Adams announces healthier meals for New York City public school students

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New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced an updated standard of meals provided at public schools to ensure New Yorkers have access to healthier eating options.

These updated food standards aim to support more than 1 million New York residents, including schoolchildren, older adults and Health + Hospitals patients accessing meals or snacks from city agencies. 

In the April 1 announcement, the mayor said the guidelines would begin July 1, 2023 and have been compiled by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH).

“I have long said that our agencies should not literally be feeding our ongoing health care crisis, by serving foods that contribute to chronic diet-related diseases,” said Mayor Adams. “These new food standards will help minimize the consumption of processed foods and sugary drinks, while encouraging whole and plant-based food options. This is a transformational step toward aligning our agencies’ missions and, more importantly, helping New Yorkers, including our most vulnerable, lead healthier, happier lives.”

As part of these new standards, individuals accessing meals and/or snacks from city agencies will be served food with less added sugars, lower sodium, a reduced number of beef options and more opportunities to have a plant-based protein. Additionally, sugary drinks will be removed from city vending machines.

More updates include a new added sugar limit; requiring less than 10 percent of calories served come from added sugars; lower daily sodium limit for youth; new requirement for half of all grains served to be whole grain; new requirement for offering whole or minimally processed plant-proteins, such as beans; new limit for beef and processed meats; new requirement for agencies to solicit client feedback regarding cultural preferences, taste, and food quality; new restriction to eliminate sugary drinks in vending machines, as well as the creation of a new limit of two slots for 100 percent juice per vending machine; and integration of nutrition and sustainability standards to simultaneously address and strengthen individual and planetary health and better align the standards with the “Good Food Purchasing Framework”

“Access to healthy food and drink options is essential in our efforts to improve health outcomes in the Bronx and throughout the city,” said New York State Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz. “I applaud Mayor Adams and Commissioner Vasan for giving this issue the attention it needs, and I look forward to a continued effort to ensure that all New Yorkers have easy and affordable access to healthy food through our school system and public meals programs.”

Other elected officials agreed with the move to healthier food and snack options for New Yorkers, saying access to healthy nutrition would overall benefit the city. 

“There are few greater moral imperatives for New York City than providing schoolchildren, older adults, H+H patients, and other vulnerable residents with access to healthy meals and snacks,” said New York State Assemblymember Eddie Gibbs. “A healthy-eating New York is a stronger New York, and I applaud the mayor’s announcement of these new food standards. This is a significant step forward towards achieving health equity in our city.”