Governor Kathy Hochul spotlighted the State’s newly formalized Council on Hunger and Food Policy’s endeavors this Farm-to-School Month, emphasizing its vital role in fortifying New York’s food supply chain and increasing accessibility to fresh, local food. The Council, which consists of a diverse body of 25 stakeholders from government, academia, and the agricultural sector, was instituted in 2007 and only recently received its formal statute in November 2022. The group’s central mission involves proposing strategies to enhance the inclusion of local produce in school meals, ensuring food availability in marginalized areas, and bolstering the state’s agricultural sector.
Chaired by the Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets, Richard A. Ball, the Council’s renewed structure and increased participation promises a more streamlined approach to relaying recommendations to the Governor. A notable outcome of the Council’s efforts is the “30 Percent New York State Initiative,” aiming to incentivize schools to source at least 30% of their lunch ingredients from New York-based farms. This incentive has led to an increased number of school food authorities seeking reimbursement, indicating a growing interest in locally-sourced meals.
In a bid to bridge the gap between food producers and those grappling with hunger, the Council aligns its objectives with state programs such as Nourish New York, which has supplied over 75 million meals statewide. Investments from the 2023-2024 State Budget, like the Food Access Expansion Grant program, echo the Council’s aspirations, aiming to reinforce New York’s food supply chain and ensure the availability of fresh, local food to all residents. State agencies, in collaboration with federal and local bodies, continue to prioritize addressing food insecurity, emphasizing the significance of nourishing food in maintaining overall health and well-being.
FingerLakes1.com is the region’s leading all-digital news publication. The company was founded in 1998 and has been keeping residents informed for more than two decades. Have a lead? Send it to [email protected].