For the past ten years, New York City has been engaged in an effort to improve access to healthy food, reduce food insecurity, support community development, promote sustainable food systems, and improve conditions for food workers. Every year, the city publishes the Food Metrics Reports to present data on its progress using selected food system indicators.
In an article published in the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, faculty and staff from the Urban Food Policy Institute at CUNY SPH analyzed the past ten years’ reports to assess how the metrics describe the city’s progress in implementing municipal food policies set in the last decade.
Distinguished Professor Nicholas Freudenberg, Associate Professor Nevin Cohen and the institute’s Deputy Director Craig Willingham identified opportunities to enhance the measurement of food system change by tracking different dimensions of the food system, such as the sub-populations experiencing food insecurity, using additional sources of public data such as the Department of Education’s reports on the use of school meals, and engaging stakeholders in the process of indicator development.
“Food metrics are not merely tools for technocrats,” Cohen says. “If carefully crafted, they can make the food system visible, understandable, and salient to a wider range of advocates. Metrics are essential for effective public participation in food policy.”
Freudenberg, N., Willingham, C., & Cohen, N. The role of metrics in food policy: Lessons from a decade of experience in New York City. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 8(Suppl. 2), 191–209.