Building Healthy Communities

Grantee Name

Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy

Funding Area

Building Healthy Communities

Publication Date

January 2019

Grant Amount

$260,692

Grant Date:

April 2016-May 2018

Nutrition education programs (NEPs) are school-based strategies to increase healthy food choices and improve nutrition-related behaviors. NEPs include a range of activities, including physical activity programs, school gardens, local food sourcing for cafeterias, or a formal nutrition curriculum.

Little research had been done on how New York State or City governments currently support, implement, and coordinate nutrition education. Some limited studies suggested that at all levels of government, nutrition education is underfunded and lacks coordination. To direct resources to groups that most need these opportunities and invest in innovative solutions, it was critical for stakeholders to have accurate data on the state of nutrition education, how much funding was available, and where and how it was being spent.

In 2016, NYSHealth awarded the Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy a grant to assess the state of nutrition education in New York City public schools and identify how the State supports nutrition education.

Outcomes and Lessons Learned

What makes these reports unique is that they are the first and only comprehensive analyses of federal, State, and City policies and programs that can support nutrition education.

The reports offer a road map to further strengthen policies and programs that help New Yorkers buy, grow, prepare, eat, and advocate for healthier foods. Among the findings:

  • Food and nutrition education is woven throughout many New York State and City initiatives, yet there is no overarching framework to coordinate all the systems to fund, administer, and deliver nutrition education initiatives. For example, in 2016, 8 State agencies administered 32 initiatives and 11 City agencies administered 42 initiatives to support nutrition education.
  • New York State and City agencies and local providers grapple with their respective roles in supporting nutrition education and acknowledge that more collaboration and coordination are necessary.
  • New York State and City nutrition education initiatives rely heavily on federal funding, making them highly vulnerable to federal and State budget cuts.

The reports provide specific recommendations at the State and City levels for policymakers to improve the nutrition education landscape and help New Yorkers eat well throughout their lives, including:

  • Expand the scope, reach, and sustainability of nutrition education, including investing more State and City tax dollars to make initiatives more flexible and sustainable.
  • Increase the capacity of local providers, community-based organizations, and community members to design and implement nutrition education policy.
  • Strengthen policies for nutrition education by codifying initiatives in State laws and regulations and engaging elected officials as nutrition education champions.
  • Improve collaboration by promoting a common definition for nutrition education, creating mechanisms to coordinate efforts within and across agencies, and developing consistent food and nutrition goals across agencies, communities, and schools.

The “A Is for Apple” final report and accompanying searchable database has garnered considerable attention, with interest in replicating the project from other states, such as New Jersey and Utah, and several regions of New York State, including Binghamton, Buffalo, and Rochester. In New York City, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Council Member Mark Treyger introduced a bill to amend an administrative code, which would require the New York City Department of Education to report on the state of nutrition in public schools. The Education Committee has scheduled a vote for later this spring; if the bill passes, schools will be required to report annually on food and nutrition education taught to students in each grade by external programs and classroom teachers.

Co-Funding and Additional Funds Leveraged: N/A