“Each year, ten New York City agencies serve an estimated 260 million meals, making the City one of the largest meal providers in the world. With the rising prevalence of diet-related disease and mounting evidence of the crucial role of nutrition in determining health, interest has escalated in what urban planner Kevin Morgan has called “the public plate” as a lever for improvement of public health. Others have noted that the sourcing of food for the public plate can support local and regional agriculture. At the same time, environmentalists have raised concerns about the handling of waste from meals, and about the carbon footprint and other environmental implications of urban food procurement practices. Institutional meals are an important defense against hunger, a problem that continues to disrupt the lives and health of too many New Yorkers. Thus institutional food is at the intersection of health, economic development, environmental protection, and social justice.”¹
The new report, by the New York City Food Policy Center at Hunter College and the City University of New York School of Public Health, seeks to provide policy makers and advocates with the information they need to make decisions that will further strengthen New York City’s already robust institutional meals programs. To do so, the interdisciplinary working group analyzed the basic parameters of meal provision in public schools, child care and senior citizen programs, homeless shelters, jails, hospitals, and other settings. It then identified challenges, highlighted emerging solutions and provided recommendations for how the City of New York can continue to improve the nutritional quality and economic and environmental impact of the meals served not just in the ten agencies studied but for all New Yorkers.
The report explores the complex mix of institutional meals served by the City of New York. In the last seven years, since the establishment of the Office of the Food Policy Coordinator, NYC has made substantial progress in improving its institutional food programs and weaving them into a system that can achieve health, economic, environmental and social justice goals. The report highlights how the market power the city’s institutional food provides can make healthier food more affordable and available to all New Yorkers, as well as providing opportunities for job creation and economic growth. A great example to learn from!
The full report, executive summary and supplement are available here.
More information on the New York City Food Policy Council here.
¹Public Plate Report Working Group. The Public Plate in New York City: A Guide to Institutional Meals.New York City Food Policy Center at Hunter College, 2014.