Friday, January 29, 2010

New York State’s Council on Food Policy Underscores Power of Collaboration in Report to Gov. Patterson

I spent the last few days getting up the learning curve on the New York State's Council on Food Policy's 2009 report to Governor Patterson to write an article for the Food Systems Network NYC's February newsletter (check it out below).

I have to say it was a good exercise and made me realize that the the NYS CFP is the closest thing to a "Department of Food" that New York State has and which is frankly a lot more than New York City can say despite the acceleration of good work that's being championed by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer the past 18 months (and more recently City Council Speaker Christine Quinn).

Cross-posted at Food Systems Network NYC

Food policy cuts across a multitude of diverse city, state and federal government agencies that often have specific food related goals but, by virtue of each agency’s mission, often lacks a collaborative food systems approach to agriculture, and food-related economic, infrastructure, environmental and health issues.

In 2007, by gubernatorial executive order, New York joined several other state governments in establishing a Council on Food Policy (NYS CFP) that brings together state agencies and a group of high-level non-governmental stakeholders to collaborate on important food issues and make policy recommendations.

Several weeks ago, the NYS CFP, which is comprised of seven state agency heads and 14 public and non-profit sector representatives, presented its third annual progress report and recommendations to Governor David Patterson “Making Connections: Developing a Food System for a Healthier New York State”. The 2009 report outlines the strategic framework established in 2007 for the NYS CFP which is to preserve and enhance agriculture, food and production and ensure access to safe, affordable, fresh and nutritious food.

The recommendations to the governor summarize the work of the NYS CFP and formal and informal input received from organizations and citizens in the City, including several Food Systems NYC Network members who testified at listening sessions, Upstate and on Long Island across four strategic issue areas:

• greater participation in food and nutrition programs
• strengthening the connection between food producers and consumers
• improving the food production and retail infrastructures
• improving consumer access to safe and nutritious foods

A few highlights from 2009 impact a significant number of New York City residents and include:

• New York State’s leadership in allowing WIC mothers to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets not just supermarkets
• Significant progress on the coordination of state and city agencies to rebuild the Hunts Point Produce Market in the Bronx
• A dramatically improved supply chain infrastructure that allowed farmers to donate over 7 million pounds of fresh produce to New Yorkers in need

According to the remarks the Council members have “exponentially increased their working networks” since commencement of the council. And, enthusiastically, the Council’s 2009 report claims that “the most remarkable progress is the ever increasing coordination of efforts and ideas across the spectrum of food systems initiatives”.

Households and businesses across New York State are impacted by the policies and programs recommended by the NYS CFP. Their 2009 report include dozens of examples of multi-agency and public and private organizations working together to build coalitions, generate ideas and implement creative solutions.

For a copy of the 2009 (as well as 2008 and 2007) reports and appendices, please visit the NYS CFP website.

No comments: