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.
By Morgan Ames, Tracey Capers, Craig Willingham, Sarah Wolf, and Nick Freudenberg
Across New York City and the nation, low-income and working families with young children endeavor to raise strong, healthy children; maintain their family’s health; find and keep decent jobs and affordable housing; create safe communities; and claim a voice in shaping their neighborhoods. At the same time, within these communities, resilient families and children, skilled and experienced leaders, and many established civic organizations with a history of organizing to improve their neighborhoods have shown the power of local action to promote health, equity and community development.
by Nevin Cohen, Research Director, CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute
A decade ago, New York City set out to improve access to healthy food in neighborhoods with insufficient full-service grocery stores. The resulting Food Retail Expansion to Support Health (FRESH) program, adopted in 2009, was modeled after the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing initiative and mirrored similar efforts in cities, states, and the federal government. FRESH eased zoning requirements for supermarket development and offered financial benefits to encourage supermarket operators to open and expand stores in designated FRESH zones.
by Nevin Cohen, Research Director, CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute
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.
By Nevin Cohen, Nicholas Freudenberg, and Craig Willingham
A stronger, more integrated New York City and State regional foodshed offers many potential benefits: increased access to healthy affordable regionally grown food, creation of new good food jobs in agricultural and urban communities, better protection of farmland, more sustainable regional agriculture that slows climate change and new upstate/downstate partnerships that can constitute a political force for advocating alternatives to a corporate-dominated food system. In this policy brief, we examine lessons for New York City from the regional foodsheds that are developing in Chicago, Toronto and Cincinnati.
By Nevin Cohen, Nick Freudenberg, and Craig Willingham, CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute
In the last few years, NYCHA has attracted the attention of policy makers, developers, elected officials and activists seeking new ways to improve living conditions, enhance public safety, repair an aging infrastructure, encourage economic development and promote health in the city-within-a-city that New York’s public housing constitutes. In this policy brief, we consider another aspect of NYCHA: the food its residents buy, prepare and eat and the role food plays in the health, environment and economy of the city’s NYCHA population.
By Nevin Cohen, Research Director, CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute
It is tempting for New York City food advocates to focus on the many local policies under the purview of New York City government: improving school food; easing access to SNAP; or supporting urban farms and farmers markets. City agencies are responsible for the food system within the five boroughs, and city officials see a clear justification for policies that help New Yorkers.
By Anabel Perez-Jimenez and Nicholas Freudenberg, CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute
In the United States, a century of social reforms has yielded several national programs that help people avoid hunger and food insecurity. In 2015, the Supplemental Assistance Program (SNAP) provided benefits to more than 44 million low-income U.S. residents at a cost of about $70 billion; the Women, Infants and Children program (WIC) offered healthy food to about 6 million women and their young children at a cost of $6.2 billion; and USDA’s School Food served lunches to about 30.5 million school children and breakfasts to about 14 million at a total cost of about $17 billion. These food safety net programs, however imperfect in their scope or implementation, mitigate the effects of poverty and food insecurity, improve health and help the United States join the club of civilized nations that aspire to make access to the food needed for well-being the norm rather than a privilege.
Nevin Cohen, Research Director, CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute
In the past year various New York City policies and programs have helped to grow urban agriculture: The city’s housing agency preserved dozens of gardens slated for housing development, including designing four existing gardens into a new development project. Gardens in the Lower East Side are being retrofitted to help protect the community from flooding. The Housing Authority has created large farms on several developments to train youth, involve residents, and grow and distribute fresh produce. And entrepreneurs have come together to advocate support for the nascent commercial urban agriculture industry. This brief explains that these efforts not only align with food policies but they address broader city goals that extend beyond food production.
Nicholas Freudenberg, Chris Palmedo, Eleni Murphy and Sarah Garza for the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute
In the next decade, experts predict that diet-related diseases may overtake tobacco as the leading cause of premature death and preventable illness in New York City and around the world. Many factors have contributed to the rise of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other diet-related conditions. One reason is relentless marketing of unhealthy food by food and beverage companies. Each year, U.S. food companies spend more than $2 billion targeting children with ads, mostly for highly processed foods high in sugar, salt and unhealthy fats, the products most associated with diet-related diseases. As advocates explore solutions to this impending public health crisis, one strategy that shows promise is countermarketing.