Supporting Regional Healthy Food Systems Planning in the Southern Tier
Healthy Food, Healthy Lives
December 10, 2021
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 Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rochester Food Bank of the Southern Tier a grant to develop a formal local healthy food plan tailored to the Southern Tier and advocate for policy changes to make healthy, local, and affordable food more available to New Yorkers.
Under this grant, the Food Bank of the Southern Tier will work with partner agencies and residents most affected by food insecurity to increase community engagement and ownership. It will establish a working structure for the Broome County Food Council, which has been newly formed to address critical food access issues for residents. Food Bank of the Southern Tier will also work to expand resident participation in federal nutrition programs, such as SNAP and WIC, and child nutrition programs. Finally, relationships will be established with local elected officials to educate and engage them on local food planning issues and opportunities to increase food security in the region.
NYHealth is also supporting complementary food planning initiatives with Adirondack Health Institute, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, Equity Advocates, Good Food Buffalo Coalition, Common Ground Health, and Newburgh Urban Farm and Food Initiative.