Make healthy lifestyles easier in all neighborhoods
A core part of supporting physical and mental health is providing access to nutritious and accessible food across all communities and a built environment that supports health and well-being. New York City has developed strong programs that support knowledge of and access to healthy food options. However, there continue to be barriers to consistent access to healthy and affordable food options. To ensure equitable access to nutritious food and environments that support health, we must continue to develop partnerships between urban planning and public health to tackle persistent health inequities that are the result of social determinants such as community retail corridors, income, transportation, housing, and public safety. Uneven development of these underlying factors have contributed to unfair and unjust differences in life expectancy of more than 10 years between New York City neighborhoods. The City will continue to promote strategies that support improved design of buildings, streets, and neighborhoods and connection to social and health resources that support health beyond just physical activity. The City will also be a catalyst for changes to our food environment, making it easier for all New Yorkers to have meaningful access to healthier foods.
About 20 percent of New Yorkers live in poverty, and nearly 1.6 million New Yorkers rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to purchase food. Adults in high-poverty neighborhoods consume fewer fruits and vegetables on average than those in low-poverty neighborhoods. The City will work to close this gap by expanding the Health Bucks program to help New Yorkers access fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables, increasing the Health Bucks SNAP incentive to a $1 for $1 match at local farmers markets, and will continue to offer interactive nutrition education programs across the city.
New York City will also improve the foods and beverages served by City government by implementing a Good Food Purchasing Policy across key constituent food serving agencies, providing a transparent metrics-based, flexible framework that encourages large institutions to direct their buying power toward five core values: local economies, environmental sustainability, valued workforce, animal welfare, and nutrition. Applying these principles in the work to purchase food through agencies will help increase consumption of high-quality nutritious food and increase knowledge of the desirability of healthy food. The City will also update the NYC Food Standards to phase out purchases of processed meat, which has been linked with increased risk of cancer and is often high in saturated fat and sodium which is linked to heart disease. Processed meat will be replaced by healthier proteins, including an increase in plant-based options. In addition, the City’s 11 public hospitals have begun offering plant-based options, and beginning in the 2019–2020 school year, all schools will serve vegetarian meals on Mondays.
In addition, the City will focus on reducing risk factors for heart disease and cancer by limiting access to added sugar. Through the National Salt and Sugar Reduction Initiative, a partnership of organizations and health authorities from across the country and convened by DOHMH, the City will finalize sugar reduction targets in packaged foods and beverages. To make food and beverage options at stores healthier, we will encourage companies to meet these voluntary sugar-reduction targets. Access to affordable, quality food is an essential component of building strong neighborhoods, and the City will continue the Food Retail Expansion to Support Health (FRESH) program, which promotes the establishment and expansion of grocery stores in underserved communities by lowering the costs of owning, developing, and renovating retail space.
The City will update and expand the Active Design Guidelines (ADGs) to include physical design strategies for buildings, streets, urban agriculture, and public spaces, including farmers’ markets, that support mental health and social well-being, and promote environments that make healthy choices easier for all New Yorkers. First published in 2010, the ADGs outline innovative approaches to the challenges of chronic disease, with a focus on obesity. The updated guidelines will further ensure the City is promoting evidence-based built-environment design strategies that support not just physical health, but also mental and social health, across all neighborhoods.