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Quinn Launches Impressive FoodWorks…Now What?

November 24, 2010

Christine Quinn can fill a room, even on a Monday morning. Amongst what must have been hundreds of eager attendees in the auditorium of Food and Finance High, the NYC Council speaker introduced her 75+ page report proposing the ambitious measures her team views as necessary to improve and sustain the health of our city’s food systems. Compiled with assistance from major city food players like Joel Berg and Ruth Katz, FoodWorks: A Vision to Improve NYC’s Food System might be the first federal document of its kind, taking a comprehensive approach that tackles current food issues from the seed in the soil to the compost collection sites (now in all five boroughs!) and everywhere in between. FoodWorks also attempts to look forward, designed to accommodate the city’s future instead of finding its measures outdated quickly following implementation (Quinn claims this is what happened to Hunts Point Market in the Bronx and refuses to repeat the same mistake—whether this sort of foresight is wholly possible is up for debate).


The report seems to contain a mixture of the real and the hypothetical, containing information regarding legislation already implemented, proposals on the table that Quinn is confident will pass, as well as ideas for policy solutions whose chances of being drafted, proposed, and passed is anybody’s guess. Indeed more than one audience member interrupted Quinn’s speech to inquire into vague remarks or old promises not yet realized. Nevertheless, FoodWorks offers some unprecedented analysis and ideas regarding the prospects for our city’s food systems that deserve to be applauded. The report should serve as a tool for all food advocates—the suggestions are out there, now we need to start figuring out ways to get FoodWorks to, well, work.


No time right now to sort through the PDF yourself? The following presents just a few of the many “goals,” strategies,” and “proposals” put forth by each of the five main sections of the report:


Agricultural Production:

Goal: Increase urban food production

Strategy: Better use of existing space

Proposal: “The City Council will introduce legislation that requires the Administration to create a new searchable database of all city-owned and leased properties…[for] stakeholders seeking urban agricultural land.”


Goal: Generate growth and employment in the food manufacturing sector

Strategy: Make affordable space available

Proposal: Build a commercial kitchen incubator for start-ups; “…the City Council has invested in a commercial kitchen incubator at the La Marqueta building in East Harlem, which will be opening later this year.”


Goal: Improve food distribution in NYC through infrastructure enhancements, technological advancements, and alternative transportation, and integrated planning.

Strategy: Expand on the current vision for the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center to maximize potential

Proposal: Increase rail service thought the Hunts Point Distribution Center as “trucks consume more energy per unit transported and contribute to GHG emissions, road degradation, and traffic congestion…The city is pursuing federal transportation grants to help fund these improvements.”


Goal: Create a healthier food environment

Strategy: Expand fresh food retail in underserved areas of the city

Proposal: Aggressively market the FRESH program, which “provides financial benefits and zoning incentives to businesses that expand or create new grocery stores in targeted areas.”


Goal: Increase resource recapture in the food system

Strategy: Increase recycling of waste related to food processing and packaging

Proposal: Encourage restaurant grease recycling; “the City Council…recently passed legislation that requires heating oil sold in the city to contain at least two percent biofuel, which will broaden the market for recycled restaurant grease.”


For more information, and to read the full report, click here.


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