NYC Food Policy Center July 2022 Food Flash

by Emily Solomon

A roundup of food policy topics

What’s Hot: Inflation Causes Rent and Food Prices to Skyrocket, Reaching the Highest They’ve Been in 40 Years

This month, rent in New York City reached an average of $5,000 a month. At the same time, food prices have soared across the country, rising about 10.4 percent since last June. A number of factors, including war in the Ukraine and the pandemic, have contributed to the high price of food. 

Experts predict that prices won’t decrease any time soon, and that the government may not offer any kind of relief. In May, President Biden presented a plan to curb food costs by encouraging more planting and harvesting of food, and expanded the budget for domestic fertilizer production to alleviate supply chain blocks.

In response to soaring prices, people have changed their consumption behaviors. Restaurant workers have also felt the impact of high food prices, with fewer and fewer potential customers wanting to spend money on dining out. Food pantries across the city have seen a surge in  clients this summer, even having to impose restrictions that limit service to people within the same area code or of a certain age. 

As of this month, one and a half million New Yorkers are food insecure. To find a food pantry near you, visit the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center’s resource guides.

Food Policy Watchdog: New Bill “Food Donation Improvement Act” Could Help Retail Stores Donate Surplus Food More Easily

A bill called the Food Donation Improvement Act was discussed this month at the U.S Capital. The bipartisan bill was introduced in December 2021 in order to make it easier for organizations and businesses to donate surplus food, and, therefore, help mitigate food waste and feed communities in need.This act would include liability protection for those who are not registered as nonprofits, as food donations at this moment cause a great risk of lawsuits related to spoiled food, allergens, etc to organizations not listed as nonprofits.  According to one source, the bill would, “encourage food donation efforts by extending liability protections to food donors when food is either given directly to a person in need or when a recipient pays a deeply reduced cost.” The expansion of these protections would allow institutions, organizations, and companies to increase the efficiency of their food donation programs. 

Although the bill is yet to be voted on,Representative Jim Govern said during his remarks “Whether we attach it to a bill like the Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) Act or whether we have to bring this separately, I just want to get it over the finish line before the end of the year. We have to focus on what we can get done in the next couple of months.”

Quote of the Month: “It was easy to believe, having worked in fine dining, that we would never be ready. That we would never be good enough to open something here. The dining public is interested in seeing cuisines and perspectives of folks that have largely been swept under the rug. It’s important to note that queer folks have always been a meaningful part of this industry” – Chef Telly Justice of HAGS.

HAGS is New York City’s newest queer fine dining restaurant. Located in the East Village,  Telly Justice and Camille Lindsley, both chefs who have experience in cooking at well known restaurants and the rigid world of fine dining, have put together a space that “offers a simple five-course prix fixe menu to reduce pedantry and eliminate food waste”. Their menu is bold, to the point, and delicious. It comes in response to traditional stuffy fine dining institutions and aims to inspire inclusivity. From styling to innovative American dishes, HAGS introduces a new era of fine dining. 

Fact Check: New Yorkers are the top consumers of hot dogs across the country.

According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, New Yorkers consume the most hot dogs of any place in the country. Some credit this to the simplicity of the New York hot dog. While other states dress theirs with everything from cream cheese to potato chips and even chili cheese, New Yorkers remain true to the basics. Just ketchup, mustard, and relish go a long way and have earned us the title of hot dog connoisseurs.  

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