NYC Food Policy Center August 2022 Food Flash

by Emily Solomon

A roundup of food policy topics

What’s Hot: NYC To Become Home to Largest Compost Program Following Mayor Adams’s Expansion Announcement 

Mayor Eric Adams has announced that, beginning on October 3rd, 2022, the City’s Curbside Composting program will expand to include all residential homes in Queens, the largest borough by area in New York City. Queens residents will not have to sign up in order to receive this service. They will be able to voluntarily put their food scraps and yard waste out on their assigned day for the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) to pick up. There will be a three-month pause during the winter, from December until March. 

Organic waste makes up 34 percent of New York City’s residential waste stream. The expansion of the Curbside Composting Program will not only make composting more accessible, it will also work towards the city’s goal of reducing landfill by 90 percent by 2030. 

Food Policy Watchdog: US Commits $80 Million to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization to Improve Food Security and Nutrition for Afghans

Earlier this month the U.S announced an $80 million  commitment to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to improve food security and nutrition for Afghans. This initiative will include assistance to small-holder farmers and herders, women head-of-households, and small-scale producers in order to increase the production of nutritious foods and incorporate sustainable farming practices that are resilient to climate and economic shocks. 

The United States Agency for International Development will be assisting the implementation of these programs in the same way they have addressed the high levels of hunger in Afghanistan since August 2021. This additional funding adds up to a total of $775 million in humanitarian assistance from the U.S. 

Quote of the Month: “We’re giving farms and schools the ability to forge connections, to forge new supply chains by supporting local procurement,” Lena Brook, Director of Food Campaigns from the National Resources Defense Council, on Farm to School Expansion Programs across California.

Farm to school programs are expanding in California as growing supply-chain issues make funding for them increasingly more important. For the 2022-23 school year, California’s state budget includes $60 million allocated for these programs. And, according to the USDA’s 2019 farm-to-school census, about 43 million children nationally participate in Farm to school programs each year.

As more schools adopt these programs, directors are finding that they must find staff who are able to handle on-site food preparation of foods the kids will like. Overall, according to Brook, these options are feasible as long as the government is willing to provide the technical assistance needed to develop the program in schools. This would mean helping with kitchen upgrades, onsite staff, and more. “In order for these goals to be realized we need a long-term funding commitment from the legislature,”she says. 

Fact Check: New Yorkers Who Participate in Nutrition Programs Rate Them Highly, but Not All Food Insecure New Yorkers Are Eligible 

The 2022 NYHealth Survey of Food and Health aimed to examine the lived experience of food insecure New Yorkers. The data was collected through an online survey of 1,507 New Yorkers between November 24, 2021 and December 6 of 2021. In addition, a focus group was conducted by the New York Health Foundation. 

Key findings describe the connections between food and New Yorkers’ health, the multiple reasons why obtaining and preparing food can be difficult, and the tradeoffs that individuals make to put food on the table. The survey found that people who participate in food benefit programs rate them highly and 89 percent of respondents agreed that food and nutrition programs are easy to use. However, the study found 28 percent of those who are food-insecure did not participate in any benefit or emergency food programs in the past year. A key policy recommendation included in the report is that the City must make food benefit applications and recertification easier so that all of those in need are able to participate.

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