In late September, members of the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute had the opportunity to share current best practices and learn from others who play an active role in creating platforms that support students’ basic needs on college campuses across the United States at the #RealCollege Conference. The two-day conference connected professors, students, campus staff members, non-profit organizations , campus food pantry directors and others to work on alleviating hunger and homelessness among the college student population. Over 500 attendees were hosted at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA and were welcomed to the new The Hope Center for College, Community and Justice.
Seven years ago, the first United Nations High Level meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs -- the public health term for chronic diseases) met to discuss the growing health, social and economic burdens NCDs were imposing on high, middle- and low-income countries around the world. A World Health Organization report prepared for the UN meeting concluded that four risk factors -- tobacco use, unhealthy diets, alcohol use and physical inactivity accounted for the vast majority of the rising prevalence of premature deaths and preventable illnesses from conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, hypertension and some forms of cancer. Later, the UN and WHO set the goal of reducing premature deaths -- those before age 70 -- by 25% by 2025, a goal that has proved elusive. Here in the United States and New York City and around the world, NCDs are a leading cause of persistent inequities in health between the better off and the poor and in the US between Blacks and other people of color and whites.
In August 2018, delegates from the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute attended the fourth World Cities World Class University Network (WC2) Symposium on the topic of “Migration, the City, and the University” at Ryerson University in Toronto. The WC2 Network, of which CUNY is a member, brings together ten leading universities based in global cities around the world – from New York City to Mexico City, Sao Paolo, London, Berlin, St. Petersburg, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Melbourne, and Toronto – with the shared goal of crafting joint solutions to some of the world’s most urgent and complex urban challenges.
This policy brief summarizes what is known about the impact of food industry practices on diet-related NCDs and describes some of the actions government, civil society and business have taken to prevent these conditions since the 2011 UN meeting. Finally, it examines how in the coming years New York City can learn from and teach others from around the world how to change the food industry practices that contribute to diet-related NCDs.