Today CCC is celebrating Food Day, an annual event reminding people in New York and across the country to think about how better food policies can improve health and fight hunger. It’s a day to ask yourself what is – and what isn’t – on the plates of the 1 in 5 New York City children who lives in a home without enough food.
In honor of Food Day, and with these children in mind, we’ve put together (in no particular order) the above list of Five Key Ingredients in the Recipe to Fight Hunger for NYC’s Children.
Here’s why we believe each of these recommendations are critical to NYC’s efforts to fight hunger and food insecurity for children and families across the five boroughs:
- Expand Breakfast after the Bell programming and universal free school lunch to all grades and schools citywide – School Meals programs are critical resources in the fight against childhood hunger and obesity. Unfortunately, too many of New York City’s 1.1 million school children do not participate in school lunch, and even fewer participate in school breakfast. A number of these children choose not to eat school meals because they do not want others to label them “poor.” To help destigmatize school meals and ultimately improve participation, programs such as universal free school lunch and Breakfast After the Bell should be expanded to all schools and grades throughout the city.
- Increase the number of children who participate in Summer Meals – Every summer, hundreds of sites across New York City provide free meals to children ages 18 and under. To eat, children just have to show up – no ID is required. However, only a small portion of children and youth participate in this program daily. The City could improve participation by increasing efforts to let parents know about the program; identifying and advertising feeding site locations well before the school year ends; and implementing in-classroom meal distribution for summer school students.
- Ensure that New Yorkers can use their SNAP & WIC benefits at as many food retailers as possible – Federal food programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or Food Stamps) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) help many New Yorkers feed their families. Thankfully, these programs are used in supermarkets, bodegas, and farmers’ markets all over the city. There is, however, still room for growth. More retailers – ranging from large grocers to small bodega owners, Green Cart vendors, and farmers’ market operators – should be supported in their efforts to accept all federal food programs and stock healthy, affordable foods.
- Build on innovative ways to get people to food and food to people – Despite efforts being made to bring affordable food into underserved neighborhoods, far too many New Yorkers continue to lack convenient access to high quality food at affordable prices. We should continue to leverage and expand the City’s Food Retail Expansion to Support Health (FRESH) program to bring food retailers into underserved communities, as well as explore the benefits of mobile markets that bring food into underserved neighborhoods and shuttle services that transport area residents to healthy, affordable food retailers.
- Increase funding for emergency food providers (EFPs) – EFPs are soup kitchens and food pantries. As a result of the recession, Hurricane Sandy, and recent federal cuts to SNAP, EFPs have seen an increase in the demand for their services. Quite simply the demands of 1.4 million New Yorkers who seek help from EFPs, far outstrips the supply of food available and more funding is needed to feed the hungry in NYC.
We hope these ideas have given you something to “chew” on this Food Day. Help us to raise awareness about these priorities by sharing this blog on Facebook and Twitter. And continue to check back here for future CCC reports, testimonies, and opportunities to take action in the fight against hunger and food insecurity for all of New York City’s children.