food access

Grow NYC/Greenmarket - NEW 2011 EBT Report

GrowNYC's Greenmarket program, which operates 50+ farmers markets in NYC, has just released our report on EBT/Food stamps in the 2011 market season.
The report includes the history of our EBT program, best practices, other incentives and programs offered in our markets, and additional food access programs operated by GrowNYC. In 2011 EBT sales at Greenmarkets reached nearly $640,000, and we are thankful to many partners who helped make this happen!

Read the report and find additional resources for other market operators here!

Why the Food Movement Should Occupy Wall Street

by Siena Chrisman 

I went to the Occupy Wall Street march last week, as part of the NYC food justice delegation. We carried baskets of farmers market vegetables and signs reading "Stop Gambling on Hunger" and "Food Not Bonds." Food justice advocates came out from around the city -- urban farmers, gardeners, youth, professors, union members, and community organizers. The vegetables attracted a lot of attention. Food so often attracts a lot of attention -- The New York Times is just one of the outlets to focus in recent days on the makeshift kitchen at Zuccotti Park. What was more surprising were all of the puzzled looks we got from the bloggers, photographers, and other marchers who wanted to talk to us. "What's the connection here with food?" we were asked many times.

The connection of the protests with food, of course, runs from the local to the global, the specific to the ephemeral. Food justice advocates are connecting with Occupy sites all around the country to donate fresh, healthy, local food or to help find kitchen space. On a broader philosophical level, as Mark Bittman writes in the Times, "Whether we're talking about food, politics, health care, housing, the environment, or banking, the big question remains the same: How do we bring about fundamental change?" But there are also clear and specific reasons that all of us working for a just and fair food system, as the food movement should make the connection between our work and Occupy Wall Street explicit and strong.

A Community Supported Kitchen Grows in East Harlem

by Hans Bernier
July 5, 2011

Thursday, June 30th, marked the opening of the second season for the East Harlem Community Supported Kitchen (CSK). A CSK offers members healthy, tasty, home-style dinners and the social benefits of group meals at a convenient community location for a low-budget price. Prepared, served and eaten in a family-friendly environment, all dishes are made with high-quality ingredients according to traditional recipes. The event was held at Taller Boriqua a 40-year old, artist-run nonprofit art gallery and multidisciplinary cultural space in El Barrio.
Foraged GreensThe evening began with a foraging tour of easy-to-identify edible plants growing in lawns and parks around East Harlem. Emcee C.M., Master of None, a featured artist at Taller Boricua, led the group on a walk to Central Park, picking a number of greens right from the street, which were used to create a foraged salad served later that night. Disclaimers were given about not picking and eating plants without proper knowledge. The salad included sorrel, violet leaves, plantain leaves (not like the banana), dandelion, poor man’s pepper (taste like wasabi), garlic mustard, ladies thumb, lambs quarter, and cheeses (a green, not a cheese). It was truly a unique experience; much of the produce picked is often discarded as a weed. As someone who is new to the green movement in NYC it was amazing to see how resource-full our streets can be.

Food Detective: Getting Behind the Green Cart

by Stephanie Miller
June 3, 2011

Allerton Avenue in the Bronx is bustling on a warm weekday afternoon: honking traffic, pedestrians jockeying for sidewalk space, trains screeching overhead. In this setting, Miguel Cepeda appears surprisingly calm. The Green Cart vendor chats in Spanish and English with his regular customers, responds to friendly calls from passing motorists, and during quiet moments, sits under an umbrella with his friend and co-worker Luis Nuñez.

Miguel & Luis's CartNew York City’s Green Cart program was established in 2008 by the Mayor’s Office, with the financial support of the Tisch Illumination Fund, with the goal to bring fresh fruit and vegetables to low-income communities that have limited access to healthy food. From Miguel and Luis’s cart, the food options within view are a Kennedy Fried Chicken and Dunkin’ Donuts, accompanied by a McDonalds around the corner. A bodega and two other small markets are nearby, but Miguel’s customers complain that these stores are prohibitively expensive.

Like most vendors, Luis and Miguel source their produce from suppliers at the Hunt’s Point market, which is open 24-hours-a-day, five days a week. Both men learned how to negotiate the most competitive prices for the highest quality produce from Karp Resources, the Green Cart program’s technical and business support advisor. Miguel notes that their customers often express appreciation for the easy access the cart provides to everything from pineapples to cauliflower. Even though the vendors cannot always accommodate customers’ special requests because of space limitations, they work hard to satisfy the needs of their ethnically diverse shoppers. Miguel is working to secure his own cart later this summer to expand their business at this location.

The Great Soda Debate in New York City

by Jason Machowsky, MS, RD and Viktoriya Syrov
November 3, 2010

Soda CansOn October 7, Mayor Michael R. Blooomberg and Governor David A. Paterson submitted a proposal to the USDA to ban the purchase of sugar-sweetened beverages with food stamps in New York City for a trial run of two years. The proposal ignited a major public debate: on one side, the public health advocates who support the reasoning behind the initiative, and, on the other, anti-hunger advocates who feel that limiting freedom of choice is not the answer to the obesity epidemic.

Rationale for the ban includes:

  • Sugar-sweetened beverages contain large amounts of sugar and are largely devoid of nutritional value
  • Compared to 1980, Americans are consuming 200 to 300 extra calories each day, half of which come from sugar-sweetened beverages. These extra calories have resulted in significantly increased obesity and Type 2 diabetes rates, particularly across low-income individuals.
  • The proposal reflects the USDA’s own approach to the National School Lunch, National School Breakfast and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) programs, which already include only healthier foods and exclude sugar-sweetened beverages.


Mobile Farm Stands?

by Ed Yowell, Slow Food NYC

Jurrien Swartz’s day job is as a financial consultant to Credite Suisse.  His other job is that of CFO (Chief Farm Entrepreneur) of Holton Farms, which, as summer is upon us, is his other day job.  Holton Farms, the motto of which is “Good earth. Good eats,” is implementing a unique farm-to-city distribution model to serve two distinct New York City populations, CSA subscribers and food desert residents.

Holton Farms, in Bellow’s Falls, Vermont, near Westminster, has been in Jurrien’s family since the mid-1700s.  Until 2007, it was a conventional, specialty crop farm, selling produce to local supermarket chains.  In 2007, Jurrien and his cousin, Seth Holton, decided on an alternative business plan – one that would help get more fresh, regionally grown food into New York City.  

To meet the demands of New York City eaters, they  have developed relationships with other Vermont and New Hampshire farms and specialty producers (a Fair Trade coffee roaster, a creamery and a bakery) and are beginning to raise livestock (Black Angus beef cattle, chickens and turkeys now, pigs and sheep later).  They started turning Holton Farms organic in 2008 and are transitional now.  And, they have acquired a facility for aggregating produce prior to delivery to New York City.  They are ready for us now and their three-pronged distribution strategy is in play.  

Announcing the Food Environment Atlas

by Sara Grady, Glynwood
A new tool for food system research was launched by the USDA last month, called the Food Environment Atlas.

The interactive map offers state and county level information on a wide variety of food and environmental indicators related to health and well-being.

Users can create maps that show how a single indicator varies across the country, and can view the results for all indicators in a selected county. With the advanced query tool, users can identify counties with combinations of indicators (for example, counties with both high poverty and high obesity rates).

The goal is to allow researchers, policy makers, and the public to find information on a range of factors that affect our food environment. Indicators include statistics relating to food choices, health and well-being, and community characteristics.

According to Elise Golan at the USDA, one of the primary authors of the project, this initiative was a top-down request from the USDA Under Secretary in response to the First Lady’s working group (and her Let’s Move! campaign). Golan commented that the tool represents “an effort to illustrate relationships between the built environment and health, signifying recognition within the administration about the importance of the built environment in influencing food choices.”

No SNAP Judgements

by Kristin Pederson, FSNYC VISTA Member

Sunday’s New York Times carried a story stating that food stamp enrollment is at an all time high and increasing, helping to feed 1 in 8 Americans and 1 in 4 children.  It is wonderful that food stamps, now actually called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), are having such an important impact in the aggregate.  But I have learned through my own experience that each individual’s journey to receiving assistance is idiosyncratic in spite of the bureaucracy surrounding the process.

Parts of that bureaucracy can be dehumanizing.  Arriving mid-morning at the Williamsburg, Brooklyn Food Stamp Center, I joined an outdoor line reaching down the block.  As the line inside was processed, we moved through the doors in groups of five or so, strictly managed by security guards who stood watch every few feet against line jumping and disorder.  Once indoors, it was possible to hear the shouted announcement, made every few minutes, that the building was literally at its capacity, so anyone without business there had to leave.  This meant no friends to look after babies as mothers filled in forms, and elderly wives unaccompanied by their husbands.

Youth Bucks - A Proven Tool Empowers the Next Generation of Localvores

Meka and greensby Lynn Fredericks, Family Cook Productions

Youngsters at Harlem’s Central Park East School Il brought home a very different type of homework assignment last month thanks to a strategic partnership among the school’s Wellness Initiative, the Manhattan Borough President’s office and the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene.  

Students in grades K-2 were asked to develop a shopping list to make a vegetable soup in their classroom. The students’ individual lists were developed into a master shopping list, and off the class went to their local farmers’ market. There, each child was handed a “Youth Buck” coupon worth $2 for redemption of fresh produce at the market. According to the school principal, Naomi Smith, each student made a purchase that would contribute to their soup.  “They all participated in the planning, shopping and cooking  - it was a very meaningful experience that got them excited about eating vegetables,” she confirmed.

The FRESH Program and Community Boards

by Kristin Pederson 

The City Planning Commission unanimously approved the Food Retail Expansion to Support Health (FRESH ) on September 23, 2009. By doing so, the way was cleared for the City Council to vote on the program, which it must do by November 24th.


Before the City Planning Commission could make its decision, the proposal was reviewed in several venues. Since May 18th community boards, borough boards, and the borough presidents have had the opportunity to comment. Additionally, there was a public hearing on August 5th.


Community boards in particular, within such workings of local government, are the topic of the October FSNYC Open Networking meeting. Each borough is divided into community boards, each consisting of 50 members and staffed by a district manager. Throughout the City there are 59 boards, who are given an advisory role in land use and zoning changes, the City budget, municipal service delivery, and other matters of community importance. In fact, any issue that can arise within the community is supposed to be covered by one of the sub-committees of the board.


Board members are appointed by borough presidents, with the advice of City Council members from the board area. They are limited to roles of advocacy and coordination, but are held to represent the best interest of their communities.



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