interviews and talks this past month. Listen to his recent appearance on "What Doesn't Kill You" on Heritage Radio Network. This week, he gave a keynote address at the UVM Food Systems Summit, and prior to that gave a talk at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine on June 10.


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 College 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 
  • Dory Kornfeld, Research Assistant
  • Natasha Eziquiel-Shriro, Research Assistant  
In This Issue
Reverend Devanie Ann Jackson
NYC Food by the Numbers
Food Policy in Action
New Report: Whitewashed
Pie in the Sky
Food Policy News
Center News Brief
Upcoming Event

Feeding New York: Challenges and Opportunities for Workers in New York City's Food Manufacturing Industry

Tuesday, June 24
9:30 to 11:30 AM
The Murphy Institute 25 West 43rd Street, 18th Floor New York, NY 10036

Brandworkers has announced the completion of  

Feeding New York: Challenges and Opportunities for Workers in New York City's Food Manufacturing Industry.


This is the first-ever report on NYC's rapidly growing local food production industry from the perspective of the workers employed in the sector. Join us for the release of the report at a lively policy briefing featuring workers' rights and food justice leaders.  


RSVP here >>>




* Nisha Agarwal, Commissioner, NYC Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs


* Daniel Gross, Executive Director, Brandworkers


* Alexa Kasdan, Director of Research and Policy, Community Development Project at the Urban Justice Center


* Richard Merino, Member, Brandworkers


* Ruth Milkman, Professor of Sociology, CUNY Graduate Center


* Janet Poppendieck, Policy Director, NYC Food Policy Center at Hunter College


* Diana Robinson, Campaign and Education Coordinator, Food Chain Workers Alliance


* Barbara Turk, Director of Food Policy, Office of the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services


This event is co-hosted by:  



NYC Food Policy Center at Hunter College 


The Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies  


Community Food Funders  


Community Development Project at the Urban Justice Center 


Stay in touch for more event information and our Fall 2014
Food Policy for Breakfast Seminar schedule