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PR- 211-12
June 12, 2012


New York City is One of First Major Cities with Specific Local Food Initiatives

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda I. Gibbs today announced a set of guidelines encouraging City agencies to procure more food products grown, produced or harvested in New York State and to work with vendors to track current purchasing of NYS food where information available. New York City is one of the first major cities to develop a specific initiative on local food procurement.

“The City’s purchasing of New York food is good for our local economy and our health, as well as having the potential to be less expensive for the City and its taxpayers,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Providing agencies with more tools to foster the purchasing of food grown, produced, harvested, or processed in New York State will enable more New Yorkers to enjoy fresher, more seasonal food.”

“These guidelines were born out of FoodWorks, a comprehensive food policy blueprint to meet the needs of our growing population and achieve a healthier, more sustainable food system,” said Council Speaker Quinn. “As part of this plan, the Council passed legislation requiring the City to develop new procurement guidelines, encouraging purchasing from regional farmers and other food producers by City agencies, leveraging our economic influence as a major food buyer. New York City is second only to the United States military in institutional food purchasing. That’s an enormous power in the marketplace. And, if we consciously drive more of our purchasing locally, we’re going to see a significant impact in the local economy.”

“As one of the first major cities with specific policies around local food procurement, New York City is again leading the way when it come to healthy initiatives,” said Deputy Mayor Gibbs. “Seasonal, fresher produce is just one of the benefits of locally purchased food and we have the additional benefit of knowing we’re contributing to the local economy.”

“I, along with the Council, and with much credit to Speaker Quinn, have become a strong advocate for local agriculture which led me to introduce the legislation that became the guidelines released today,” said Councilmember Gale A. Brewer, Chair of the Governmental Operations Committee. “We can provide locally grown food to city agencies as well as the kitchens of New Yorkers. Since my July 7, 2011 New York State Farm and Infrastructure tour in Orange and Ulster Counties, it's clear to me that we have the production and processing capacity to partner with our farmers, get healthier, teach our kids to eat right, grow the economy, and save money. I encourage City agencies to embrace these guidelines by purchasing more locally grown and regionally processed foods in our agencies and even our schools, and I applaud the Administration for creating group purchasing partnerships to help non-profits buy more locally as well.”

“Strengthening urban-rural linkages is critical to creating a healthy food system and preserving our food shed,” said Food Policy Coordinator Kim Kessler. “By giving City agencies the ability to make more local purchases, we can provide more opportunities to local farmers, while increasing access to fresh, seasonal foods in our City agencies.”

As part of FoodWorks, a comprehensive plan that sets a bold vision for a more sustainable food system, the City Council passed legislation requiring the City to develop new food procurement guidelines to encourage agencies to purchase from regional providers, harnessing the potential to be a powerful and major food purchaser.

Under the new guidelines, agencies are encouraged to review their current “menu” to identify areas where a currently procured product might be replaced with an alternative product available from New York State, such as changing oranges to apples.

Additionally, city agencies may grant a “price preference” for New York State food, e.g., agencies may determine that it is appropriate to award a particular contract to a bidder offering New York State food products whose price falls within 10% of the lowest responsive, responsible bidder’s price, where that low bidder does not offer New York State food products.

A goal of the initiative is to help other city agencies to build on successes of the Department of Educations’s SchoolFood, which currently buys an estimated $25 million worth of regional products with most of it coming from New York State, equaling at least 14 percent of the City’s total food budget; the new guidelines encourage other City agencies to follow suit. (In FY 11, DOE spent $142.3 million on food purchases and of that amount 18% was spent on locally produced food. FY 12 from July to December, DOE spent $64.4 million on food purchases and of that amount 18.4% was spent on locally produced food.)

To help its nonprofit human service partners leverage their purchasing power and reduce administrative costs, the City has established a group purchasing partnership with Essensa, and worked to ensure the availability of New York State food products.

Along with the Group Purchasing partnership, the City also outlines other methods of local food purchasing such as through Greenmarket Co., which delivers local food to businesses in NYC; GrowNYC’s Wholesale Greenmarket, which facilitates sales between wholesale buyers and local farmers; as well as Farmers Markets and Food Hubs which directly connect the farmer to the purchaser.

Along with the local food procurement guidelines is a recommendation to agencies and vendors that the food purchased be sustainable by concentrating on seasonal foods.


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