FoodWorks initiative has proven successful in creating more jobs, improving public health and protecting the environment

New York, NY– Today, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn unveiled a report showing significant improvements to the city’s food system with the help of FoodWorks – a comprehensive plan that sets forth a vision for a more sustainable food system. The report provides updates on the Speaker’s plan, which made recommendations in the areas of agriculture, processing, distribution, consumption and post-consumption. The report also lays out more than 20 new and updated initiatives, such as the creation of an agricultural workforce program called NYC FarmerWorks, to ensure that New York City remains a national leader in the movement to create a better food system.

“Today, we are proud of the strides we’ve made toward our overall goal of building a stronger food system,” said Speaker Quinn. “This report shows that by working with City agencies, non-profits, advocates and communities, we have effectively improved the food system – from ground to garbage – by taking bold legislative, policy and programmatic approaches to improve public health, support the local economy and protect the environment.”

Below are highlights of the FoodWorks initiative’s progress:

100 plots of land have been identified as potentially suitable for community gardening and urban agriculture through the creation of an online, public database of vacant city-owned property projects
More than 1.4 million pounds of scraps have been collected at City Council-funded Greenmarket community compost sites
94% of all New York City farmers markets now accept Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT), a debit card system for food stamps. EBT redemption at Greenmarkets has increased from $1,000 in 2005 to over $800,000 in 2012.
Since opening in 2010, the City Council-supported kitchen incubator Hot Bread Kitchen has supported 32 new food companies and its bakery employs 52 New Yorkers.
The City’s signature food access initiative Food Retail Expansion to Support Health (FRESH) has approved financial and zoning incentives for 16 new or expanding grocery stores.
GroceryWorks – a job training program that prepares candidates for positions in the grocery and food retail industry – has graduated 190 New Yorkers with 76% placed in jobs.
Guidelines designed to increase local purchasing by city agencies have been implemented and has led to the delivery of Orange County products to Department of Corrections facilities.
“Today’s FoodWorks report highlights the city’s real progress on food policy made under Speaker Quinn’s leadership. By continuing to implement FoodWorks’ plan to build a stronger, more sustainable food system, we can build a healthier New York,” said Council Member Annabel Palma.

“Today’s report announcing the city’s progress in improving our food system is a testament to the vision of the FoodWorks package Speaker Quinn, myself, and my colleagues in the Council envisioned in 2010,” said Council Member Gale A. Brewer. “The accomplishment I am most proud of is my Local Sourcing legislation, which has already led to important food sourcing contracts being awarded to local food producers, saving local jobs and keeping New York City tax dollars within the five boroughs. We remain committed to ensuring New York City has the greenest, greatest food system in the country.”

Council Member Steve Levin said, “Since its inception, FoodWorks has successfully expanded access to healthy and sustainable foods, provided needed job training programs, and spurred substantial growth in New York City’s food industry. The expanded FoodWorks initiative reflects Speaker Quinn’s continued commitment to food access and economic growth. I look forward to working with the Speaker to implement these recommendations, including establishing a co-packing facility to assist Brooklyn’s thriving food manufacturers.”

Some of the report’s recommendations for future action include:

Create NYC FarmerWorks, a workforce program that trains the long-term unemployed in agricultural work and help support community gardens.
Take advantage of NYC brand while meeting the burgeoning demand for local food by creating an innovative city-grown produce line called NYC-EATS that could be sold to restaurants, food retailers, and beyond.
Open a satellite of the Northeast Center for Food Entrepreneurship (NECFE) in New York City to provide technical assistance and food science support to food companies looking to open and expand their business.
Develop a co-packing facility in the city to allow large-scale production for food manufacturers, helping food businesses grow and stay in New York City.
Extend the city’s Health Bucks program beyond farmers markets to other food retailers.
Support a city-wide Farm to Campus initiative across New York City’s higher education institutions to share best practices and conduct collaborative purchasing agreements that increase the amount of local and sustainable produce served across campuses.
To read the full report, please visit

Since its inception in the fall of 2010, FoodWorks has become an indispensable guide that has enabled the Council and other New Yorkers to improve the food system across all of its phases. As part of the report released today, Speaker Quinn announced over 20 additional recommendations to ensure that New York City remains a national leader in the movement to create a better food system.