New York, New York (May 14, 2014) – Council Members Brad Lander and Ben Kallos today introduced Int 0329-2014, a bill to create a 17-member New York City Food Policy Council to tackle the most pressing food policy issues. The NYC Food Policy Council will apply grassroots organizing know-how and expertise to issues such as rising obesity rates, reforming the school lunch system, and bringing locally-grown, sustainable food to New York City. 1.4 million New Yorkers struggle with hunger, according to the New York City Coalition Against Hunger. More than half of adult New Yorkers are overweight or obese. According to the Food Empowerment Project, an estimated 750,000 New York City residents live in food deserts.
The NYC Food Policy Council, with appointments from the Mayor, the Speaker and the Public Advocate, and Borough Presidents would have formal powers, including:
- Produce an annual analysis of food systems in the city;
- Provide advice on food-related federal, state, and local legislation, regulations, budget proposals, spending plans and programs;
- Conduct policy research and gather data;
- Make recommendations on food related pilot programs;
- Produce an annual analysis of food systems in the city; and
- Convene issue-focused working groups.
Successful Food Policy Councils across the United States include:
- Los Angeles, where the Food Policy Council initiated a program to bring fresh produce to markets in South L.A. food deserts;
- Knoxville, where the Food Policy Council led to the expansion of public transit to improve access to grocery stores; and
- New Orleans, which helped create the Fresh Food Retailer Initiative, a program to provide low-interest loans to retailers who sell fresh produce in low-income areas.
“Hunger, obesity and poor nutrition are our enemies, and a piecemeal government approach won’t tackle them sustainably. We must invest in a holistic approach by empowering experts and advocates to create innovative solutions to hunger, obesity, and lack of access to local, healthy and environmentally responsible food,” said Kallos.
“I am very excited to join Councilmember Kallos today in introducing a bill to create a food policy council for New York City. In recent years we have seen a tremendous amount of grassroots activism towards the goal of ensuring that all New Yorkers gain secure access to healthy, sustainable, affordable food options. The creation of this council will give these dedicated activists a greater voice in food policy issues Citywide,” said Council Member Lander.
"So many New Yorkers are struggling with hunger and lack the means to afford quality and nutritious meals in the city. An Office of Food Policy is in lockstep with the City’s goals to create good policies that serve to promote access to healthy food, focus on food sustainability and better align our limited resources. Whether securing food for our neediest residents or providing healthy food to our youngest, working in concert and with one vision is an integral step that will benefit our city," said Public Advocate Letitia James.
Joel Berg, Executive Director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger said, “Food policy councils nationwide have played important roles in fighting hunger, improving nutrition, and aiding regional farmers. We thank Council Member Kallos for introducing a bill that will advance the City’s discussion of how to create a local food council that best meets the needs of New Yorkers.”