Mayor Unveils Plan for Improving Food Education in NYC Schools
Mayor Eric Adams unveiled a plan today for improving food education in NYC schools and school communities.
Dubbed, “Prioritizing Food Education in Our Public Schools: A Path to Developing a Healthy Next Generation,” the plan — or roadmap, as the mayor calls it — identifies specific goals, strategies and key performance indicators that will ensure students across the city learn healthy eating habits and how each component of food systems interact with the climate, economy and local community.
“New York City is leading the way in healthy food, eating, and lifestyles — and I am proud to announce the next step in our journey: New York City’s first-ever food education roadmap,” Adams said. “I know the power of healthy eating firsthand: Switching to a plant-based diet reversed the effects of my type 2 diabetes and saved my eyesight. With this roadmap, we’re going to teach our children how to eat better — building healthier schools, healthier communities, and a healthier city for all New Yorkers.”
Improving Food Education in NYC Schools
The plan highlights the importance of food education in building lifelong healthy habits and helping students become better learners, according to a press release. Healthy eating habits are associated with a myriad of health benefits and reduce the risk of developing chronic diet-related diseases, including type 2 diabetes, obesity and hypertension. They are also associated with higher cognitive functioning, reduced absenteeism, improved mood and stronger academic performance.
The plan identifies three goals for improving food education in NYC schools:
- Helping students build knowledge about healthy eating and wellness;
- Providing greater access to healthy, nutritious, and culturally appropriate meals in schools; and
- Empowering members of school communities, including parents, educators, food service workers, and administrators, to be wellness ambassadors.
“New York City public schools are national leaders in public education, including and especially in nutrition and meal services. We are proud of the work we’ve done so far to expand options for our young people, and I am thrilled to be embarking on this next step to further help educate students on healthy eating habits that they will take with them throughout their lives,” DOE Chancellor David Banks said. “I’m grateful to Mayor Adams for prioritizing this work to ensure a healthier future for our communities.”
How Will the Mayor Improve Food Education in NYC Schools?
One way the mayor plans to achieve the healthy food goals is through a “Food Education Guidebook” so schools can make informed decisions on programming, expanding alternative meal options, including halal kitchens and prioritizing capital improvements to school kitchens and cafeterias.
“Food education throughout a child’s career in New York City’s public schools is essential,” Mayor’s Office of Food Policy executive director Kate MacKenzie said. “Through comprehensive food education, students can build an understanding of food’s role in our many cultures, our relationships, our history, and our environment. This knowledge can empower our children to make healthy choices and achieve success inside the classroom and beyond. With the release of this roadmap, this administration is deepening its commitment to uplifting the health and wellbeing of all our students.”
The food education roadmap is the latest of several healthy food initiatives the mayor has announced since taking office. Most recently, he announced a state grant that will be used to purchase school food from local farmers. And last year, he introduced vegan Fridays, which is now called Plant Powered Fridays, in all New York City public schools.
“The CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute commends Mayor Adams, Chancellor Banks, and Executive Director MacKenzie for implementing a roadmap to prioritize food education in New York City’s public schools,”Nevin Cohen, deputy director, CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute, said. “This critical investment in our children’s lifelong health and wellbeing will empower graduates to advocate for healthier food environments in their communities, leading to a healthier future for all.”
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