October 23, 2013
The New York City Food Forum (NYC Food Forum) is a group of food-active organizations that collectively support a better food future for New York City. The NYC Food Forum was born out of the collaborative effort of 12 co-host organizations to sponsor the Mayoral Candidate Forum on the Future of Food in New York City in July 2013. Six mayoral candidates, 76 partner organizations, an in-person audience of more than 750 people, and an online audience of more than 1,300 viewers attended the Mayoral forum, demonstrating the importance of food policy in our city. Since July, the Food Forum has:
- authored ‘A Food Primer for Our New Mayor,’ a document lays out priorities in five areas: hunger, healthy food, school food, food economy, and food governance,
- partnered with the HungerCliff.org project, a new national online and action resource where individuals and organizations are convening to speak out against cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as the food stamp program).
Read the full press release here
Read the primer below or Download here
The New York City Food Forum, a gathering of New York City food-active organizations, encourages our new Mayor to lead us towards a better food future for every New Yorker.
1. Hunger remains a persistent challenge. Our Mayor must:
- Enable more New Yorkers to put ample food on their tables by seeking State legislation empowering the City to enact a living minimum wage and leveraging the City’s economic power, through economic development programs, contracts, subsidies, and land use policy, to support and create living wage jobs;
- Focus the City’s welfare to work programs on job creation and training and create a public works program to break the post-recession cycle of high unemployment;
- Maximize participation in food assistance programs by removing barriers and disincentives, providing leadership and ample staff to improve effectiveness and civility, expanding education and enrollment efforts, taking full advantage of federal waivers and initiatives, and simplifying application processes and extending recertification periods;
- Increase the Emergency Food Assistance Program budget to $15 million and increase funding to expand senior center meal service and homebound meal delivery; and
- Be the nation’s greatest municipal advocate for protecting and strengthening federal nutrition assistance programs, including advocating for aligning the SNAP food budget with the USDA Low Cost Food Plan.
2. Healthy Food will sustain our City’s greatest natural resource, New Yorkers. Our Mayor must:
- Extend cost-effective SNAP EBT processing capabilities to more farmers’ markets and other food providers, including Green Carts, increase Health Bucks funding, and supplement Farmers Market Nutrition Program funding;
- Decrease the human and financial costs of preventable, diet-related illness and death by discouraging the promotion of unhealthy – high fat, sugar, and salt – food, especially to parents and children; and
- Promote access to healthy food by supporting community gardens, farmers’ and mobile markets, food vendors and other markets offering fresh and healthy choices, and CSAs and food co-ops.
3. School Food is a bulwark against student hunger, poor nutrition and health, and inattention. Our Mayor must:
- Implement free school lunch for all, mandate breakfast in every homeroom, and increase the number of sites serving summer and after-school meals;
- Continue to increase the nutritional value and quality of school meals by enhancing kitchen staff skills and increasing kitchen capital investment, so more tasty meals, that our children will want to eat, can be made from scratch, with more fresh, local ingredients; and
- Increase food literacy by continuing school garden support and mandating food and nutrition education, K to12, developing curricula with parents, teachers, and students to start in elementary school with homeroom gardens and to continue through middle and high schools with healthy food choice, cooking, and food justice education.
4. Food Economy, in a food town like no other, can be an engine for growth. Our Mayor must:
- Support regional farms and local food hubs, public markets, food vendors, food business incubators, urban agriculture, and community kitchens that provide healthy food, entrepreneurial opportunity, and living wages;
- Use the power of the City’s food budget to improve the nutritional quality of the meals it serves and support New York and other regional farms and food processors by aggressively employing regional preference and freshness criteria in food purchasing for meals served by City agencies, including the Department of Education;
- Eliminate wage theft and support safe working conditions, availability of paid sick days – in lieu of ordered shift swaps, health benefits, and the right to organize for every City food chain worker.
5. Food Governance in our City covers every segment of the food chain. While the City has a Food Policy Coordinator and an inter-agency food task force, there is no entity that clearly and openly coordinates food activities, nor is there a formal, inclusive mechanism for New Yorkers to inform City food policies. Our Mayor must:
- Establish high-level coordination of the City’s food activities to achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness through a Department of Food, or another empowered, adequately resourced mechanism;
- Enhance Food Metrics reporting by adding goals, integrating food purchasing source information, and adding additional information about food programs, including nutrition program participation, emergency food programs and food distribution preparedness, and urban agriculture land availability; and
- Support and fund an inclusive, participative process that engages New Yorkers from every food system intersection – public, private, not-for-profit, community/production, processing, distribution, consumption, waste – to give them a voice in shaping our City’s food future.