Christopher Scott Krietchman, Mayoral Candidate 2021 Food Policy Interview

by NYC Food Policy Editor

In New York City, 1.2 million residents were food insecure prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that number has increased to around 2 million. How would you decrease poverty and end hunger in New York City?

I would like to create a meal program and delivery service from restaurants and grocery stores surplus before it has the opportunity to spoil to deliver to those in need of food. This can become a credit system for the businesses (taxes and income by being paid by the “city” through partnerships with large businesses and corporations that are located in NYC – especially Wall Street and Financial Institutions.

What specific steps will you take to increase the participation of eligible New Yorkers in federally-funded programs such as SNAP and WIC?

For starters, I would like to clean out the inefficiencies within the programs and call upon our local businesses and institutions to additionally fund and expand these programs, or create mirrored programs. Additionally, I would like to make sure that those who need these programs are reached, the actual eligible persons as well.

Would you increase the administrative power of the Mayor’s Office of Food Policy or would you provide a different structure for New York City food oversight? Please specifically include how your plan would a) enhance mechanisms for community engagement and direct democracy and b) unify the City’s public policies related to food (that are currently split among many different agencies and many massive, private, non-profit groups)?

I would do both. First I would definitely declare the priority in Food Policy (no New Yorker goes hungry, education on food allergies and restrictions, as well as information on portioning, etc.), and create a coalition of local New Yorkers who are represent all the neighborhoods and communities of NYC where there is a partnership that creates transparency and accountability to the people of NYC. Second I would create better, stronger and transparent partnerships with the private sector to create these systems that can be funded outside of political and bureaucratic control. Through these partnerships and platforms we will create marketing initiatives to foster more community engagement and direct democracy. Third, I would appoint Public Health to be oversight of the agencies, and massive, private, non-profit groups. We need a better management and operational system that can be more effective and efficient to serve the actual people who need to benefit.

How will you ensure the lived-experiences and expertise of communities of color are incorporated into the development and implementation of policies to build a more equitable food system? How will your policies approach the structural racism that exists in our food system?

As I previously mentioned, I want to create a coalition or council of local New Yorkers made up of people who are elected every 2 to 4 years (limited to 2 terms) from a representative of the different 300 plus neighborhoods, each culture and all the different communities (and I do mean all of them). Additionally we will add a single elected person from each local branch of government, agency and department to oversee and report to the millions of New Yorkers. We will address structural racism and all forms of corruption within the system through exposing all truths and information uncovered directly to the people through a digital platform that will allow reporting (an app or use existing public access channels), which can also allow voting by the people on how to address discovered problems. This can be a crowd-sourcing platform to have the community to present solutions and collaborations. 

How do you plan to invest in long-term food sovereignty in NYC that moves away from the current investment in Emergency Food as a response to systemic and long term food insecurity?

At the very beginning of my administration we will declare a new charter / ACT that is similar to the Future Generations Act in Whales, UK. Within this ACT we will declare what New York stands on – for example; We believe that all New Yorkers must have clear access to Basic Human Rights & Needs, Public Health & Wellness, Community & Culture, and we believe in Ethics & Communication. We rebuild our foundation of the city where we can build upon with security and consciousness. As we are establishing this, we will also audit all aspects of the systems to identify all the inefficiencies and corruption to remove systemic and long term food insecurity. Enforcing our current rules, creating new ones, and holding those accountable for breaking their integrity with New York City.

Approximately 230 million meals are served annually by our NYC agencies. The Good Food Purchasing Program, which is currently in the early stages of implementation here in NYC, uses the enormous strength of our City’s food procurement power to improve the local and regional food systems in the areas of workers’ rights, environmental sustainability, local economies, nutrition, animal welfare, and meaningfully infuse racial equity and transparency practices into the food system. We want to understand your commitment to maximizing the impact of the Good Food Purchasing Program in your administration. Can you speak to the resources that you would harness to make this happen?

This is exactly what I support and want to champion. We need to expand and grow this Program, but again add transparency and accountability to remove as many possibilities of inefficiencies and corruption. This will be backed, supported, and enforced through the ACT I intend to create here in NYC that will establish a new minimally acceptable human experience.

It is important for students to have access to food that fuels them and helps them succeed in school. Students deserve school meals that are a respected, valued part of the school day as well as a wide range of food options, including Halal, Kosher, and options for people with extreme allergies. How important is school food to you? What would you do to improve the school meal quality, experience, and options?

As a person with Food Allergies and Entrepreneur (former owner of a daily delivery meal program), this personally resonates with me, as I find nutrition and access to what one needs a paramount of importance. Portion control is exponentially important as well. This is a priority under what I seek to establish for NYC and that being a New Minimal Acceptable Human Experience. Everyone has different needs and we all know that what we eat is the fuel for our bodies, which creates the energy we need to operate and use our attention. We will expand and evolve this for students and provide them with access to learn what is best for them and their nutrition through integration with nutritionists and public health doctors in collaboration with families and parents. We all deserve to be healthy and educated on options.

What would you do to improve the quality and nutritional value of institutional meals provided by City agencies (e.g. school food, senior meals, etc.)?

It’s time for more transparency and accountability to the people of NYC and access with food vendors to higher quality foods, even collaborations with our local and national celebrity chefs. I believe the Food Network has a base here and we should capitalize on that opportunity.

How will you work to better support and expand the capacity of non-profit community-based organizations and their staff who are serving meals to older adults through the Department for the Aging, including Senior Center and home-delivered meal providers? (For context, in normal times, these chronically underfunded systems serve roughly 20,000 and 30,000 older adults respectively, and could be better utilized to expand their reach.)

Then we must audit their operations and improve on their systems to expand its operations and capabilities along with innovative approaches to maximise its impact. Therefore; we must get more abilities and access for them through less red tape and more funding, again, through seeking investment from our local community (the private sector). Many companies grow and prosper here as a benefit of the Financial Markets (and other NYC unique sectors) and I feel with the right conversations and relationships we can create a separate fund from them to increase capacities of these programs.

What would you do to ensure food workers are treated equitably?

This falls back to transparency and accountability through ethical practices. We must have an “audit” done to create more transparency to the public so that we can, first hand, see what is happening and have enforceable repercussions for violating any food worker’s treatment. We can also provide them with a review system to grade them along with increasing their pay with the use of a City Coin that will provide equity that they can potentially borrow against.

How would you fortify and expand community-driven efforts towards an equitable, sustainable and resilient food system?

We have to start with education and marketing. Teach and influence through partnerships and cultural phenomenon that will inspire this effort and create incentives to fortify it through tax benefits and use of a City Coin (Blockchain) Currency.

What did you have for breakfast this morning?

I actually fast and only eat dinner each day. Last night I had hummus, some grilled seafood, and eggplant.

One word you would use to describe the food system?


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