Earlier this month, Institute Director Nick Freudenberg wrote a guest post for the City University of London's blog, Dispatches from the Centre for Food Policy. The focus of the post was a summary of the Institute's recent report, Food Policy in New York City Since 2008: Lessons for the Next Decade.
Freudenberg responds to op-ed dismissing food insecurity issues in higher ed
Institute Director Nicholas Freudenberg, along with colleagues from other universities, was featured in USA Today in a letter to the editor in response to an op-ed by James Bovard on food insecurity among college students.
Letter to the editor:
James Bovard exhibits little knowledge of higher education and college students, ignorance about the relationship between food insecurity and obesity, bigotry based on gender identity and sexual orientation, and limited understanding of research methods.
Contrary to his assertions, students today work hard. One in four students has a child, 70% are employed and all face higher-than-ever tuition prices. Far from a “largesse,” the Pell grant covers just 1/3 of the cost of attending a public university. Bovard's claim that food insecure people are lazy is undermined by the fact that food insecurity and work hours are positively correlated.
Many studies affirm the HOPE Lab’s findings. Studies at California State University and University of California found that 42-44% of students experienced food insecurity. At CUNY, the nation's largest urban public university, studies show that about 60,000 students are food insecure. Hunger is the colloquial term for food insecurity used by regular Americans. The HOPE Lab didn’t “redefine” hunger but employed the USDA’s standardized, validated module. Moreover, weight gain doesn’t contradict evidence of food insecurity, as the two are positively correlated in the United States.
Finally, the greater risk of food insecurity faced by non-binary and LGBTQ students has nothing to do with “cavorting.” The financial aid system disadvantages students estranged from their families, and students cut off from loved ones because of gender identity or sexual orientation often incur painful financial consequences. Making fun of those students is simply cruel.
Nick Freudenberg of City University of New York School of Public Health, Sara Goldrick-Rab of Temple University, Suzanna Martinez of University of California Nutrition Policy Institute, and Aydin Nazmi of California Polytechnic State University
by Nevin Cohen
Gentrification has transformed low-income communities worldwide. The process is complex but often follows a consistent pattern: capital flows into low-income neighborhoods, more affluent residents move in, real estate values go up, the housing stock is upgraded, low-income residents are forced to leave, and community character changes to accommodate the newcomers. Gentrification can happen abruptly, with people and businesses displaced through eviction, but more commonly occurs gradually, even over generations, as children of longtime residents leave because they cannot afford to remain in the neighborhood in which they grew up. The impact of gentrification varies, too. Those able to remain in place while their neighborhoods gentrify may benefit from new investments, more political influence, and better infrastructure and services, or they may suffer the loss of place as commerce, culture, civic life, aesthetics, and the people living around them become unaffordable, unfamiliar, or unwelcoming.
In the last decade, cities around the US have begun thinking of ways to address the inhumane treatment of animals in the food system, often by joining forces in order to have a greater impact. Here we describe a handful of strategies used by cities, which together can have a powerful impact on the lives and well-being of livestock.
Several cities have implemented the animal welfare standards established under the Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP) which provides guidance for institutions and municipalities for creating a more just food system by adhering to five core values: promoting animal welfare, supporting local economies, encouraging adequate nutrition, protecting the environment, and valuing our workforce. The GFPP standards were first adopted in Los Angeles in 2012 and have since been adopted by San Francisco, Oakland, and Chicago. GFPP stakeholders in other cities are involved in active campaigns to establish the standards in their areas including Austin, Buffalo, and New York City. Large scale adoption of the GFPP standards can have an enormous impact on animal welfare. In Los Angeles alone it has meant a $20 million contract awarded for chicken produced free of routinely administered antibiotics, a practice that can lead to antibiotic resistance in animals and humans.
Several school districts, including New York City, Miami, and Baltimore, have formed the Urban School Food Alliance to establish a set of best practices in order to improve school food quality and lower costs. One of these includes the purchasing of only antibiotic-free poultry raised under humane conditions which ensures respectful treatment of animals and “prevents and/or minimizes fear, pain, and stress.” Similarly, in California, Oakland’s school district together with those from San Diego and Riverside formed the Chicken Procurement Project during the 2013-2014 school year, which focused on sourcing California-bred poultry, free of antibiotics and raised under humane and environmentally sustainable conditions. Moreover, school districts in Pittsburgh and Oakland have worked with Mindful Meats, a cattle producer focused on maintaining humane conditions for their animals, to source beef raised in a more ethical and environmentally sustainable way.
Another strategy cities are using to address animal welfare issues is implementing Meatless Monday polices in which every Monday an all-vegetarian menu is served at every meal. In New York City, a Meatless Monday pilot Program is being conducted at 15 public schools in Brooklyn beginning in the spring of 2018. Recently, the New York City’s Department of Education, in partnership with Coalition for Healthy School Food, has expanded on the Meatless Monday approach by guiding three public schools through the process of transitioning to a completely vegetarian menu year round, while another 1,200 schools are set to include one vegan meal option one day per week. Similarly, a recent resolution put forth by New York City Councilmembers, with the support of the Brooklyn Borough President, calls for a ban on processed meats being served in New York City public schools, which could help further reduce meat consumption. Furthermore, Meatless Monday campaigns have made steady progress toward reducing the amount of meat consumed not only in public school districts, but in a wide variety of settings including hospitals, college campuses and government offices and have garnered support from elected officials around the country.
This wide range of municipal efforts to improve animal welfare indicates that the humane treatment of animals is an issue that cities can and should play a role in. Elected officials and city agencies have the power to transform the behavior of food producers through a combination of procurement practices and policy action. By adopting and expanding on the work established by the Meatless Monday Campaign, the Good Food Purchasing Program, and the Chicken Procurement Project, cities can play a vital role in shaping our food system into one that is defined by better farming practices and fewer animals.
Hunger and Food Insecurity in the Community College Foodscape:
The Need for a Holistic Approach to Research and Action
By Dr. Rositsa Ilieva 1,2 and Dr. Tanzina Ahmed 3
1 The New School, New York, NY; 2 Hunter College, CUNY, New York, NY; 3 Bronx Community College, CUNY, Bronx, NY
Within community colleges across the United States, students’ food insecurity is a widely-spread  yet insufficiently studied phenomenon. There is reason to believe that a majority of students in two year colleges may be food insecure. For instance, a 2017 survey of 33,000 students at 70 community colleges revealed that two out of three students attending community colleges were food insecure . Such severe levels of food insecurity have led to institutional action, as the number of campus food pantries, at both colleges and universities, has risen from a handful in 2009 to more than 500 in 2017 . In New York City alone, several community colleges, including Guttman Community College and Bronx Community College, both part of CUNY, have opened food pantries to alleviate their students’ food insecurity. A key question now is whether and to what extent interventions such as food pantries can alleviate college food insecurity, especially at community colleges.
One barrier to answering that question is the paucity of research on food insecurity in community colleges, which limits our understanding of how students experience and alleviate hunger in these institutions. To address this knowledge gap, we devised a pilot research study that utilizes mixed-methods to uncover how community college students at a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) in New York City navigate the college foodscape. Participating students filled out both a survey instrument (which asked questions about their experiences with food insecurity and food choices on and off campus) and three narrative prompts (which allowed them to write about their unique food experiences).
Almost three hundred (278) predominantly minority and low-income students participated in the study during the Fall 2017 semester. More than 90% of student participants reported low levels of food security. Furthermore, students reported connections between their level of food insecurity and academic difficulties and revealed their preference for purchasing food through vending machines and neighborhood bodegas rather than the campus food court or café. Within their narratives, students’ frequent complaints about the difficulties of finding healthy and affordable food on campus explains their relative aversion toward purchasing food from the expensive campus cafeteria and cafe. Finally, students’ frequently voiced distrust of the food-related choices of the community college institution might partially explain their lack of knowledge about or use of the campus food pantry.
Ultimately, our work suggests a grave mismatch between institutional efforts with food pantry and students’ responses to the institutions’ food-related efforts. While community college institutions hope to help students overcome food insecurity through food pantries, students may disregard such efforts due to distrust stemming from previous experiences with expensive and dissatisfying food on campus. Additionally, community college food security can hardly be achieved without a deeper understanding of the intricate social, cultural, economic, and environmental factors determining students’ experiences and choices on campus. Pioneering initiatives like the recently launched CUNY Food Security Advocates Project  are a promising step in the right direction. It is our hope that recent political and institutional attention on the issue will further scale up and expand interdisciplinary and community-engaged approaches to studying and addressing hunger at community colleges.
 Blagg, K., Craig Gundersen, Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, and James P. Ziliak (2017). Assessing Food Insecurity on Campus: A National Look at Food Insecurity among America’s College Students. Washington, DC: Urban Institute.
 Dubick, James, Brandon Mathews, and Clare Cady (2016). Hunger on Campus: The Challenge of Food Insecurity for College Students. College and University Food Bank Alliance, National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness, Student Government Resource Center, Student Public Interest Research Groups.
 [College and University Food Bank Alliance. “Officially 500+ Alliance Members!!!” Retrieved from: https://sites.temple.edu/cufba/2017/09/08/officially-500-alliance-members/
 Goldrick-Rab, Sara, Jed Richardson, and Anthony Hernandez (2017). Hungry and Homeless in College: Results from a National Study of Basic Needs Insecurity in Higher Education. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Hope Lab.
 New York State (December 28, 2017), Governor Cuomo Unveils 15th Proposal of 2018 State of the State: Launch Comprehensive No Student Goes Hungry Program. Retrieved from: https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-unveils-15th-proposal-2018-state-state-launch-comprehensive-no-student-goes
 CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute. Food at CUNY. http://www.cunyurbanfoodpolicy.org/food-at-cuny/