Policy Briefs

source: The Prime Minister's OfficeFood Policy Briefs

Our series of short reports that summarize recent policy news and scientific studies of key food policy questions.






Beyond Pathmark: A Policy Brief  – November 2015

by Nicholas Freudenberg, Faculty Director, NYC Food Policy Center

The closing of the Pathmark supermarket on 125th Street and Lexington Avenue confronts the people of East Harlem with some immediate problems and raises important questions for the future of this community. In this policy brief, the New York City Food Policy Center at Hunter College provides a brief background for the closing, identifies short term concerns and invites East Harlem residents and leaders to consider the longer term concerns the closing highlights. read more…



Growing the Public Sector in Food: A Strategy to Promote Health and Equity – February 2015

by Nicholas Freudenberg, Faculty Director, NYC Food Policy Center

On January 28, Center Director Nick Freudenberg presented at the Annual New Partners for Smart Growth in Baltimore, Maryland. He was a panelist at the closing plenary of the Pre-Conference Workshop on Advancing Local and Regional Food Systems: Opportunities to Grow Resilient, Equitable Communities. read more…



Needed: New Thinking on Poverty and Hunger in New York City – December 2014

by Nicholas Freudenberg, Faculty Director, NYC Food Policy Center

In the last month, three new reports on hunger and poverty in New York City have been released.  Food Bank for New York City produced The Hunger Cliff One Year Later: 56 million meals lost and the need for emergency food remains high.  The New York City Coalition Against Hunger (NYCCAH) produced The Unkindest Cuts, its 2014 Hunger Report, and the Women’s Center for Education and Career Advancement released Overlooked and Undercounted The Struggle to Make Ends Meet in New York City.  Together the reports paint a devastating and depressing portrait of the life circumstances of our city’s low income populations and the painful consequences of city, state and federal policies that continue to widen the city’s inequality gap. read more…



How better U.S. Food Policies could foster improved health, safer jobs, and a more sustainable environment – October 2014

by Nicholas Freudenberg, Faculty Director, NYC Food Policy Center

The upcoming 2016 United States election could serve as a forum for a national dialogue on food policy. In the next two years, food advocates need to consider how to frame the issues. here’s one approach. read more…



Back to School with Universal Free Lunch for Children in NYC Middle Schools – July 2014

by Jan Poppendieck, Policy Director, NYC Food Policy Center

When school starts this September, school lunch will be served free of charge to any NYC middle school student who wants one. The free-for-all system will replace the current means-tested approach for the city’s approximately 170,000 middle schoolers in all of its nearly 300 middle schools. read more…


Food Policy Brief: Time to Talk on Added Sugar Policy – July 2014

by Nicholas Freudenberg, Faculty Director, NYC Food Policy Center

Late last month, the New York State Court of Appeals ruled that the New York City Board of Health exceeded the scope of its regulatory authority by adopting the “Sugary Drinks Portion Cap Rule”. The majority opinion concluded that in choosing this policy goal, the Board of Health “without any legislative delegation or guidance engaged in law-making and thus infringed upon the legislative jurisdiction of the City Council of New York.” read more…


Food Policy Brief: How the New Farm Bill Hurts Women – February 2014

by Jan Poppendieck, Faculty Co-director, NYC Food Policy Center

The Agricultural Act of 2014—or the Farm Bill—signed by President Obama on February 7 cuts $8.6 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) over the next ten years. Like almost anything that harms poor Americans, the cuts to SNAP will hurt women and children most. Among adult SNAP recipients, more than three-fifths are women, and among older adult participants, almost two thirds are women. Taken together, women and children are nearly four-fifths of all participants. Thus the cuts disproportionately affect women, both as recipients and as parents. read more…


Food Policy Brief: What’s Up with the SNAP Cuts? – February 2014

by Jan Poppendieck, Faculty Co-director, NYC Food Policy Center

Most of the “savings” in the nutrition titles of the new Farm Bill come from a change in the way in which benefits are calculated. SNAP rules and regulations are complex and technical, but the underlying idea is fairly simple. USDA has established the cost of a minimally adequate diet, called the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP) for each household size. Participating households are expected to spend 30 % of their disposable income on food, and SNAP makes up the difference between that sum and the cost of the TFP. The lower the household’s disposable income, the larger the benefit.  By “disposable income,” also called “net income,” the program means income after certain allowable deductions—the cost of child care needed to permit parents to work, for example, or medical costs. Thus the allowable deductions are a key determinant of benefit size, and the new legislation changes a provision that affects the size of allowable deductions. Read more…


Food Policy Brief: After Tobacco, Should CVS Next Take Sugary Drinks and Snacks Off Its Shelves?  – February 2014

by Nicholas Freudenberg, Faculty Co-director, NYC Food Policy Center

Earlier this month, the pharmacy chain CVS announced that it would stop selling tobacco products at its 7,600 pharmacies around the United States as of October 1st. According to Forbes, CVS CEO Larry Merlo believes that “continuing to sell cigarettes, which the Surgeon General blames for 480,000 deaths every year from heart disease, lung cancer, and stroke, was anathema to CVS’ long-term plan to become a central player in the U.S. health care system.”  CVS predicts it will lose $2 billion of $125 billion in annual revenues but expects to gain more by emphasizing its products and services that treat the chronic diseases that tobacco, alcohol and unhealthy food cause. read more…


Food Policy Brief: Do More Supermarkets Make Healthier Food More Available?

by Nicholas Freudenberg, Faculty Co-director, NYC Food Policy Center

Do more supermarkets in a neighborhood make healthier food more available? Are people living in neighborhoods with fewer supermarkets at higher risk of obesity, diabetes and other diet-related diseases?  A recent international review and a study in New York City , cited at the end of this report,  provide evidence on these questions.  A few cautions are in order, however.  First, the evidence that supermarkets provide a health advantage seems stronger for the United States than for countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. read more…

Why SNAP Benefits Need To Be Raised, Not Cut

by Jan Poppendieck, Faculty Co-director, NYC Food Policy Center

“Unless Congress acts, SNAP benefits to all participants will be cut in November 1, 2013 when the benefit increase established under the ARRA will terminate.  SNAP benefits, however, need to be raised, not cut.  For most participants, benefits run out before the end of the month, leaving households without resources to purchase nutritious food.  A recent analysis of SNAP redemption patterns found that on average, participating households have less than a quarter of their benefits left by the mid point of the month. Although the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP) on which the SNAP benefit calculation is based, is technically a nutritious diet suitable for ongoing use, there are several reasons why many households in the SNAP program are unable to meet their nutritional needs with current program benefits.” read more…


Food Safety and the Government Shutdown

by Ashley Rafalow, NYC Food Policy Center

“Two of the three government agencies responsible for protecting the public from outbreaks of food-borne illness have been forced to enact severe cutbacks in response to the government shutdown.  These agencies, FDA and CDC, jointly oversee our supply of fruit, vegetables, dairy products and many other domestic foods. USDA, responsible for inspection of meat and poultry plants, has been largely spared from the cuts.” read more…


Creating Good Food Jobs in NYC

by Nicholas Freudenberg, Faculty Co-director and Ashley Rafalow, Operations and Communications Coordinator, NYC Food Policy Center

“New York City faces no more urgent task than creating new jobs that can reduce unemployment, help people move out of poverty, and assist the city in recovering from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.   Can food jobs play a role in this task?  Can creating new food jobs also help the city to reduce food insecurity, hunger and diet-related diseases such as diabetes?” read more…


What’s Up With SNAP?

by Jan Poppendieck, Faculty Co-director, NYC Food Policy Center

“The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, currently serves about one in seven Americans. It brings 80 billion dollars worth of benefits into low income households and communities annually.  In the wake of the welfare reform of the mid 1990s, it has become the only federal income support for millions of Americans.  Twenty percent of the 47 million SNAP recipients have no other income at all.” read more…

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