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This urban food policy forum focuses on cities, disaster response and community resiliency in times of crisis. Specifically, the forum will illuminate a discussion about the following questions:

  1. How have inherent strengths and weakness in urban food systems manifested during times of crisis?
  2. What are the legacy and lessons from past urban food system disruptions and how can they inform dealing with current and future crises, including COVID-19?
  3. What are the social, economic, and political barriers to effectively using lessons from food system disruptions of the past to change the status quo toward greater equity and resilience?

Guest speakers include scholars, government officials, and practitioners from New York and other cities who have studied or been directly involved in disaster response plans and initiatives in the context of major national or international crises (e.g., the Great Depression, the 1980s HIV/AIDS epidemic, the 2008 Great Recession, Superstorm Sandy and climate change risks more broadly).


  • Kim Kessler, Assistant Commissioner for the Bureau of Chronic Disease Prevention and Tobacco Control at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, member of the New York City COVID-19 Food Czar team, and former Food Policy Coordinator for the City of New York
  • Holly Freishtat, Food Policy Director, Baltimore Food Policy Initiative, Department of Planning
  • Barbara Emanuel, Former Manager of the Toronto Food Strategy, Toronto Public Health, City of Toronto


Nicholas Freudenberg, Distinguished Professor of Public Health at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy and Director of the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute

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