Each year more than 6,000 New York City residents are hospitalized for food-borne illnesses, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH). In 2017, 3,287 suspected food poisoning cases were reported to 311 and the NYC DOHMH. Between 2010 and 2017, the number of these annual complaints to 311 increased by almost 20 percent.
Community Development Corporations (CDCs) and Settlement Houses (SHs) strive to create strong, healthy communities that make it easier for their residents to find healthy affordable food and good jobs. To advance work on achieving these two goals, the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, Local Initiatives Support Corporation New York City (LISC NYC), United Neighborhood Houses (UNH), and the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (Restoration) partnered to identify promising models for integrating workforce development and healthy food access. The goal of such integration is to expand the capacity of these organizations to grow and nurture new approaches to creating more good food jobs, approaches that have the potential for being developed, expanded and sustained in low-income neighborhoods across New York City. While our focus in this report is on New York City, we believe that the models and strategies described here are also relevant to other cities in the United States.
For more than 50 years, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has helped millions of Americans to avoid hunger, improve their health and alleviate the consequences of poverty. Two other federal programs Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and School Food have for decades provided similar protections for pregnant women, new mothers and their young children and school children, respectively. From its earliest days, the United States has debated immigration policy, at times restricting access for some and at other times welcoming groups from many nations. Today, President Trump and Congress are acting to reverse two American traditions, providing food support for the hungry and welcoming those from other nations. New York City and State have both the obligation and the opportunity to chart new paths in creating city, state and community programs that reaffirm these core American values.
For more than a century, New York City has led the nation in using the authority and resources of municipal government to make healthy food, that most basic of human needs, more available, affordable and safer for all city residents. In this report, the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute takes stock of what has changed in food policy in New York City since 2008. The goal is to provide evidence that can inform more equitable solutions to urban food problems in New York City and elsewhere.
In May 2016 the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute posted at eatingineastharlem.org the complete report Eating in East Harlem An Assessment of Changing Foodscapes in Community District 11, 2000-2015. The report, which we presented at the CUNY Urban Food Policy Forum on March 24th, analyzes changes in five domains -- food retail, food insecurity and food benefits, institutional food, food and nutrition education, and diet-related health conditions -- in East Harlem from before the election of Michael Bloomberg through the first two years of the de Blasio Administration.
Its goal is to assess the ways in which food environments in East Harlem have improved, stayed the same, or worsened in this 15-year period in order to inform setting food policy goals for the next 5, 10 or 15 years.
From 2013 to 2015, the number of traditional supermarkets in New York City increased nearly 10%. However, since 2015 there has been a net loss of 16 stores: 10 former A&P, 3 D’Agostinos, and 3 Associated & Key Food.
This citywide trend masks the devastating effects of the loss of an individual supermarket -- to workers who lose their jobs and to communities already lacking quality food retail outlets. For some vulnerable residents who may not be in a position to shop at more distant, more affordable or familiar locations, supermarket closings may reduce access to healthy affordable food.