Meetings with Mayor's Office of Food Policy and Department of Health
Today I met with the Mayor's Office of Food Policy's acting director Eric McDonald and Anna Besendorf. They were very gracious and very interested in learning more about what we are fighting for and listened and asked a lot of questions. After I presented our platform, I asked whether the city would endorse our platform and I was answered in very round-about terms that didn't give me any real commitment. I said, Let's adopt this platform as a city and work together and build a road map to change, let's lead the nation and make a difference. She didn't really give me any concrete feedback. There were a lot of words arranged into a sentence but I honestly don't understand what she was saying. Maybe I just don't understand English anymore. I finally said, is this a platform the Mayor believes in? She could not answer that but said that she would bring our points to the Deputy Mayor for human services. She seemed genuine in her interest in our platform though and she promised to get back to us in August.
She indicated that many city agencies including DOE are voluntarily going to adopt Good Food Purchasing which could help us. It definitely will, but voluntary adoption doesn't seem to be the best way forward. You need legislation and enforcement. But a step in the right direction I suppose. Anna added that the Garden to Cafe program is a way that they are committed to gardens. I asked about a chocolate milk and juice ban and whether there would be any way to establish a Mister Softee perimeter ban. Erin said she would inquire about the mayor's plans regarding all of these policies.
I look forward to next steps with her and for the next meeting hope to bring a coalition of parents together.
I also met about chocolate milk and juice with an amazing team of women at the Department of Health who are very supportive of our work and shared a lot of the programming they are doing to improve the health of children in schools and particularly high poverty areas with chronic obesity and related disease. That said DOE does not report to DOH and, quite frankly, there is nothing that they can do to force OFNS to take obesity-causing drinks off the menu. They did applaud our work and want to support us but they have no power. They are working bottom up in schools to remove chocolate milk and improve health of kids.
It's really ironic and almost criminal to me that we have one arm of city government trying to remove sweetened beverages and another arm of government feeding that very thing to 1 million children a day. I feel like perhaps the best way forward on this point is for me to just write about this. Other thoughts welcome.
Next big event is the Speaker's Food Equity Speech on August 1st that I will be attending and I think will address some of our asks.
Have a good weekend everyone!