Fresher food coming to NYC

Fresher food coming to NYC

I hope you are hungry, because today is a good day for New Yorkers who care about their food. We’ve learned a lot recently about the importance of improving our food system, supporting regional farms and businesses, and making sure that everyone has access to fresh, healthy food. I wanted to share some recent developments that bring us closer to that goal.

New laws for City food purchasing

Yesterday, the City Council passed a series of bills that will support nearby farmers and help make our food a bit healthier, for our families and our environment. These new laws require the City to set an example in its food purchasing (our City government buys a lot of food):

  • Buy local (452-A): Agencies such as Parks and Recreation and the Police Department, will now prioritize food that is grown, harvested, or processed in our region – so we’ll support local farmers and businesses, and reduce long-range truck trips.
  • Reduce waste (461-A): This new law directs City officials to reduce the use of wasteful packaging for purchased food, so we’ll send less garbage to landfills.
  • Understand our impact (615-A): If we want to make our food healthier and more environmentally friendly over the long-term, we need to know how much we are eating, where our food comes from, and what are the associated impacts. Under this bill, the City will produce annual reports on food purchased by the City (including the Department of Education, the largest purchaser).
  • Call on Albany to do the same (627): This bill would urge the New York State Legislature to reform the State’s food purchasing guidelines and allow New York City to take further steps to support local farmers.

These reforms will help the environment and support our local economy – and just make good budget sense. I was pleased to be a co-sponsor these bills and applaud the efforts of Speaker Quinn, Councilmember Gale Brewer, and the rest of the Council in making them law.

Youth-run greenmarket in Kensington/Windsor Terrace

Here in the 39th District, we have also been working hard to make fresh, healthy food more accessible to all residents, including neighborhoods like Kensington, where residents petitioned for a greenmarket.  Earlier this month, I partnered with GrowNYC to bring a greenmarket run by high school students to Kensington/Windsor Terrace. On Saturdays, local students are selling fresh-off-the-farm fruits and vegetables that offer healthier and more affordable food options for our community.

Please support the efforts of these local teens. The Youthmarket will be open every Saturday through October 29th, from 9 AM to 3 PM, on Fort Hamilton Parkway between E. 4th and E. 5th (in front of the Windsor Terrace branch of the Brooklyn Public Library). I would like to thank those who have made the Youthmarket a success: our partners, GrowNYC and Family Cook Productions; the sponsors, Brancaccio's Food Shop, Brooklyn Commune, Food Town, New York Methodist Hospital, Sustainable Kensington/Windsor Terrace; our energetic volunteers, Veronica Guzman and Laura Duffy; and especially the young people themselves.

More gardens in our public schools

Over the past year we have worked to expand the conversation about bringing healthier food choices into our schools – including our “School Food Rocks” conference, where parents and school leaders discussed how to bring school gardens and healthier food to their schools. I was also proud to be able to direct funding this year for community organizers with the Brooklyn Food Coalition to expand the work of parents and teachers.These school food efforts are already paying off. Schools have added salad bars, strengthened nutrition programs, and expanded healthy meal options. And we just got the great news that six schools in our district won grants from GrowNYC for their school gardens: PS 29, PS 107, PS 154, PS 230, PS 321, and the John Jay High School Alternative Learning Center.The students at these schools have been getting their hands dirty, planting, watering, and harvesting food in their schoolyards. I am proud to see students, teachers, and parents at our schools providing an example of how school gardens can enrich the education and nutrition of our children.I’m glad that we are taking some good steps to follow their example.


P.S. Like many of you, I am still thinking about Leiby Kletzky, whose young life was tragically cut short earlier this month.  Last week, I paid a shiva visit the Kletzkys – whose courage in the face of heartbreak has been inspiring to me –  and shared some thoughts about the tragedy on our website.

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