Supporting Regional Healthy Food Systems Planning in the Hudson Valley
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 Newburgh Urban Farm and Food Initiative (NUFFI) a grant to develop a formal local healthy food plan tailored to the Hudson Valley and advocate for policy changes to make healthy, local, and affordable food more available to New Yorkers.
Under this grant, NUFFI will create community stakeholder partnerships that include representatives from food pantries and soup kitchens, farmers, and individuals who produce and deliver food to feeding programs. It will conduct a food access audit to collect data about food insecurity in Newburgh and whether food-insecure residents are able to meet their nutritional needs through current resources such as food pantries, supermarkets, and SNAP/EBT. Information will be collected about current food access issues related to production, distribution, processing, public health, environmental impact, and social/racial equity in Newburgh. The audit will then be used to create action plans to reduce food insecurity, food waste, and other gaps in the region’s local food system.
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 Adirondack Health Institute.