NEW YORK CITY – May 22, 2007 – Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn today launched three initiatives to improve access to food support programs and promote healthy lifestyles in lower income communities: the creation of a public-private partnership that was awarded a $500K grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to encourage healthful eating and more active lifestyles; the implementation of technology that will enable more community-based organizations to enroll families in the Food Stamp program; and the addition of School Meals programs and other food benefits for low-income children and families to ACCESS NYC's online screening tool. Joining the Mayor, Speaker Quinn and Deputy Brooklyn Borough President Yvonne Graham at the Green Market at Brooklyn Borough Hall were Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, Linda Gibbs; Human Resources Administration Commissioner Robert Doar; Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Thomas Frieden; Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications Commissioner, Paul Cosgrave; New York City Food Policy Coordinator, Benjamin Thomases; FoodChange Board Member Fran Barrett; and Executive Director of the Council on the Environment for New York City, Marcel Van Ooyen.
"We're working hard to ensure that all New York City residents have access to healthy food to make sure that healthy eating and physical activity become a part of everyday life for all New Yorkers," said Mayor Bloomberg. "We are also using technology to make it easier for people who are working their way out of poverty to get the benefits they need. We are grateful to the Kellogg Foundation and the USDA for their support."
The measures announced today represent further steps in the Mayor's and Speaker's work to increase access to healthful foods in low-income communities—a vision they laid out after the creation of a new Food Policy Task Force and the position of Food Policy Coordinator in January 2007. The Task Force is charged with expanding the availability of nutritious, affordable food in underserved communities and improving access to food support programs. Expanding access to critical work support programs like food stamps, the creation of the Food Policy Task Force, and expanding ACCESS NYC are consistent with recommendations issued by the Mayor's Commission for Economic Opportunity.
"Today we are celebrating great milestones in the fight against hunger and obesity in New York City," said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. "The Council is proud to have partnered with the Administration and with organizations throughout the City to help connect more families to nutritious foods. We are thrilled that electronic food stamp application submission, long a priority for the Council, is now being expanded to all five boroughs. In addition, this grant from the Kellogg Foundation will help us develop innovative programs that will allow us to reach even more New Yorkers."
"The combination of innovative technology and partnerships with community based organizations is the key to improving the food programs in New York City. I am proud that the City is continuing to provide a model for the nation," said HRA Commissioner Robert Doar.
"The best measure of any successful technology is how accessible it is to its end users, and ACCESS NYC continues to shine in this regard," said DoITT Commissioner Paul Cosgrave. "This initiative, like many the Mayor has introduced, helps to transform City government by providing access to essential services in a truly customer-oriented way."
"Speaking as both a public official and a public health professional," said Brooklyn Deputy Borough President Yvonne Graham, "I commend Mayor Bloomberg, Speaker Quinn, and all here today for recognizing that state-of-the-art technology and public-private collaborations with partners like the Kellogg Foundation can help increase access to the nutritious food and critical services that underserved Brooklynites and New Yorkers so richly deserve."
The New York City Partnership for Food and Fitness, created with a $500,000 grant awarded from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, is a partnership of public and private organizations that will identify and recommend ways to make healthy eating and physical activity a part of daily life for more New Yorkers. Participating groups include the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, the New York City Health Department, the City Council Speaker's Office, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, and nonprofit organizations including FoodChange, Transportation Alternatives, and Project for Public Spaces. The Partnership will seek to empower communities to shape their environments to encourage physical activity and healthy eating.
"The Partnership for Food and Fitness was chosen to join us in this effort because of its passionate leadership, commitment to the community, and for the inroads it has already made in organizing around the issue of healthy communities," said Linda Jo Doctor, Kellogg Foundation program director in Health. "We hope our support will enable them to create more energy, interest, ideas, and involvement. The Partnership for Food and Fitness will be part of a nationwide network of communities that will not only inspire one another, but also ignite and energize other communities across the country."
"We are excited to be part of Kellogg's initiative to support healthy children and families in New York City," said New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker. "As the project team member responsible for supporting and developing New York State's food and agriculture industry, we are pleased that Kellogg is helping to improve the access to high quality, locally grown food, benefiting both farm and non-farm sectors of New York State."
Food Stamp Community Partner Pilot
The Mayor and the Speaker also announced today the addition of the Queens Food Stamp Center and the East River Development Alliance emergency food program in Long Island City to the Community Partner Pilot program.
The Community Partner Pilot will modernize the food stamp application process and enable soup kitchens and food pantries to become locations where potentially eligible individuals and families can get help applying for the program. The technology, developed by HRA, allows food stamp offices to process applications received from community groups, as well as in-person applicants, in a new interactive, paperless process. The Community Partner Pilot was launched this year in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Staten Island. Ninety applications have been filed so far. In June, the Pilot will be launched in Manhattan's East End Food Stamp Center and the Yorkville Common Pantry, making the program available in each the five boroughs. The technology will also be implemented in 30 HRA food stamp offices over the next year, setting the groundwork for the program's possible expansion throughout New York City.
The Food Stamp Community-Partner Pilot Project is a partnership among HRA, the USDA, FoodChange, and the New York City Coalition Against Hunger (NYCCAH), and was created by HRA and paid for with a $1 million grant from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Three food programs were added to ACCESS NYC, an online resource that promotes self-sufficiency among New York City's residents by providing a single point of entry to City, State, and Federal human service benefit programs. With the addition of these programs—the Women, Infants and Children program (WIC), the School Meals Program, and the summer meals program—families will be able to determine if their children are eligible for programs that ensure access to nutritious food. ACCESS NYC is an online tool that brings 28 different city, state, and federal human service benefit programs—including food stamps—into a single website, which is available in seven languages. By entering basic household information into the site at www.nyc.gov, applicants can obtain a list of the programs for which they are potentially eligible, print partially-complete application forms, as well as find office locations if they prefer to apply in person.
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation was established in 1930 "to help people help themselves through the practical application of knowledge and resources to improve their quality of life and that of future generations." To achieve the greatest impact, the Foundation targets its grants toward specific areas. These include: health; food systems and rural development; youth and education; and philanthropy and volunteerism. Within these areas, attention is given to exploring learning opportunities in leadership; information and communication technology.