Getting Food on the Table: The Mayoral Forum on the Future of Food in NYC

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“This is the first example I’ve seen of real political clout in the food movement,” said author and NYU professor Marion Nestle to an audience of over 750 New Yorkers who packed the Mayoral Forum on the Future of Food in New York City, co-hosted by Just Food on July 17th at The New School.

“I think the most important feature of this event is the event,” she continued. “The food movement has gotten to the point where the candidates have to listen to it. And they have to be concerned about the issues that we’re concerned about: hunger, governance, getting food to hungry people, getting healthier food to everybody.  And that, it seems to me, is just an extraordinary achievement.”

As forum moderator, Nestle expressed the palpable electricity crackling through the room. Just Food was one of 12 organizations** who came together to plan the first ever Mayoral Forum completely devoted to food systems issues. Six candidates participated and it was the first opportunity to hear their positions on important topics including urban agriculture, healthy food access, labor rights, hunger, school food, farm-to-city, and food governance.

Both the candidates’ willingness to participate in the forum and their ability to speak about subjects like healthy food access and local food sourcing illustrated the growth and power the food movement has experienced in just a short time. Issues that Just Food has been working on for years, such as expanding support for urban agriculture and increasing access to SNAP and Farmers’ Market Nutrition benefits, are on the candidates’ radar. A summary of the candidates’ responses can be found hereFile 1440

As #NYCFoodForum trended nationally on Twitter and an additional 1,300+ people tuned in via livestream, Nestle reminded participants of the influence New York City policies have had on cities nationwide. “What happens next? How do we build on this? How do we … make serious political change in New York and the world? I think we have an enormous opportunity here.”

Just Food distributed its policy priorities at the forum, which includes concrete steps for the next administration. Just Food is excited and optimistic about collaborating with forum co-hosts and other like-minded organizations to ensure that food stays front and center on the next mayor’s agenda. Stay tuned for updates in our newsletter and website here.

If you missed the forum or would like to listen to it again, click here:

** The 12 organizations that co-hosted the Forum are: Brooklyn Food Coalition, City Harvest, Food Bank For New York City, Food Chain Workers Alliance, Food Studies program at The New School for Public Engagement, Food Systems Network NYC, Hunger Action Network NYS, Just Food, New York City Coalition Against Hunger, New York City Food Policy Center at Hunter College, NRDC Action Fund, and Public Health Solutions