NYC Food Policy Center January 2023 Food Flash

by Emily Solomon

A roundup of food policy topics

What’s Hot: Hospitals in NYC Now Serving Plant- Based Dinners as the Primary Option for Inpatients

NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue, Harlem, and South Brooklyn Health will now offer new plant- based dishes as the primary dinner option for their inpatients. The selection includes 14 dishes ranging from Latin American to Asian and other cuisines. The new program expects to feed 850,000 people this year and ​​plans to expand the plant-based menu options to five post-acute care facilities in early 2023. This program is an expansion of the health care system’s Meatless Mondays Initiative. 

The plant based meals include the following options:

  • Moroccan Vegetable Tagine with Roasted Chickpeas and Brown Rice Pilaf
  • Rigatoni Pasta al Forno with Plant-Based Ricotta Cheese
  • Curried Kabocha Squash with Lima Beans, Dill, and White Rice
  • Orange Cauliflower with Edamame and Brown Rice Pilaf
  • Garden Bolognese with Rigatoni and Mixed Vegetables
  • Fiesta Black Bean Burger on a Whole Wheat Bun with Cauliflower
  • Whole Wheat Sicilian Pizza with Plant-Based Cheese 
  • Garden Bolognese with Rotini and Spinach
  • Pad Thai Noodle Bowl
  • Moroccan Root Vegetable Tagine with Tricolor Couscous
  • Southern Black-Eyed Pea Casserole with Plant-Based Cornbread Topped with Plant-Based Shredded Cheese
  • Zesty Burrito Bowl with Jicama Slaw with a Broccoli and Flour Tortilla
  • Spanish Vegetable Paella with Yellow Rice
  • Red Curry Vegetables with Roasted Tofu

Quote of the Month: 

“Science shows that a plant-based diet helps fight off disease, something that’s critical as New Yorkers find themselves in the throes of a ‘tripledemic’. Plant-based meals also help treat some of the chronic illnesses that cause many of our patients to wind up in the hospital. The expansion of our program will help get them on a healthier path. – Mitchell Katz, CEO and President of  NYC Health + Hospitals

This statement was made in response to the new meatless menus initiative that NYC Health + Hospitals have expanded this year. An addition of plant based alternatives offers options for folks who cannot or choose not to eat meat. Additionally, the hospitals would like to encourage patients to eat nutritiously while recovering during their stay. 

Food Policy Watchdog: Lawmakers Advocate for Free School Meals in the New York State Budget

Last month, New York lawmakers met in Albany to discuss funding for free school meals across New York State. It is estimated that 726,000 students in New York State have lost access to free meals since the expiration of the federal waiver that funded universal school meals during the Covid-19 pandemic. Since then advocacy efforts to fund school meals at the state level have intensified. Community Food Advocates, Healthy School Meals For All and many others have been working tirelessly to advocate for permanent universal free school meals throughout New York State. Other States, including Nebraska and Washington, are also pushing for universal free school meals . 

While it’s not yet known if the Free School Meals will be included in New York’s budget this year, Governor Kathy Huchol’s office has commented that, “Governor Hochul worked with the legislature on a budget that provides an unprecedented $31.5 billion in statewide funding for the current school year and a supplemental earned income tax credit to help families with rising costs. She will release details of the fiscal year 2024 Budget this year.”

Fact Check: Gas Stoves Come Under Fire 

Gas stoves in New York City and across the country have come under fire this month. Debates have sparked after it was announced that the US Consumer Product Safety Commission will consider regulating or even possibly banning gas stoves as new research links them to childhood asthma. The agency has not put forth any specific plans and will seek open public comment in the coming months. 

Many in the restaurant industry are pushing back. Chefs in New York City have responded by emphasizing their need for gas stoves and the impact a ban could have on business. Additionally, Andrew Rigie, executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, stated that, “The cost to convert equipment over to induction and ensuring a commercial kitchen has an adequate electrical load can be complex and cost-prohibitive for many restaurants.” While a ban on gas stoves is likely not imminent, more and more concerns about their  effect on health, climate change, and the emission of fossil fuels incentivise further review of the product.  

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