Two new reports by The Lancet, the British medical journal, provide important insights into deeper thinking on how to solve some of the most pressing global nutrition and food problems.
The past year reminds us once again that, every step forward can be accompanied by steps backward which forced us to often take food policy “victories” with a grain of salt. To help Food Policy Monitor readers take stock of the past year, we identify our staff choices for the Top 10 positive and negative food events in 2018, defined as events that had an important impact on urban food environments in New York City or elsewhere.
In the days of vinyl, songs on the b-side got little air play and never made the charts, even though they often were as good as – or sometimes better than -- the hits. As we reviewed New York City’s 2018 Food Metrics Report, released in December by the Mayor’s Office of Food Policy, we identified a number of “b-side food metrics” that would enrich our understanding of the food system. Yet these are rarely given proper air time, and as a result are often overlooked by advocates. Because these already collected and public data are sometimes hard to find, not aggregated and organized as food metrics, , they remain hidden in plain sight. In the examples that follow, we illustrate the value of these data sources in answering important policy questions for each of the Food Metrics Report’s four topical areas.
On December 4th 2018, the Washington, D.C. City Council voted to confirm the city’s commitment towards implementing the Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP) for the city’s public schools. The measure passed as part of a larger bill, B22-313 The Healthy Students Amendment Act, which intends to further student health and wellness. Getting the city’s commitment to the GFPP is the result of a yearlong campaign by a diverse coalition of community groups, labor unions, parents, local business leaders, D.C. Food and Nutrition Services and others advocating for access to healthy, high-quality meals for the city’s 48,000 students.
In preparation for our December 18th Urban Food Policy Forum on Growing Good Food Jobs in NYC we asked some of the city’s most prominent good food jobs champions to weigh in on two critical questions: (1) What one thing could elected officials (e.g. mayor, governor, council members, etc.) do in next year to promote good food jobs? and (2) What's the biggest obstacle to increasing the number of good food jobs in NYC and how does your organization/company address this obstacle? Here is what they shared.
Shifting Urban Agriculture Landscapes
The landscape of urban agriculture – the growing of food and non-food products and the raising of livestock in and around cities— is ever-growing throughout cities of the Global North. This, despite the fact that it has often been disregarded as legitimate use of urban space, or as legitimate agriculture (Smit et al. 1996). In the last two decades, longstanding practices of urban gardening (including home-, allotment-, community-gardens, as well as gardens at schools, hospitals, and other institutions) have been joined by not-for-profit initiatives such as community farms, in the U.S. context, or jardins d’insertion that provide opportunities for social and workforce inclusion in the French context. These relatively recent iterations of urban agriculture in Global North cities, including New York and Paris, where we respectively live and work, often are focused on increasing food access and/or providing job training in low income communities (cf., Cohen et al. 2012, Simon-Rojo et al. 2016).
The CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute along with 68 other organizations – including Natural Resources Defense Council, Community Food Advocates, DC Greens, Food and Water Watch, Friends of the Earth, Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy, Oxfam America, and Real Food Challenge – signed on a letter asking Aramark and Sodexo – two of the world's largest multinational food service corporations supplying food to institutions like hospitals, universities, and school districts in the US and globally – to cut their purchases of climate intensive foods and increase purchases of plants.
On November 28th, the City of Milan (Italy) together with the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition Foundation (BCFNF) released a new report on the role of cities in advancing the SDGs. The report titled FOOD & CITIES: The Role of Cities for Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals offers a comprehensive account of most recent urban food policy research and practice around the world and includes a dedicated section on seven exemplary case studies: Milan, New York, Ouagadougou, Rio de Janeiro, Seoul, Sydney, and Tel Aviv-Yafo. Institute staff contributed with the chapter on New York City examining how the City’s last ten years of food policy have helped advanced the two global frameworks for sustainable development and urban food systems – the UN SDGs and the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP). BCFNF is a multidisciplinary think tank focused on the economic, scientific, social and environmental factors that shape agri-food systems and the advancement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through food.
Karen is the Director of Policy and Program Operations at Food Policy Action and is interviewed here in advance of our next Forum, where she is the Keynote Speaker.