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Policymakers acknowledge that the food system is multidimensional and that social determinants affect diet-related health outcomes, yet cities have emphasized programs and policies narrowly connected to food access and nutritional health. Over the past fifteen years, the boundaries of food governance have expanded to include a wider range of issues and domains not previously considered within the purview of food policy, like labor, housing, and education policies. This paper illustrates the processes by which this shift occurs by presenting the case of New York City, which has broadened its food governance to a larger set of issues, requiring cross-sectoral initiatives that have led to a more expansive notion of food policy. This shift has resulted from an increased political salience of income inequality and poverty, and a change in municipal leadership that led to a greater emphasis on equity and social justice. Efforts to address equity affected the food system, and in turn led to diverse policies that have expanded the boundaries of food policy. The paper traces this evolution and outlines the implications of these findings for food governance and future urban food policy development and research.


This work was originally published in Food Policy, available at



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