Policies and practices that promote access to healthy eating can dramatically change the quality of life for countless New York City residents and can help set the standard for the rest of the world to follow. Studies have long shown that a healthy diet is linked to a reduced risk of disease including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Healthy eating can also lead to weight loss, improve memory, strengthen bones, and a longer life.
Ban Unhealthy Eateries at Government-Controlled Buildings. In promoting healthy eating, Aaron believes that the city must practice what it preaches. New York City should create a policy in which only healthy eateries and local growers can lease government-owned retail space. This means that unhealthy eateries would be banned in food courts in airports, train stations, subway stations, government offices, and parks. Aaron supports banning unhealthy eateries in government buildings to make room for an abundance of affordable, fresh food choices, and to incentivize consumption of healthy, humane, and locally grown foods.
Healthy Dining Dollars. Dining plans have long been a staple of college and university student services, allowing access nutritious food at a reduced price. “Dining dollars” at colleges and universities typically promote discounts at participating local restaurants. Establishing a similar citywide Healthy Dining Dollars program would involve health conscious, small restaurants who enroll with the City government to provide residents with various discounts when purchasing food. Any individual living below the poverty line would be automatically given a $150 voucher each month to spend at these registered healthy eateries. Those above the poverty line could also buy into the program to receive significant discounts from these small restaurants. Not only would these businesses see an increase in profits by expanding their citywide exposure and accessibility, but also, residents could save money and be enabled to make healthier food choices.
Promoting Healthy Eating in Schools. Our schools should be showing students from an early age what healthy eating looks like. Children should be given opportunities to practice what they learn in health classes by working with kitchen staff to assist in making healthy choices in their cafeterias. Aaron supports promoting healthy, balanced meals served at both breakfast and lunch for all students. Our kids deserve healthy school lunches made with fresh produce and local ingredients, not processed foods. Aaron will eliminate the processed, unhealthy, frozen foods that are leaving our children with lifelong medical complications and, instead, require school cafeteria workers be taught how to make healthy foods from scratch.
Address Food Insecurity. Unfortunately, more than 1.2 million New York City residents, nearly 15% of our citizens, are food insecure. These New Yorkers go without access to adequate food to support an active, healthy lifestyle. Instead, they often eat cheap, processed food, which is linked to obesity and illness. Expanding support for food and nutrition assistance programs is a necessity to make the city healthier and to help it thrive. Especially since we now live in the era of COVID-19, and given that current leadership has failed to address how nutritious eating habits can keep us healthy, successfully addressing food insecurity will set standards for the rest of the world.