Did you know that 750,000 New Yorkers live in “food deserts,” without adequate access to healthy food options? Or that one quarter of the residents of Harlem and the South Bronx are obese? How about the fact that one if four children in New York City are hungry? Or that, on average, boedgas charge between 13% and 76% more for food than supermarkets?

These were just some of the issues addressed at this morning’s conference, The Politics of Food: New York’s Next Policy Challenge, hosted by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer at Columbia University. Speakers included United Nations General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Center for Social Inclusion Director Maya Wiley. Participants then broke up into seven issue groups to discuss the future of food policy in the City.

Among the ideas floated in the group dedicated to “Finding Healthy Food” were:

  • using zoning incentives to encourage developers to locate supermarkets in their buildings
  • including impact on food access in environmental review of new developments
  • expanding the use of programs such as WIC and food stamps at greenmarkets
  • encouraging community involvement in the creation of requests for proposals for new development.

Stringer’s staff will review the results of today’s conference as they move forward with policy recommendations to address the City’s food needs. What are some of your ideas about how to promote and encourage access to fresh, healthy food options?