Healthy Food, Healthy Lives

Project Title

Supporting Regional Healthy Food Systems Planning in the North Country

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Healthy Food, Healthy Lives

Date Awarded

December 10, 2021


North Country




A core strategy for improving health and food security is developing and implementing local food systems plans that reflect regional and local circumstances, strengths, and deficits.

Local food systems plans tackle issues such as: engaging health care systems to advocate for and provide healthier institutional food; starting new farmers markets and urban farms; changing zoning to allow the establishment of new supermarkets and other food access points; strengthening farm-to-school programs; expanding nutrition assistance programs; establishing or scaling local food hubs; and educating government officials and community members about what the food system is and why it is important. Most local planning groups are run by volunteers and are loosely organized. Full-time dedicated staff and organizational structure are needed to accelerate and improve the development of local food systems plans. In 2021, NYHealth awarded Adirondack Health Institute (AHI) a grant to develop a formal local healthy food plan tailored to the North Country and advocate for policy changes to make healthy, local, and affordable food more available to New Yorkers.

Under this grant, AHI formalized and expanded its regional and local food planning group and codified its food systems plan. It leveraged relationships with farms and distributors, regional community-based social service providers, and school and health care providers among nine counties to create a cohort for collective action and collaboration. These stakeholders developed a plan for meeting the needs of the region’s food-insecure residents. AHI established measurable objectives and data collection mechanisms that was used to make the case for program expansion and replication as well as ensure long-term sustainability of plans. Measures and resources was shared and compared with other local and regional food plans across the State. AHI also piloted farm-to-school and farm-to-hospital initiatives to support local farmers and connect students and individuals recently discharged from hospitals with healthy food.

NYHealth is also supporting complementary food planning initiatives with Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rochester Food Bank of the Southern Tier, Common Ground Health, Equity Advocates, Good Food Buffalo Coalition, and Newburgh Urban Farm and Food.