New York City Food Policy Watch
October 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 Michael Hurwitz, 
Director, New York City's Greenmarket Program
An ongoing series of interviews with food policy advocates

Michael Hurwitz is the Director of Greenmarket, a 38 year-old program of GrowNYC that operates 53 producer-only farmers markets throughout the five boroughs of New York City and the Wholesale Farmers Market located in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx. Greenmarket works with over 230 producers to preserve 38,000 acres of regional farmland by bringing the freshest and healthiest foods directly to NYC 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?

I came to food from a social work and change agent perspective. I knew nothing about food policy prior to 2000 and discovered the power of agriculture while standing with a 16-year-old in a community garden in Red Hook, Brooklyn. The more I learned about sustainable agriculture it became rather evident that where our food comes from, how it's grown and who has access to it are the three most important questions to be answered over the next 30 years. It also became clear rather quickly that agriculture, and urban agriculture in this instance, could address many of the challenges this young man and his community were facing, concerning youth and adult unemployment, access to healthy foods, food sovereignty, waste management, after-school programming, education, and the list goes on.


Policy Brief: 
How Better U.S Food Policies Could Foster Improved Health, Safer Jobs, and a More Sustainable Environment  
photo courtesy of Children's Aid Society

The upcoming 2016 United States election could serve as a forum for a national dialogue on food policy. In the next two years, food advocates need to consider how to frame the issues. here's one approach.


U.S. efforts to ensure safe and healthy food are falling short. Even as more than 49 million Americans lack access to adequate nutrition, corporations are aggressively marketing unhealthy foods that contribute to epidemics of diet-related diseases. Many of the 30 million workers in the food industry face unsafe conditions and do not earn enough to support themselves and their families. The production and transport of food often spurs pollution and global warming.


In classic economic theory, when markets fail to meet human needs, government steps in to protect the public. Today's U.S. public food programs and regulations amount to an incoherent and ineffective jumble - but fixing them could contribute to a healthier, more prosperous and sustainable American food economy.


Community Partner Spotlight:
Edible Schoolyard NYC 

Established in 2010, Edible Schoolyard NYC is a nonprofit organization committed to bringing Alice Waters' vision to New York City public schools as an effective solution to our childhood obesity crisis. ESYNYC educates NYC public school students to transform their relationship with food through interdisciplinary, hands-on garden and kitchen experiences.


Tell us about your work?

As the first official Edible Schoolyard affiliate in the Northeast, Edible Schoolyard NYC partners with public schools in low-income areas to build, maintain and staff garden and kitchen classrooms-all right on the school premises.  


In East Harlem, we work with P.S./M.S. 7 and Global Tech Prep to deliver monthly kitchen and garden classes for every student in the school. In addition, we run a weekly farmstand led by students and we host community garden days. 


Check out Edible Schoolyard's youth-run Farm Stand every Wednesday from 2-3pm just across the street from the CUNY School of Public Health | Silberman School of Social Work at 119th street, west of Third Avenue!


NYC Food by the Numbers: 
Food Trucks

In many cities, food trucks have become an important part of the food scene.  What's the story in New York City?

  • Number of licenses NYC Department of Health issues for food trucks and carts: 5,100 mobile-food-vending permits, which include trucks and food carts; just 500 belong to food-truck operators.
  • Most common food sold by food trucks:  ice cream
  • Estimate for cost of leasing a permit from another holder: $15,000 to $20,000 for two years
  • Estimated revenues from food trucks and carts in NYC: $15 million
Read more about NYC Food Trucks>>> 
New Report
"Better Health for London" produced by the London Health Commission 


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

The report issued by the London Health Commission was prepared by y former health minister and cancer surgeon, and current Chair of the London Health Commission,  Lord Ara Darzi.  One of the key initiatives is to ban smoking in Trafalgar and Parliament squares.  Here are some of the other recommendations: 


"1. Mandatory traffic-light labelling on restaurant menus. All chains with more than 15  outlets would be required to show traffic-light labelling on their menus to help Londoners
make healthier choices.
2. Oyster card discounts for commuters who walk to work. The scheme - financed by employers - would reward commuters who walk the last mile into work and the first mile home with discounts.
3. Restrictions on junk food outlets near schools. New planning guidance to prevent new junk food outlets opening within 400m of schools.
4. Pilots for a minimum price for alcohol. The plan would support Boroughs afflicted by problem drinking to use their licensing powers to set a minimum 50p per unit price.
5. Speeding up air quality measures. Measures to reduce pollution to be accelerated to save lives in the capital."

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

Current Food Policy News 

UN-backed forum spotlights civil society's role in fighting hunger, developing food policy

"The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today kicked-off a two-day meeting focusing on civil society's role in giving a voice to the hungry and how best to improve a multi-stakeholder approach to food security and nutrition policy development at national, regional and global levels."  

Read more here>>>  

"The four priorities are Social Justice, Youth Education, The Fight against Food Waste and Reconnecting producers and consumers."

Read more here>>>  


"'School food service directors, if you dare publicly disagree with the policy direction of the School Nutrition Association (SNA) you are in for an unpleasant surprise.  Your voice will likely be quashed."

"In L.A., here's how it would work: Parcels would be eligible for the tax break if they are between 0.10 and 3 acres in size, dedicated to agriculture and animal husbandry, free of dwellings not intended for agriculture or educational purposes and located within a zone that allows for agricultural use."

"More than 70 percent of Americans say they don't want genetically modified organisms in their food, according to a recent Consumer Reports National Research Center survey of 1,000 adults."


"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.     

Family meals matter. "Significant associations were found between positive family- and parent-level interpersonal dynamics (ie, warmth, group enjoyment, parental positive reinforcement) at family meals and reduced risk of childhood overweight."

Read the article>>>     

"Social media can act as a complementary information channel for a particular segment, but that it is not a substitute for traditional or online media. "

Does mandatory labeling for GMO foods "send a signal to consumers that foods produced with biotechnology are unsafe or should be avoided[?]" 


"Of 10 evaluation studies for interventions rated as effective for all populations in the primary review, 8 suggested effectiveness of child-focused interventions in school or child care settings for obesity- or physical activity-related outcomes in black Americans." 
Read the article>>>   

"We propose a four-step accountability framework to guide government and food industry engagement to address unhealthy food environments as part of a broader government-led strategy to address obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases." 
"Red vending choices were overwhelmingly selected over healthier vending options (59%). Vended snack food selections were most influenced by hunger (42%) and convenience (41%)." 

Read more recent food policy-focused journal articles>>>
In This Issue
Michael Hurwitz
Policy Brief
Community Partner Spotlight
NYC Food by the Numbers
Featured Article
Food Policy News
Food Policy Journal Watch
Upcoming Food Policy for Breakfast Seminars:

October 21
Could Campus Food be the Next School Food?
Making University Food Services a Force for Food Change
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
Food Policy for Breakfast: Universal Free Lunch in New York's Middle Schools: An Update
CUNY Graduate Center
9am - 10:30am
365 5th Avenue @34th St.
New York, NY 10016

Food Policy Center News 

What an incredible autumn -the People's Climate March just behind us, Food Day excitement percolating, a rich landscape of informative events and resources from which to learn. At the NYC Food Policy Center we're inspired constantly by the passionate advocates, organizers, students, policymakers, elected officials, service providers, researchers and others who work to bring about  changes to our City and our local food system. Here we highlight some recent events and initiatives.

As you know, the People's Climate March brought together an estimated 400,000 people, the largest climate march in history. The food justice contingent was represented in force, demanding action for a just, fair and sustainable food system that protects the environment and citizens of the world alike.

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