Food systems planning is a collaborative process among farmers, retailers, consumers, nonprofits, health systems, and government to develop priorities and implement practices that shape how regional food systems operate.
It can result in improvements like changes in food procurement at public institutions, revisions to urban gardening codes, and better access to local food, which in turn have a positive impact on food security and health. NYHealth is supporting eight food planning groups in New York State that are developing tailored regional food systems plans. The funding enables these alliances to put plans into action by hiring dedicated staff, speeding up coalition building, seeking community and resident input, and communicating to stakeholders about the positive impact of food planning on local food systems. Two of these eight groups are now ready to put their plans into action. In 2023, NYHealth awarded Adirondack Food Systems Network (AFSN) a grant to support the implementation of local food systems plans to make healthy, local food more available. NYHealth is also supporting a complementary initiative with the Rochester Food Policy Council.
Under this grant, AFSN will work to make it easier for rural areas with smaller populations to compete for funds and implement local programs. AFSN will also implement a regional outreach and enrollment plan for nutrition incentive programs like Double Up Food Bucks and Fresh Connect to maximize enrollment and efficiency. It will partner with local food producers to secure contracts with and supply food to local schools and health care institutions. In addition, AFSN will consolidate regional data from food system producers and distributors, retail locations, composters, nutrition programs, and health and funding information into an online repository to identify patterns and benchmarks and to evaluate progress.