Food Forward NYC: City Releases 10-Year Food Policy Plan

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Mayor’s Office of Food Policy (MOFP) announced today the release of the City’s first ever 10-Year Food Policy Plan, “Food Forward NYC,” a comprehensive framework for a more racially and economically equitable, sustainable and healthy food system for all New Yorkers that addresses the profound social, economic, health, and environmental challenges currently facing our city.

“When COVID-19 hit, I made a promise to ensure no New Yorker goes hungry due to the pandemic,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We quickly mobilized to create GetFoodNYC and have distributed more than 200 million meals to New Yorkers. This 10-Year Food Policy Plan builds on top of this emergency effort and centers racial and economic justice in our food system in the long term.”

“The City’s food system impacts the lives of each and every New Yorker. For New Yorkers to thrive, we must have a thriving food system. Our food system provides jobs to millions of our neighbors, builds community and strengthens relationships, affects our environment, and ensures culturally appropriate nourishment for us all. Food Forward NYC provides a comprehensive and visionary path forward to intentionally create a more equitable, inclusive food environment in the City,” said Kate MacKenzie, Director of Mayor’s Office of Food Policy. “This plan is long-term and wide-ranging, the City is partnering inside and outside of government to systematically improve our food system for all New Yorkers.”

“Food and food access is central to New Yorkers’ overall health and wellbeing, providing needed nutrition, creating opportunities for community building and cultural exchange, and importantly offering a vital source of economic opportunity” said Melanie Hartzog, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services. “With the pandemic revealing deep inequalities and socio-economic disparities across race, class, and neighborhood in New York City, there is no better time to release our roadmap and long-term vision for a stronger, more equitable food system.”

“Food Forward NYC lays out an ambitious interagency plan that makes food a major priority for City agencies,” said Laura Anglin, Deputy Mayor for Operations. “The plan provides a strategic framework for building back an even stronger food system. The strategies and actions outlined in Food Forward NYC reflect the sophisticated understanding City agencies developed about the food system over the last few months of the COVID-19 crisis.”

“Securing New York City’s food system is foundational to ensuring our economic vitality,” said Vicki Been, Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development. “Food Forward NYC fortifies our food system by further embedding it into infrastructure connections, the local economy, and the larger metro region. The plan is a first step in creating a more equitable, sustainable, and healthful food system by 2030.”

“As New York City continues to find ways to meet our immediate food security needs that the COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated, we must also be focused on long term solutions for equity and accessibility in our citywide food systems, said J. Phillip Thompson, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives. “Food Forward NYC,” the City’s first ever 10-year food policy plan, lays out a blueprint inspired by our highest aspirations for all New Yorkers in the future to have the access to healthy and affordable food so badly needed, and for a food economy that priorities good jobs and economic democracy in the food sector.”

As the city faces unprecedented levels of food insecurity, there is no more important time than now to lay out the roadmap to building back an even better food system. Over the course of the pandemic, MOFP has demonstrated — through initiatives with City agencies, elected officials, community-based organizations, and other partners—what working together to create a better food system looks like. As the City distributes the 200 millionth meal through the GetFoodNYC emergency relief program, we now have a much deeper understanding of the unique issues facing our food system and we have used these lessons learned to inform Forward Food NYC.

Food Forward NYC emphasizes the importance of choice – enabling a food system where everyone should be able to access the food they want wherever they may want it. To enable this choice, we need to support both our food workers and our food businesses. To strengthen the sustainability and resiliency of our food system, we need to rethink our food infrastructure and deepen our connections with the region.

Food Forward NYC is organized around five overarching goals:

  1. All New Yorkers have multiple ways to access healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate food.
  2. New York City’s food economy drives economic opportunity and provides good jobs.
  3. The supply chains that feed New York City are modern, efficient, and resilient.
  4. New York City’s food is produced, distributed, and disposed of sustainably.
  5. Support the systems and knowledge to implement the 10-year food policy plan.

The full report is available here.

The plan recognizes some of our most promising strategies fall outside of the purview of city government, and calls on the City’s partners to work together on shared goals for building a strong food system. The plan follows months of engagement with hundreds of New Yorkers across all sectors of the food system. In the coming months, the MOFP will continue the conversation with residents, community-based organizations and civic leaders, academic and health institutions, private for-profit and philanthropic partners, and elected officials to refine our strategies and develop shared metrics of success.

“When I launched Growing Food Equity in New York City in 2019, establishing a multi-year food plan was a key part of our legislative agenda to tackle racial, economic, and environmental inequity in our food system. The pandemic has only further demonstrated the need for coordinated, long-term planning and action to eliminate the disparities that persists among New Yorkers’ food options, quality and adequacy of food, and access to growing land and green spaces. The Council looks forward to working with all stakeholders to ensure this vital tool leads to a more fair, resilient and sustainable food system,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

“Access to affordable, quality food and nutrition is a fundamental human right and one that must serve at the crux of New York City’s economy as we work to build back stronger than ever,” said Congressman Adriano Espaillat. “Through Food Forward NYC, Mayor de Blasio has put forward an ambitious plan to ensure residents have access to healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate food – and as nearly one in five New Yorkers are facing food insecurity today at the hands of this harrowing pandemic, this is more important now than ever before. Food Forward NYC will help bolster our supply chains, foster economic opportunity, and generate good-paying jobs for families throughout our communities.”

“A forward-thinking ten-year plan couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Access to fresh food for food-insecure New Yorkers is the most pressing nutrition issue facing the city today. And buying food from local producers helps strengthen supply chains, employs other New Yorkers, and encourages more local producers to start up. I’m ready to work with the administration to make this vision a reality.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic revealed deep inequities within our city, leaving many New Yorkers food insecure. Queens families have been tremendously impacted, and more than ever, we need to ensure our borough’s neediest are being taken care of. Food pantries, community-based organizations and city resources have been lifelines for hungry residents. Food Forward NYC provides the framework in narrowing the inequity and will deliver food justice in years to come,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards.

“Prior to the pandemic, many New Yorkers suffered from food insecurity. COVID-19 has exacerbated this and has shown its impact will be felt for a long time,” said Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “Food Forward NYC’s 10-year food policy will lead to some sense of solace to many New Yorkers who day-in and day-out rely on Government to access healthy food for themselves and their families.”

“I applaud the release of this ten-year Food Forward NYC plan and look forward to working with local, state and federal partners to bring about sustainable, near and long-term food security in our city”, said Senator Roxanne J. Persaud, Chair of the NYS Senate Social Services Committee. “The economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic has left many New Yorkers seeking assistance for assistance for the very first time while further straining communities with pre-existing poverty and food insecurity”.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has showed us where our city can improve on government-funded infrastructure for food distribution, and I am happy to see the first priority is ensuring all New Yorkers have multiple ways to access healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate food. I am hopeful that this policy plan will use all resources available to our city to address food insecurity, including our local community-based organizations and senior centers.” said Council Member Margaret Chin.

“As the City of New York continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, I want to commend Mayor Bill de Blasio and The Mayor’s Office of Food Policy for Food Forward NYC, a 10-year plan that is designed to create a more equitable food system for the millions of New Yorkers facing food insecurity,” said Council Member Mathieu Eugene. “No one should go hungry in New York City, especially during a public health crisis, and we must continue to dedicate resources so that those who need food assistance are able to receive it. I have been honored to partner with local organizations to distribute free food to the community during the pandemic, and I am most appreciative to all those who have been a part of this widescale effort. I am confident that by working together we will be able to create a system that ensures long term sustainable food assistance is available for all those who need it.”

“Over 1 million New Yorkers are food insecure in our city, and that number will continue to grow without immediate action. This ten year food plan is a comprehensive approach to combating food insecurity by supporting our food providers on the front lines ensuring New Yorkers have access to healthy, quality, nutritious food during the pandemic, and establishing concrete action to reduce food scarcity and food waste. Our approach to eliminating hunger should be similar to our response to any other crisis and will require us to work together to combat this issue. I am proud to have introduced this legislation last year in the City Council and look forward to working with the administration and the Mayor’s Office of Food Policy in ensuring its implementation,” said Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson.

“Thinking long term about addressing food insecurity is absolutely vital,” said Council Member Barry S. Grodenchik. “I was outspoken on this issue before the pandemic, and the need for food to be available to every New Yorker does not disappear as vaccine injections take place. One New Yorker going hungry is one person too many.”

“This comprehensive plan is a necessary step in making sure that all New Yorkers have access to healthy, nutritious food and that every aspect of food production and distribution is managed in responsible and efficient ways,” said Council Member Robert Holden. “There’s no reason for anyone to go hungry in the Big Apple.”

“Food Forward NYC is exactly what New York City needs right now and going forward. Covid-19 brought to light and worsened the food insecurity that still plagues many communities in our City, and we have to fix that,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Too many New Yorkers still face food insecurity including, seniors and children. By putting forward a 10-year plan with actual goals as a City we will be able to achieve healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate food, that comes to us via a modern, efficient supply chain so we can then use it to drive economic opportunity and provides good-paying jobs. That is a worthwhile and achievable goal. Thank you to Mayor De Blasio for putting this plan together and making it a focus.”

“It is important that any recovery reflects the lessons learned by this public health and economic crisis. This is especially true in our food systems. Food Forward NYC will bring a long term focus and allow us to build the stronger, more sustainable, more just food system New Yorkers need and deserve,” said Council Member Stephen Levin.

“In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, we recognized the depth of the food insecurity crisis and its disproportionate impact on Black and Brown communities. There are New York City families who face hunger and diet-related illnesses because they lack access to fresh, nutritious, and affordable food. From farms to street vendors and supermarkets, the food infrastructure is powered by essential workers who deserve to earn a living wage, not at risk of poverty. Food Forward NYC is a roadmap to racial, food, and economic justice for historically marginalized communities,” said Council Member Farah N. Louis.

“I am happy to support Food Forward NYC that will assist food insecure New Yorkers. Healthy meals will become more accessible to vulnerable children, adults, and seniors alike. This 10-year food policy plan is a commitment to help better serve New Yorkers in need,” said Council Member Alan Maisel.

“We need urgency in reducing the racial disparities in food security especially given the devastating impact of COVID-19 on communities of color and neighborhoods at the epicenter of the pandemic. A food system that supports food businesses and workers, and ensures that as many New Yorkers have food on the table is critical as we work towards recovery. I look forward to continuing to partner with the Mayor’s Office of Food policy for a more equitable food system,” said Council Member Francisco Moya.

“COVID-19 has demonstrated deep inequities in our city and the need to strengthen our social safety net. A long-term plan to address food insecurity that impacts millions of New Yorkers is critical. Thank you to the Mayor for working to address this crisis,” said Council Member Keith Powers.

“We are pleased to see Mayor de Blasio and the Mayor’s Office of Food Policy setting a bold 10-year food plan. Food workers have been on the front-lines of the pandemic, yet often are not treated as if they are essential. We support the City’s effort under Goal 2 to use its purchasing power to ensure that no vendors violate their workers’ rights, and to push for deeper levels of transparency, accountability, and job standards in our food system. We are excited to work with the City on these efforts and we believe that together we can improve working conditions for all of New York City’s food workers,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU).

“We appreciate the Mayor’s Office of Food Policy’s dedication to working with community partners from across the food system to develop NYC’s first ever 10 Year Food Policy Plan. We are pleased to see some of the key recommendations stemming from this community engagement process in the Plan, especially the inclusion of a racial equity framework and commitment to investing in community driven food sovereignty initiatives,” said Gabrielle Blavatsky, Policy Director of Equity Advocates. “We look forward to working in partnership with the MOFP and the greater community of food advocates to implement this plan.”

“Recognizing the central role of food in our lives and our city, the 10 year food plan helps chart a path to better harness our food system towards a healthy, equitable, sustainable, and resilient New York,” said Margaret Brown, Senior Attorney at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “By investing in solutions that reach the root injustices of our food system, we can build a food system that improves our health, builds wealth in low income communities and communities of color, combats the climate crisis, and better prepares us for unseen challenges ahead.”

“Our organization aims to strategically reduce racial gaps in wealth and health in Central Brooklyn,” said Tracey Capers, EVP and Chief Program Officer at Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. “We need to make substantive changes in the entire food supply chain, from seed to plate, to ensure that low-income communities of color not only have access to high quality, affordable and healthy food, but also that our communities are in control of and benefit economically from the food system. We have been partnering with +100 community stakeholders for close to a decade to build capacity, advocate and plan for the practices, policies and resources that would lead to a local, community operated food system, including an investment in a Central Brooklyn Food Hub. We are hopeful that the City of New York and the Mayor’s Office for Food Policy’s 10 Year Food Plan will contribute to the realization of this vision.”

“The National Supermarket Association is glad to see Mayor de Blasio implementing a long-term plan to address some of the major food policy issues facing New York City. This robust plan will go a long way to ensuring that all New Yorkers have access to fresh, healthy food at an affordable price and ensuring that the industry will continue to provide excellent employment opportunities to those who want to work. It is critical to support minority and Independently-owned supermarkets in this effort and we look forward to partnering with the administration on this plan,” said Nelson Eusebio, Director of Government Relation, the National Supermarket Association.

“New York City’s 10 Year Food Plan is an important step forward in creating a city food system that supports health, fair, sustainable community and regional economic development, and more equitable access to healthy affordable food,” said Nicholas Freudenberg, Distinguished Professor of Public Health and Director, CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute. “The plan also provides a platform on which all New Yorkers can contribute to monitoring progress towards shared goals and participate in shaping fair food policies.”

“New York City is taking a bold step in releasing its first 10-year food policy plan, one that sets a comprehensive vision for what it means to connect our present-day realities with the necessity of transforming the paradigm within which our food system exists. I am also incredibly thrilled to see further commitments being made to continuing to implement the Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP) here in NYC, the first procurement model in the country to support Local Economies, Nutrition, Animal Welfare, Environmental Sustainability, and a Valued Workforce in equal measure. I am equally proud of the years-long work that the NYC Good Food Purchasing Program Coalition has done to support the implementation of GFPP, and we look forward to continuing to work closely with the City to ensure the longevity of the Program and to guarantee that the values of our City’s communities directly inform our public food procurement processes,” said Ribka Getachew, Director of the NYC Good Food Purchasing Program Campaign Community Food Advocates

“Now, because of the pandemic, there’s no looking away from the fact that millions of New Yorkers don’t have enough to eat. The fight against hunger in New York City cannot be won alone,” said Leslie Gordon, President and CEO of Food Bank For New York City. “We look forward to partnering with the Mayor’s Office, and others from the public and private sector, to provide food to all of our neighbors in need so they have nourishment for today, and access to fundamental resources to reduce the number of people who will require food assistance tomorrow.”

“New York City’s Ten Year Food Plan is an important step on the path to a healthier, more fair food system. We look forward to working with the City to ensure that moving forward, food is affordable, nutritious, and accessible for all New Yorkers; a true source of income for workers and business owners; and sustainably handled across the food chain,” said Dr. Pamela Koch, Executive Director, Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy

“As the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout continue, the food insecurity crisis is affecting more New York families than ever. It will take a whole-of-city approach to tackle this crisis – with government, civil society, and community groups working together to center racial equity and food equity. With more than 2.5 million working-age New Yorkers struggling to make ends meet even before the pandemic, the Mayor’s Office tackling of this vital issue is timely and important. We look forward to working in partnership to help feed New Yorkers in need,” said Jilly Stephens, Chief Executive Officer, City Harvest.

About the Mayor’s Office of Food Policy

The Mayor’s Office of Food Policy was created through Executive Order in 2008 and has worked since inception to elevate and advance the City’s food policy agenda; increasing food security, promoting access to and consumption of healthy foods, and supporting economic opportunity and environmental sustainability in the food system. The Office places a critical facilitation role between City agencies and partners. Through this work, the Office has been a central partner in developing the NYC Food Standards, ensuring Universal Schools Breakfast and Lunch, and leading the annual Food Metrics Report. New York City’s advanced and innovative food policy work has become recognized nationally and internationally, including the Department of Education’s Meatless Mondays and elimination of processed meats. The City has advanced progressive food policy reform, expanding the number of farmers markets throughout the City, reducing allowable levels of sodium in meals provided by all City agencies, and expanding Universal Breakfast and Lunch for all New York City school children.