NY Food Procurement Policy Debated in City Council

by Nevin Cohen
March 2, 2011
*Any opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not constitute the opinions of the Food Systems Network NYC.

The New York City Council’s Committee on Contracts held a hearing on February 28th to discuss two measures designed to increase city procurement of local and regionally produced food.

The first is a local bill (Introduction No. 452) to require the city chief procurement officer to encourage city agencies to make best efforts to purchase New York State food, defined as food grown, produced, harvested, or processed in New York. The bill refers only to New York food because New York State authorizes cities to preferentially procure food produced within the state’s boundaries.

Int. No. 452 requires the city’s chief procurement officer to develop and publish procurement guidelines for agencies to help them buy New York State food, train agency contracting personnel, monitor agency procurement activities, and submit an annual report to the Speaker of the Council detailing each agency’s efforts and the overall quantity and dollar amount of New York State food that each agency procured. The bill prohibits the city from spending more on New York State food than on its current purchases.

The Great Soda Debate in New York City

by Jason Machowsky, MS, RD and Viktoriya Syrov
November 3, 2010

Soda CansOn October 7, Mayor Michael R. Blooomberg and Governor David A. Paterson submitted a proposal to the USDA to ban the purchase of sugar-sweetened beverages with food stamps in New York City for a trial run of two years. The proposal ignited a major public debate: on one side, the public health advocates who support the reasoning behind the initiative, and, on the other, anti-hunger advocates who feel that limiting freedom of choice is not the answer to the obesity epidemic.

Rationale for the ban includes:

  • Sugar-sweetened beverages contain large amounts of sugar and are largely devoid of nutritional value
  • Compared to 1980, Americans are consuming 200 to 300 extra calories each day, half of which come from sugar-sweetened beverages. These extra calories have resulted in significantly increased obesity and Type 2 diabetes rates, particularly across low-income individuals.
  • The proposal reflects the USDA’s own approach to the National School Lunch, National School Breakfast and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) programs, which already include only healthier foods and exclude sugar-sweetened beverages.


USDA's First Ever Facebook Chat

Last Thursday, Food advocates, locavores and other interested participants from all over the country bubbled over with enthusiasm at the US Department of Agriculture’s first ever live Facebook chat.

The “Know Your Food, Know Your Farmer” team at the USDA hosted the interactive conversation which featured a streaming video question and answer format with Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Kathleen Merrigan.

For about a half an hour, Merrigan gave thoughtful answers to questions on topics that ranged from farm to institution to restaurant supported agriculture and beginner farmer programs to the importance of local and regional agriculture to build wealth in rural communities and connect urban dwellers (and children) to where their food comes from.

First FSNYC Policy Committee Meeting

posted by Nadia Johnson, Just Food, and Mo Kinberg, UFCW Local 1500
A major NYC food policy opportunity is coming up! The Manhattan Borough President's (MBP) initiative—The Politics of Food Conference—will be held on Wednesday, November 19th from 8:30am-2pm at Columbia University's Lerner Hall. Maya Wiley, UN General Assembly President Father Miguel D'Escoto, and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg are among the featured speakers. One of the goals of the Conference is to produce short and long-term policy solutions for NYC in the following areas:

The Politics of Food—A Conference on New York's Next Policy Challenge

Wednesday, November 19 8:30am-2:30pm

The Politics of Food—A Conference on New York's Next Policy Challenge
Lerner Hall, Columbia University

Sierra Club NYC: Factoring Sustainable Ag into Climate Change

Posted by Holly Emma, FSNYC Communications Committee

New York City is off to a great start on dealing with climate change through PlaNYC, but Sierra Club implores us to go further. The Sierra Club report, “Sustainable Energy Independence for New York City,” asks City officials to create a Task Force that will study potential local impacts and mitigations of energy volatility, and to require consideration of energy volatility in all City agency budgeting and planning decisions.
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