HomeRegional StatewideGovernor Praises Work of Council on HungerGovernor Praises Work of Council on HungerFri, October 20, 2023 by Lucas Day SHARE NOW Photo by form PxHere The work of the State’s revitalized Council on Hunger and Food Policy, which was recently formalized in statute and officially charged by the Governor to provide recommendations to the State on ways to increase the use of healthy and locally grown foods in school meals, expand food access to underserved communities, and boost agricultural production and processing, was recognized by the Kathy Hochul on Friday. New York’s Council on Hunger and Food Policy is made up of 25 stakeholders and several affiliates including representatives from government entities, farmers, not-for-profit organizations, agricultural operations, universities, and food businesses. The Council works to provide state policymakers with expertise on how to address hunger and improve access to healthy, locally grown food for New York State residents and school children. Previously operating under Executive Order since its establishment in 2007, Governor Hochul signed a into law a bill codifying the Council in November 2022. The Council is committed to increasing the use of healthy and locally grown foods in school meals. With these priorities, the Council was critical during the establishment of the State’s 30 Percent New York State Initiative, which is intended to provide healthy New York sourced food products to children as part of their lunch meal in school. The initiative increases the reimbursement schools receive for lunches from 5.9 cents per meal to 25 cents per meal for any district that purchases at least 30 percent ingredients for their school lunch program from New York farms. Since the Department of Agriculture and Markets took over administration of the program as part of Governor Hochul’s 2022 State of the State commitment to better connect farms and schools across New York, the program has seen increased participation from school food authorities, with a total of 59 school food authorities approved for reimbursement during this school year, up from 51 approved for reimbursement last year. The 30 Percent NYS Initiative builds on New York’s successful Farm-to-School program, which connects schools with local farms and food producers to strengthen local agriculture, improve student health, and promote regional food systems awareness. Through the program, the Department provides financial, technical, and promotional assistance to schools, farms, distributors, and other supporting organizations to bring more local, nutritious, seasonally-varied meals to New York students. The Farm-to-School program supports the Council’s priorities to initiate and facilitate public awareness campaigns about the economic benefits of a local farm and food economy; alleviate geographic and economic barriers to improve access to healthy fresh food; and promote well-balanced child nutrition. “While we have emerged from the immediate crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, its effects are lasting, including the need for our families, schools, and communities to access enough fresh, local foods,” Governor Hochul said. “Through New York’s Council on Hunger and Food Policy and other innovative programs aimed at alleviating food insecurity stress and streamlining our food supply chain, we can make a difference to combat hunger and improve nutrition across the State, while supporting our agricultural community at the same time.” New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball said, “We work hard year-round to raise awareness of food insecurity and renew our commitment to ensuring that all New Yorkers have access to nutritious, local food. The Council on Hunger and Food Policy has been instrumental in forging relationships that have been the foundation of several successful feeding programs and farm-to-school initiatives, and we are excited to have the group back together with new, focused priorities, under Governor Hochul’s direction. By formalizing the Council’s role in the State’s work to address hunger while supporting our farmers, we can further build on our work in this area and continue to strengthen the food system.” Get the top stories on your radio 24/7 on Finger Lakes News Radio 96.3 and 1590, WAUB and 106.3 and 1240, WGVA, and on Finger Lakes Country, 96.1/96.9/101.9/1570 WFLR.