Food Bank of the Southern Tier

Food systems planning is a collaborative process among farmers, retailers, consumers, nonprofits, health systems, and government to develop priorities and implement policies and practices that shape how local or regional food systems operate. Benefits of food planning include improving food procurement at public institutions, supporting local retail food businesses, and strengthening outreach and enrollment in benefits programs. NYHealth has supported eight food planning groups—including the Food Bank of the Southern Tier (FBST)—to develop tailored regional food systems plans; FBST is now poised to turn its plan into action. In 2024, NYHealth awarded FBST a grant to implement Broome County’s food access plan, grow advocacy and education campaigns, and expand planning efforts to additional counties.

Under this grant, FBST will integrate food access into Broome County’s countywide transportation plan and increase use of nutrition benefits like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at farmers markets. It will also expand its work beyond Broome County, coordinating food planning activities with other counties in the region and advocating for statewide policy change to expand access to healthy foods.

Southern Tier Health Care System

While the prime responsibility of EMS providers is to stabilize patients in crisis and transport them to the hospital, community paramedicine enhances their role to include community-based health care delivery—allowing them to respond to chronic disease management and quality-of-life issues without diverting resources away from emergency medical services.

This type of in-home service is needed, especially in rural areas of New York State like the Southern Tier. Older adults comprise close to 20% of the State’s population, and the number of older New Yorkers living below the poverty line increased by 37% over the past decade. In rural health care shortage areas with insufficient health care providers and facilities, residents often encounter long travel times, a lack of transportation options, and extended appointment wait times. In the Southern Tier, these barriers have led to higher emergency department use and calls to 911 for non-urgent needs. In 2024, NYHealth awarded Southern Tier Health Care System (STHCS) a grant to develop and test a community paramedicine program to provide at-home health services and coordinate care with local providers in the Southern Tier.

Under this grant, STHCS will lay the groundwork for the paramedicine program, identifying patients who would benefit from coordinated and continuous care outside of a hospital setting and deploying trained community paramedics. Once dispatched to a home, the paramedics will assess each patient’s basic physical, mental, and emotional health; conduct non-medical health screenings; and facilitate primary care and social services referrals. With guidance from the patient’s medical provider, the paramedics will review patients’ medication lists, reconcile discrepancies, and provide education on proper medication usage, potential side effects, and the importance of adhering to prescribed regimens. The paramedics will also offer personalized education on self-monitoring and disease management techniques and participate in workshops and community education events to raise awareness about common health issues, prevention, and available community resources. STHCS will collect and analyze data on program activities, patient outcomes, and resource utilization to assess the program’s impact, identify areas for improvement, and support an ongoing funding model.


Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rochester, dba Food Bank of the Southern Tier

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, dba 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 worked with partner agencies and residents most affected by food insecurity to increase community engagement and ownership. It established a working structure for the Broome County Food Council, which had been newly formed to address critical food access issues for residents. Food Bank of the Southern Tier also worked to expand resident participation in federal nutrition programs, such as SNAP and WIC, and child nutrition programs. Finally, relationships were 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 also supported 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.

Food Bank of the Southern Tier

In a state as large as New York, a steady stream of smart, innovative work is coming from NYHealth grantees and non-grantees alike that is relevant to NYHealth’s priority areas of Building Healthy Communities and Empowering Health Care Consumers and its focus area on Veterans’ Health. These organizations should be elevating their work and informing key stakeholders at regional, statewide, and national conferences, meetings, and other convenings. Yet, because of a lack of resources, they are often unable to do so. To address this issue, NYHealth is awarding grants through its Sponsoring Conference Participation in Support of Healthy Communities, Consumer Empowerment, and Veterans’ Health Request for Proposals (RFP). Through this RFP, NYHealth is sponsoring low-resource organizations to attend and present at local, State, and national conferences related to these areas. In 2019, NYHealth awarded the Food Bank of the Southern Tier a grant to participate in this initiative as part of its efforts to build healthy communities.

Under this grant, the Food Bank of the Southern Tier sent two staff members to attend the Closing the Hunger Gap conference. This conference addressed how systematic inequities, such as health disparities and food scarcity, are directly related to the health of communities. The conference specifically examined the impact of race and racism and how they can be understood as a social determinant of health. Conference participants attended multiple field trips to learn about innovative programs and locations such as urban farms, Soul City (a city built for and steered by African Americans), and Native American farms. Attending the conference helped the Food Bank of the Southern Tier understand health disparities and become better equipped to build sustainable communities with open access to nutritious foods.

View a complete list of conference participation grantees.