Addressing Environmental Challenges Through Food Policy

Cities can mitigate climate change and address local environmental challenges through policies that procure and serve food produced sustainably, improve food distribution efficiency, encourage resource-conserving urban agriculture, and minimize and recycle food waste. A key strategy is breaking down administrative silos that have separated food from policies aimed at ecological resilience.

The Institute works to promote integrated food planning, goals-based food purchasing, robust and equitable regional food systems, and ecologically sound urban farming to reduce the environmental impact of urban food systems and enable cities to be more resilient to a changing climate.


The Food Energy Water (FEW) Meter project is a three-year community-based study of the environmental and social impacts of urban agriculture in New York and four European cities. Through life cycle assessment, surveys of gardeners and farmers, and policy analysis, we developed strategies to promote resource-efficient urban food production.


  • Urban gardeners and farmers in five cities
  • Colleagues at the University of Kent
  • University of Michigan
  • Adam Mickiewicz University
  • University Gustave Eiffel-IRSTV
  • ILS Research Institute for Regional and Urban Development

The Institute has provided technical support to advance a Good Food Purchasing Policy in New York City that prioritizes health, animal welfare, worker rights, regional economies, and sustainable production.


  • Center for Good Food Purchasing
  • Community Food Advocates
  • Mayor’s Office of Food Policy

The Institute has worked with GrowNYC to evaluate several programs designed to support sustainable regional agriculture, including a survey of Greenmarket farmers to assess their adoption of carbon-efficient agricultural practices; an evaluation of a program to sell regionally produced grains; and a low-cost food box program in the South Bronx to provide inexpensive regionally-grown produce to low-income residents. We have also helped the Bed Stuy Restoration Corporation identify strategies to facilitate procurement of locally-grown produce in their childcare facilities.


  • GrowNYC
  • Bed Stuy Restoration