A new report by the NYC Food Policy Center at Hunter College analyzes the processes by which NYC sources and serves the 260 million meals and snacks served annually in schools, jails, and various social service programs. This “public plate” (c.f. Kevin Morgan) could provide better nutrition, help reduce food insecurity, create jobs, and support a more resilient and robust regional foodshed. Among the report’s policy recommendations are:
1. Strengthening the Office of the Food Policy Coordinator by providing more staff to monitor public food procurement and provision;
2. Updating food standards;
3. Improving data collection and reporting on the city’s compliance with existing nutrition standards and providing procurement information to better track how much is being spent to purchase food;
4. Expanding participation in federal child nutrition programs by using a federal option to provide school lunch free to all children in low-income neighborhoods, and by implementing breakfast in the classroom across the school system;
5. Advocating for improvements to and expansion of the Federal Child Nutrition programs scheduled for reauthorization in 2015;
6. Assessing the meals provided by various food vendors;
7. Scrutinizing the costs of prices obtained by contractors.
8. Involving those consumers of public food in menu planning and program delivery,;
9. Strengthening the capacity of foodservice workers;
10. Expanding procurement of local food by building menus around what is produced in the region rather than establishing menus and then searching for available local food;
11. Advancing food education;
12. Supporting mission-driven community based catering and food processing organizations; and
13. Identifying the need for new kitchen capacity to support an improved foodservice program.