New York City Food Policy Watch
September 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 Steve Rosenberg, Senior Vice President,
Scenic Hudson, Inc.

An ongoing series of interviews with food policy advocates

What motivated Scenic Hudson to get involved with food policy and to become a food policy advocate?


It's a natural outgrowth of Scenic Hudson's work to conserve family farms in the Hudson Valley.  As an environmental advocacy and land conservation organization working at the regional scale, it became increasingly clear to us that this work is fundamental to creating secure food access for NYC and the region.  NYC alone has almost one billion dollars a year of unmet demand for fresh, local food.  There are more farms in the Hudson Valley supplying local food to NYC than from any other area.  We have a responsibility to future generations to conserve this scarce resource that promotes so many public benefits.  The pressures on the region's farmland are tremendous, and once it's gone, it can't be replaced.


Climate Change, Food and Health: Taking Action to
Address Root Causes 

At Food Policy For Breakfast this month, the topic was Climate Change and Food. The 2014 Climate Summit at the United Nations on September 23 provides an opportunity for scientists, government leaders, activists and concerned citizens from around the world to examine the common causes and identify the actions we can take to modify the underlying causes of three intersecting crises: human-induced climate change, accelerating epidemics of chronic diseases, and growing food insecurity.

At the seminar, three speakers explained the dimensions of the problem. Mia MacDonald, Executive Director of Brighter Green, discussed the impact of climate change on global food insecurity. Nevin Cohen, an Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at The New School described how climate change influences the New York City food shed and the associated infrastructure(see below). Finally, Mark A. Izeman, Senior Attorney and Director of New York Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council explored some of the responses to climate change here in New York City.

NYC Food by the Numbers: 
Climate Change and
Our Food Supply 

Thanks to Nevin Cohen for sharing these numbers, from PlaNYC: A Stronger, More Resilient New York

  • Each year, more than 5.7 million tons of domestic and international food shipments flow into New York City
  • 95% of the city's food travels to New York City by truck
  • Nearly 30% of the truck traffic over the George Washington Bridge on any given day is believed to be carrying food.
  • About 60% of the city's produce and about half of the city's meat and fish passes through Hunts Point for sale and distribution to retailers and consumers.
  • Every day, almost 13,000 trucks travel into and out of the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center.
 Read more about NYC's Food and Climate Change>>> 
East Harlem News:
Food Access in East Harlem- Pathmark 125th Street Purchased by Extell Development  
With the recent purchase of the Pathmark at 125th Street and Lexington Avenue by a real estate developer known for luxury high-rises, we are beginning a dialog with the community around the possible closing of this important food access point in East Harlem.

In April 2014 Extell Development Company, a major real estate developer specializing in luxury residential, hospitality and mixed-used properties, purchased the land currently occupied by a Pathmark at Lexington Avenue and 125th Street. Extell is expected to tear down the store for a new middle and upper income residential building. The case of another Pathmark on the Lower East Side provides a possible glimpse into the future, where this same developer has already purchased and demolished a Pathmark on Cherry Street and is building a 60+ story luxury tower with approximately 1,000 units. On the Lower East Side, Extell seeks to attract an affordable supermarket to the 25,000 square foot storefront earmarked for a full-service grocery store, but at this point it is unclear whether Extell will be required to include food retail at the site of Pathmark in East Harlem.  


Faculty and students at the New York City Food Policy Center at Hunter College, the CUNY School of Public Health at 119th Street and the New School have begun a a Health Impact Assessment to better understand how Pathmark's closing will affect food choices in East Harlem, as well as to identify possible opportunities for the community to advocate for substantive improvements to what has historically been a troubled corner of the neighborhood.


As this project moves forward, we invite East Harlem stakeholders who want to develop strategies to ensure that healthy and affordable food access is not compromised to join us on this initiative. To join or get more information, please contact Diana Johnson, Director of Community Projects at   

Current Food Policy News 

Is Sunny Delight too sweet for school kids?

"The Center for Science in the Public Interest is going after the makers of Sunny Delight, arguing that the sugary drink is unhealthy and shouldn't participate in school-based marketing programs. CSPI sent a letter on Tuesday to the company's CEO asking that it refrain from aiming at young children through its "SunnyD Book Spree."  

Read more here>>>  

"More than 90 percent of U.S. children aged 6-18 years eat more sodium than recommended, putting them at risk for developing high blood pressure and heart disease later in life, according to a new CDC Vital Signs report... Using data from CDC's 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, CDC researchers determined that about 43 percent of sodium eaten by children comes from the 10 foods they eat most often: pizza, bread and rolls, cold cuts/cured meats, savory snacks, sandwiches, cheese, chicken patties/nuggets/tenders, pasta mixed dishes, Mexican mixed dishes, and soups.."

Read more here>>>  


"'Frank Hu, a study author and co-director of the Program in Obesity Epidemiology and Prevention at the Harvard School of Public Health, cautioned against taking the improvements as a sign that Americans eat well. "This is really almost like an American diet report card," Hu said. "This has the good news that there has been some improvement in overall diet quality, but the report card still doesn't look very good.' The report comes at a time when the food choices of low-income households are in the national spotlight. Legislators and advocates have suggested restricting what foods can be bought with the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as food stamps) in an effort to promote health. First Lady Michelle Obama has made healthy diets a central part of her campaign to end childhood obesity. Today two-thirds of Americans of all classes are overweight or obese, with higher rates among the poor."

"Home-state snacks are a mainstay in congressional office lobbies, alongside district maps, hometown magazines and displays of local tchotchkes. Walk into Sen. Rand Paul's office and you'll find Kellogg's Pop-Tarts and Nutri-Grain bars in a basket next to the Kentucky almanac. Down the hall, Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson serves peanuts and Coca-Cola. Head upstairs to New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's office for Chobani yogurt. But the treats not only give visiting constituents a taste of home, they also fuel black-market snack trading among House and Senate staffers."

"The new law says that people can't get the higher food benefits unless they receive more than $20 a year in heating assistance, which lawmakers hoped would be too expensive for states to pay. But the governors in 12 states and the mayor of the District of Columbia have said they will find a way. Most will use federal heating assistance dollars. At least one state, California, will use its own money."


"The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has launched a new ad campaign to encourage New Yorkers to make healthy choices for snacks on the go. Already spotted at bus stops, check cashing locations and on pole banners throughout the city, the new "Take Me With You" ad campaign features apples, bananas, and carrot sticks as easy, affordable ways to incorporate fruit and vegetables into your daily routine."

Read more here>>>      

Food Policy Journal Watch

Select food policy-focused peer reviewed journal articles from this month.     

Individual differences in striatum activity to food commercials predict weight gain in adolescents. (Obesity)

"The results suggest that there are individual differences in neural susceptibility to food advertising. These findings highlight a potential mechanism for the impact of food marketing on adolescent obesity."  

Read the article>>>  

"Classifying urban areas with few large supermarkets as 'food deserts' may overlook the availability of healthy foods and low prices that exist within small and medium-sized groceries common in inner cities. Improving produce quality and store appearance can potentially impact the food purchasing decisions of low-income residents in Hartford."

Read the article>>>     

"Reducing population salt intake has been identified as a priority intervention to reduce non-communicable diseases. Member States of the World Health Organization have agreed to a global target of a 30% reduction in salt intake by 2025. In countries where most salt consumed is from processed foods, programs to engage the food industry to reduce salt in products are being developed. This paper provides a comprehensive overview of national initiatives to encourage the food industry to reduce salt. A systematic review of the literature was supplemented by key informant questionnaires to inform categorization of the initiatives"

"The hope is that one day most of New York's discarded food will make its way to composting sites, where it will benefit the environment, rather than be trucked to distant landfills, an undertaking that costs the city more than $300 million annually. A highly visible side effect would be to reduce the city's rat population. With less food in curbside garbage cans, the thinking goes, fewer rats should come prowling around in search of a meal."


"Distance to store and prices were positively associated with obesity (p<0.05). When distance to store and food prices were jointly modeled, only prices remained significant (p<0.01), with higher prices predicting a lower likelihood of obesity. Although low- and high-price stores did not differ in availability, they significantly differed in their display and marketing of junk foods relative to healthy foods." 
Read the article>>>   

"In analyses of 6,493 food purchase transactions over 65 weeks, the odds of buying foods on sale versus at full price were higher for grain-based snacks, sweet snacks, and sugar-sweetened beverages (odds ratios: 6.6, 5.9, and 2.6, respectively; all P < .001) but not for savory snacks. The odds of buying foods on sale versus full price were not higher for any of any of the LCF [low-calorie foods](P ≥ .07). Without controlling for quantities purchased, we found that spending increased as percentage saved from the full price increased for all HCF [high-calorie foods]and for fruits and vegetables (P ≤ .002). Focus group participants emphasized the lure of sale items and took advantage of sales to stock up." 

Food Policy Center News 

  It's that time again! Back to school and we're already in full swing at the NYC Food Policy Center at Hunter College. We're excited about new partnerships and projects and look forward to a productive fall semester working together with our local and city-wide partners.


Have you visited out our website recently?  

We've recently revamped it, particularly our "projects" pages. Visit to learn more about our work in East Harlem and our "Campaign for Healthy Food." There you'll find project summaries from the East Harlem Research Action Workshops students, many of whom are currently translating their research into real-world projects. You'll also find a summary we conducted of East Harlem needs assessments from 2003-2013. Check our website for event updates, food policy briefs, community resources, and read more information about our other projects, including evaluation studies, international food security and urbanization, and our Good Food Jobs project. Stay tuned for translated pages (se habla espanol!) as well as more updates and additions as our website grows.


About the NYC 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, Director of Operations and Communications 
  • Natasha Eziquiel-Shriro, Research Assistant 
  • Kyle Murray, Research Assistant
In This Issue
Steve Rosenberg
Climate Change
NYC Food by the Numbers
Pathmark 125th Street
Food Policy News
Food Policy Journal Watch
Center News Brief
September 21: 
People's Climate March

Join the Food Justice Contingent!

Join us at the People's Climate March on Sept. 21 and let the delegates at the UN Climate Summit know that we want a sane climate treaty. The Food Justice contingent of the People's Climate March will demonstrate one of the many solutions to the climate crisis: a healthy, sustainable food system.  


The Food Justice contingent is assembling on Central Park West between 71st and 72nd Streets at 10:30 am, entering the park at either 77th or 81st Streets.  There will be a rally with speakers, music, dance and fun! Please bring (light weight) pots and pans to be part of a percussion action in the tradition of housewives and chefs all over the world. Bring lots of water, hats and sun block. 
If people want to serve as volunteer staff for the contingent arrive by 9:30 am to help set up.

Note: no metal or wooden poles allowed, only cardboard poles are permitted  


The Climate Convergence is sponsoring exciting activities on Sept 19 and 20:   


For more information:

Upcoming Food Policy for Breakfast Seminars:

Save the date!

October 21
Could Campus Food be the Next School Food?
A Look at What's Happening at CUNY and SUNY
CUNY Graduate Center
9am - 10:30am
365 5th Avenue @34th St.
New York, NY 10016

November 18
NYC Health Technology Food Forum: How Can Technology Help (and Hurt) Public Health Initiatives
CUNY School of Public Health
8:30am - 10:00am
2180 Third Avenue @119th St.
New York, NY 10035

December 2