From the people that brought us An Inconvenient Truth, The Help, Food Inc. and Waiting for Superman, this documentary examines the issue of hunger in America. It is in our best interest that we make healthy food available and affordable because right now we are facing serious economic, social and cultural implications for our nation. One in four children in the United States do not know where their next meal is coming from.
WHO: NYC Coalition Against Hunger, Hunter’s Graduate Student Nutrition Club and the NYC Food Policy Center WHAT:FREE Screening of A Place at the Table WHEN: Thursday, May 9th from 2 to 4 PM WHERE: CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College, 2180 Third Avenue at 119th Street RSVP HERE
Lal Barak, owner of Crown Fried Chicken at Lexington Avenue & East 116th Street, talks to Melissa about how Mayor Bloomberg’s soda ban would hurt his business. (PHOTO CREDIT: DNAinfo/Jeff Mays)
Melissa participated in a walking tour of East Harlem last Wednesday with reporters and the American Beverage Association to see how the soda ban would potentially affect local businesses. After speaking one-on-one with restaurant owners, all previous concerns about the ban have only been further reinforced.
The ban will cover soda fountain drinks and teas at any establishment that receives a letter grade from the city’s Health Department. That list includes restaurants, fast-food restaurants, delis, movie theaters, sports arenas and food carts that will be prohibited from selling sugary drinks that are larger than 16 ounces. However, this does not prevent consumers from going next door to where they’re eating to purchase a large soda at a grocery store or bodega. That is the major concern for many local East Harlem establishments – most of which are sandwiched between grocery stores, delis, and bodegas.
“This is just a distraction,” Melissa said about the proposed ban. “East Harlem has the highest proportion of obese adults in New York City and nearly half of our residents report not exercising at all. We should be focusing on changing our communities’ attitudes towards health and that starts with enforcing mandatory physical education in public schools and increasing access to fresh, healthy foods. Only 3% of bodegas in East Harlem carry fresh vegetables. We need to get to the root of the problem and stop focusing on the size of a cup of soda.”
Melissa and Council Member Letitia James blogged about Bloomberg’s proposed soda ban:
There are few who would criticize Mayor Bloomberg for working towards the goal of a healthier New York. Unfortunately, there are many who would criticize Mayor Bloomberg for seeking to achieve that goal the wrong way. In fact, most New Yorkers think the so-called “soda ban”– which would prohibit the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages over 16 ounces by most food establishments — is a bad idea.
Although we stand with Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts to support New Yorkers in making healthy food choices, and recognize the city’s outrageous rates of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes — especially among communities of color — we remain deeply concerned about the proposal for the following reasons:
a. the ban, if implemented, will yield an adverse economic impact for small businesses and may result in job losses; and b. the ban would harm producers that ship soda-syrup and cups across state lines into New York, possibly violating the federal commerce clause; and c. the ban infringes on the civil liberties (choice) of New Yorkers, and may be overturned
As Melissa and Letitia go on to mention, the administration should be focusing on goals that will have a greater impact on public health than a beverage ban that might hurt small businesses. The city should be expanding youth recreation programs, school sports and open spaces, and creating programs to subsidize healthy food access and rehabilitating outdoor parks and playgrounds, as well as indoor recreational spaces that would encourage New Yorkers to exercise.
Public comment on the soda ban ends July 24, 2012, which leads us to the question – what do you think?