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April 19th, 2021

Andrew Yang Visits NYC’s Biggest ‘Food Swamp,’ Lays Out Plans to Increase Equity and Fight Food Insecurity

**RELEASE** April 19th, 2021

Today, Andrew Yang, Democratic candidate for Mayor of New York City, joined Freelancers Union President, and former NYC Council Member, Rafael Espinal, in East New York to announce his plan to address the inequalities in the City’s food supply, the negative impact of which results in significantly disproportionate poor health outcomes for low-income people and communities of color.

New York, NY East New York (ENY) is the biggest food swamp in NYC, meaning there are more available fast food options than healthy options, including 41 fast food chains in the 11207 and 11208 zip codes alone. As a result, a highly disproportionate 31% of community residents are considered obese, compared to the citywide obesity rate of just 24%. ENY also has the City’s highest diabetes rate in NYC at 18%. 

Said Andrew Yang, “In neighborhoods across the five boroughs, we can see clearly how lacking access to quality, affordable, and healthy food not only leads to food insecurity, but also causes inequitable health outcomes. Even before the pandemic, nearly 1.2 million New Yorkers were experiencing food insecurity, including one in five children, and it’s only gotten worse. Meanwhile, in food swamps like East New York, adult New Yorkers are two and a half times more likely to have type 2 diabetes. But while the results of New Yorkers not having enough healthy alternatives to fast food is predictable, it’s also solvable.”

Said Freelancers Union President Rafael Espinal, “If we’re going to be serious about combating inequality, food access and nutrition must be at the forefront of the next administration’s priorities. That means investing in all of the programs that exist but have been half-baked by prior administrations and also expanding support to organizations that have been doing the work, increasing healthy options, and educating students and communities about wellness. I am proud to continue the work I started in the Council to bring investments to East New York and increase access to healthy food and education citywide alongside Andrew Yang.”

Andrew Yang and Raphael Espinal
Raphael Espinal and Andrew Yang

Andrew Yang's Plan to Ensure Food Equity Includes:

Strengthening and Expanding the Mayor's Office of Food Policy

  • Coordinate city efforts better by leveraging the successful “Food Czar” role that was created as a pandemic measure and making it permanent. 
  • Direct Health + Hospitals and other organizations in close contact with communities of food insecurity to screen for food insecurity, in addition to other regularly screened issues, including diabetes and hypertension.
  • Support emergency food providers, including by creating a dataset of all food pantries, soup kitchens, commit to reopening the pantries that shuttered during the pandemic, recruit and train employees to work in pantries.

Improving the Quality, Nutrition, and Cultural Appropriateness of City-Provided Meals

  • Implement “Good Food Purchasing,” the concept that agencies should use their dollars in the service of 5 principles: supporting local economies, a valued workforce, nutrition, environmental sustainability and animal welfare. NYC is one of the largest food purchasers in the nation, second behind only the Department of Defense. 
  • Increase quality meals for students by expanding kosher and halal pilot programs to all schools. A Yang administration would also work to teach kids about wellness and healthy eating. 

Aggressively Targeting Structural Racism and Inequity Within our Food System

  • Increase education on SNAP & WIC for New Yorkers and CUNY students.
  • Build sustainable local food capacity & incentivize the creation of supermarkets. The city has the Food Retail Expansion & Support (FRESH program) that lowers the cost of owning a supermarket in certain areas. But only 29 projects have taken advantage of it. 
  • Support GrowNYC, which organizes farmers markets in communities. Why does Union Square have the best farmers market? GrowNYC relies largely on local council members to give  funding to bring the markets to their districts. A Yang administration will expand this access.
  • Leverage community gardens as the vital resource they are. A Yang administration would direct the city to negotiate in better faith on Community Licensing Agreements. For example, we would reevaluate the “termination-at-will clause,” to bring more stability to community gardens. 
  • Facilitate urban agriculture by reducing regulatory burdens, incentivizing more firms to start up and create jobs in communities of color. 


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