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PR- 365-08
September 19, 2008


New York is First Major City to Set Nutrition Standards for all Foods Purchased and Served

Guidelines Will Make More Than 225 Million Snacks and Meals Served by City Each Year Healthier

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and NBA superstar Shaquille O'Neal today announced the launch of the City's first formal food standards, ensuring that the 225 million snacks and meals served annually by City agencies are healthier than ever.  New York City is the first major city in the country to set nutrition standards for all foods purchased or served.  The new standards, pursuant to an executive order, apply to snacks and meals served in places such as schools, senior centers, homeless shelters, child care centers, after school programs, correctional facilities, public hospitals and parks. The standards require City agencies to serve only healthier beverages such as skim or 1 percent milk (with exceptions for babies), phase out deep frying, include two servings of fruits and vegetables in every lunch and dinner, lower salt content and increase the amount of fiber in meals.  The Mayor and Shaquille O'Neal were joined at PS 189 in Manhattan by City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda I. Gibbs, Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development Dennis M. Walcott, Health Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden, Department of Youth and Community Development Commissioner Jeanne B. Mullgrav, Schools Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm, Public School 189 Principal Theresa Luger, City Council Member Miguel Martinez and members of the City's  Food Policy Task Force.

NBA superstar O'Neal is committed to the fight against childhood obesity. Through his TV show "Shaq's Big Challenge" and its website companion, Shaq is helping children and their families learn about the benefits of nutrition, keeping a healthy weight and fitness. 

"We are making healthier eating the norm by improving the food we offer," said Mayor Bloomberg. "These new standards are a simple and practical step for the City to use its purchasing power to help more New Yorkers stay well. Improving food has been a priority of my administration from the start and we've made tremendous progress.  We hope that employers and other organizations will follow the healthy example we are setting -- anyone who serves food can save lives by adopting standards like these." 

"New York City is taking action to provide families with easy access to healthy meals and snacks," said Shaquille O'Neal. "Obesity is a real health crisis among America's children. Everything we can do to help families with nutrition will in the long run change and save lives."

"Today is a momentous day for New York City.  Two and a half years ago when I called for the creation of the food policy coordinator position, it was with the idea in mind that a top priority of the office would be to institute healthy food standards that ensure all food provided by City agencies to New Yorkers is nutritious," said Speaker Christine C. Quinn.  "This executive order officially makes that a permanent reality by formally establishing the coordinator position and doing something that no other major City has been able to do - requiring that all City agencies that provide food comply with the latest standards defining a healthy diet.  This collaboration between the City Council and the administration will impact the lives of countless New Yorkers who eat in our schools, our senior centers, soup kitchens, and beyond and is a great step forward in fighting the obesity epidemic that is impacting our children and all our residents."

"Through the hard work of the Food Policy Task Force and the Food Policy Coordinator we've been able to bring together the many city agencies that play a role in expanding access to affordable and nutritious food options - particularly in low income communities," said Deputy Mayor Linda I. Gibbs.  "This effort is another critical tool in our fight against the public health crisis caused by obesity and diabetes."

"It's important that kids understand the value of eating healthy and Shaq's message is a simple one delivered on a level they can all understand," said Deputy Mayor Dennis M. Walcott.  "We already know there is a strong correlation between children who eat regular nutritious meals and their ability to learn, and setting food standards is an important way to ensure that our children get what they need." 

"Nutritious meals help our students keep healthy and stay alert in their classes," said Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein. "Since 2004, we have eliminated trans fats in our school meals. We've also reduced salt, started offering more fresh fruits and vegetables, and replaced white flour with whole wheat - even in our pizza dough."

"Obesity and with it diabetes are the only major health problems getting worse in our city and throughout the United States," said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden.  "Foods loaded with excess salt, sugar and calories cause preventable heart attacks and strokes every day in New York City. Since 2006 we have required healthier beverages and stronger food standards in day care and have been working hard to expand access to fresh fruits and vegetables.  By setting these wider-ranging standards we can help make healthier choices the norm and prevent early deaths."

"It is an honor to stand here with the students and Principal Luger of Public School 189 in Washington Heights.  This initiative is vital to fight the obesity epidemic in our communities," said Council Member Miguel Martinez.

The standards were developed by the City's Food Policy Task Force, led by Food Policy Coordinator Ben Thomases, with active participation from City agency staff.  They set guidelines for food and meals purchased or served directly or through contractors. They are part of the City's effort to reduce obesity in school children, the most frequent consumers of City food, and to reduce obesity and high blood pressure in adults and seniors who regularly consume publicly-purchased food.

The new standards extend existing federal guidelines and will continue to ensure that the City's meal programs appropriately address hunger and food insecurity.  Meals will continue to provide the quantity of food people need while maximizing nutritional value.  Together, City agencies purchase and serve food for 225 million meals and snacks annually, giving suppliers a strong incentive to improve the healthfulness of their food to meet the City's nutritional requirements. The City's new trans fat and calorie posting regulations have already had this effect, shifting the food supply to healthier oils and prompting chain restaurants to reduce calorie content and offer lower-calorie alternatives. The standards will be communicated to suppliers to ensure that they understand how to comply with them.

The Standards address the specific nutritional requirements of the populations served by different City agencies (e.g. children, seniors).  Among the provisions:

  • Each meal must provide an appropriate range of calories, salt and fiber
  • Water must be available at all meals in addition to the other beverages regularly served
  • Juice must be 100% fruit juice and recommended servings should not exceed 8 ounces
  • Lunches and dinners must include at least two servings of vegetables
  • Agencies that serve three meals daily must provide at least five servings of fruits and vegetables
  • Fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables should be used in place of canned products, where appropriate
  • Deep fryers will be eliminated over time
  • All food purchased and served must have 0 grams trans fat

All City agencies must have a plan for regular menu review to ensure that they have accomplished the specified nutrient content goals and progress will be reviewed periodically.  Agencies should be in compliance with most requirements within six months, with remaining standards to be phased in over time.

Over the past six years, New York City has led the nation in innovative health policies by implementing comprehensive tobacco control measures that have made restaurants smoke-free, reduced the number of New York City smokers by more than 300,000 and cut the rate of teen smoking in half.  The City is also eliminating trans fat in restaurant food, posting calorie information on chain restaurant menus, expanding farmers markets and bringing fresh fruits and vegetables to the communities that need them the most through bodegas and Green Carts.  In crafting the standards, the task force built on the work already being done by many City agencies, such as the Department of Education.   When New York City's public schools switched from whole milk to 1 percent fat milk in 2006, for example, 800,000 students consumed approximately 38 less calories per day, on average.  This small change could lead to a difference of nearly 2 pounds per student each year.

The Food Policy Task Force and position of Food Policy Coordinator were created in 2006 in partnership by Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn with a goal of expanding the availability of nutritious, affordable food in underserved communities, enhancing the nutritional standards followed by City agencies in feeding clients and staff and improving access to food support programs.


Stu Loeser / Dawn Walker / Kathleen Carlson   (212) 788-2958

David Cantor   (Education)
(212) 374-5141

Jessica Scaperotti   (Health)
(212) 788-5290

Perry Rogers (Shaquille O'Neal)   (702) 949-5155

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