NYC Food Policy Center January 2024 Food Flash

by Marissa Sheldon, MPH
Food Flash

A roundup of food policy topics

What’s Hot: NYC Delivery Workers Minimum Wage Increase
The nation’s first minimum wage law for app-based delivery workers went into effect in NYC in early December. The law requires food delivery apps like DoorDash, GrubHub, and Uber Eats, to pay their delivery workers at least $17.96 per hour plus tips. Previously, most delivery workers earned an average of $7 per hour before tips. 

The law passed in June 2023 and was set to go into effect on July 12, 2023, but was delayed due to lawsuits filed against the city by the delivery apps. On September 28, New York State Appeals Judge Nicholas Moyne ruled against the tech companies and allowed the wage increase to take effect. However, Uber then appealed to a higher court, the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court, which caused further delays. On November 30, Judge Llinét M. Rosado denied Uber’s appeal, and the minimum wage went into effect in early December. 

Now, because app-based delivery workers are guaranteed a minimum wage, they can take more time to make their deliveries safely, rather than racing through busy NYC streets in order to make as many deliveries as possible to earn more money. 

Food Policy Watchdog: 21 Million Kids will Receive Summer Food Benefits
On January 10, the USDA announced that a total of 44 states, US territories, and tribes will be participating in the new Summer EBT program that provides grocery benefits for low-income families with school-aged children (including preschool) when schools are closed for the summer. Eligible families – those who qualify for free or reduced-price school lunch – will receive an EBT card that will be loaded automatically with $40 per child per month to purchase groceries anywhere that SNAP benefits are accepted.  

Evaluations of a multi-year demonstration project proved that a Summer EBT program can reduce child hunger and improve diet quality. 

Fifteen states – Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, and Wyoming – opted out of participating in the program in 2024, citing reasons including administrative burden, existing summer nutrition programs, or their refusal to accept federal money. 

Farm Bill Update
On November 16, 2023, President Joe Biden signed the Further Continuing Appropriations and Other Extensions Act, 2024, which extends the 2018 Farm Bill and allows authorized programs to continue operating through September 30, 2024. Lawmakers are still hoping to pass a new farm bill by the summer of 2024, but funding delays and disagreements between political parties leave no guarantees. 

On January 17, Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich) introduced a new crop insurance proposal that would allow for greater variety and affordability among crop insurance options for farmers without dipping into funding for other Democratic priorities such as nutrition or climate. To achieve this goal, Stabenow suggests streamlining policies like the Whole Farm Revenue Protection program and the Micro Farm Insurance program. However, this proposal is receiving some pushback from Republican committee members. 

Quote of the Month: “No child in this country should go hungry. They certainly shouldn’t go hungry because they lose access to nutritious school meals during the summer months.” – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack

Fact Check: Growing Corn on Mars
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) wants to grow corn on Mars. SPACE2 (Space, Policy, Agriculture, Climate, and Extreme Environment) is a team led by Professors Santosh Pitla and Yufeng Ge, whose mission is to “grow the first acre of corn on Mars’ soil.” Why? Professor Ge explains that it is an important vision for multiple reasons. 

  1. To support astronauts traveling into space.
  2. To create a foundation to support life outside of Earth.
  3. To conduct novel experiments in agriculture to answer questions such as “how does gravity affect plants?” and help increase plants’ resilience amidst the challenges of climate change. 

Nebraska ranks third among the top agriculture-producing states and grows millions of acres of corn, making UNL well-situated to lead the way in space-based agriculture. 

Related Articles

Subscribe To Weekly NYC Food Policy Watch Newsletter
Subscribe to our weekly email newsletter today to receive updates on the latest news, reports and event information
No Thanks
Thanks for signing up. You must confirm your email address before we can send you. Please check your email and follow the instructions.
We respect your privacy. Your information is safe and will never be shared.
Don't miss out. Subscribe today.