The Urban School Food Alliance is pleased to have the support of an advisory board– a diverse group of leaders and professionals to bring their unique knowledge, skill sets and experiences to the Alliance and its mission. Members of the advisory board volunteer their time to provide valuable input and technical expertise to help the Alliance champion important initiatives to serve the health and wellness of students.
We recently had an opportunity to talk with our advisory board members about their backgrounds and why they decided to collaborate with the Alliance. Through a series of “Advisory Board Spotlight,” we’d like to introduce you to members of this dedicated group– beginning with the advisory board chairman, Mark Izeman.
Mark A. Izeman, New York Regional Director & Senior Attorney at Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
Over Mark’s 30-year environmental law and advocacy career at NRDC, he has spearheaded numerous campaigns, litigation efforts, and strategic initiatives on issues including food, fossil fuels, recycling, drinking water and transportation. Mark also spent three years in Moscow, Russia working for NRDC on climate change and energy efficiency issues. More importantly, he’s proud that his two sons attended the public-school system in NYC.
Why do you want to work with the Urban School Food Alliance?
As a partner of the Alliance since its launch in 2012, we at NRDC view this group as the best opportunity in this country to transform the quality and sustainability of school food — all in an effort to support the most economically disadvantaged kids in our largest cities.
What experiences and special skill sets do you have from which the Alliance can benefit most?
We believe NRDC can continue to best help the Alliance in two key ways. First, we can provide environmental expertise to support its large, joint procurements – for example, how to source chicken raised without antibiotics, or compostable trays and utensils. And second, NRDC can assist the Alliance at the local, state and national levels in advancing legal and policy reforms.
What are you most excited about for the future of the Alliance?
The kids! Alliance districts have made incredible strides in providing kids access to healthy meals in their cities —including breakfast after the bell or free or reduced-priced meals. We know that for so many children in Alliance and other cities, school meals are often where they consume the majority of their food every day. Moving forward, we are excited to help the Alliance build on this work by providing more appealing, healthier, culturally relevant and sustainably and locally produced food to millions of kids each day.
What new or upcoming events, or initiatives is your organization working on that align with the mission of the Alliance?
NRDC now has major new initiatives devoted to eliminating the most toxic pesticides and encouraging organic agriculture; moving toward more climate-friendly and plant-based menus; working to reduce food waste; and ending the misuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture. We believe this work dovetails nicely with the Alliance’s mission to provide healthier and more sustainable food to our kids.