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Bloomberg, Thomases Forging Ahead with City's Heath Agenda

Kim Severson profiles Mayor Bloomberg and his Heath Department Head, Benjamin Thomases, in this week's above-the-fold Dining section feature, providing an overview of the Mayor's ambitious and aggressive heath agenda. As we've known, the Mayor has a serious stance on how New Yorkers should eat and think about food. Some of his initiatives have already been put into effect (such as his bans on smoking and trans fats), but there is still plenty to come.

Perhaps the biggest statement Mayor Bloomberg has made about food policy came in the form of a hire. In January, Benjamin Thomases, 31, a New Yorker who holds an MBA from Columbia University, became the first official charged with coordinating the city’s policies on food.

“This is a very important moment for the city,” said City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, a Greenmarket regular who has a strong following among New York health and food advocacy groups and who pressed the mayor for the position...

“I prefer not to think of myself as the food czar,” said Mr. Thomases, who is making $85,000 a year, a figure that some in City Hall say would be higher if the position held more power.

Rather, his job is to make some sense of the myriad ways the city feeds people. He will be the glue that helps hold it together, said Linda I. Gibbs, the deputy mayor under whom Mr. Thomases serves. His main mechanism will be an interdepartmental food policy task force, which had its first meeting in February. He has also reached out to groups outside government, including large food manufacturers as well as the New York City Food Systems Network, an informal nexus for people who work in hunger, nutrition, agriculture and other food-related endeavors.

The Times has the rest of the story. Bottom line: the mayor will have us eating better, even if it kills him.
· Farewell, French Fries! Hello, Sliced Apples! [NYT]

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