Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jessica Ziehm

April 07, 2011

New York Receives $2.3 Million to Help End Hunger

USDA Awards 4 NY Communities with Funds to Increase Food Access, Improve Nutrition

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded four grants totaling $2.3 million to four New York communities to help them end hunger by increasing food access and improving nutrition in low-income households. 
            “We are so fortunate to have such a robust agriculture industry in our state, producing nutritious and affordable food,” the Commissioner said.  “At the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, we are constantly striving to strengthen the connection between our producers and our community members to address food insecurity, hunger and diet-related diseases, which is clearly a priority of the Governor as well. We commend all those involved in this effort and stand ready to assist.”

New York was one of eight states to receive funding from USDA that was authorized by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008.  New York received nearly half of the total funding allotted, $4.98 million.  The grants will fund the development and implementation of plans to help communities expand access to healthy food through increased participation in federal nutrition programs and other creative initiatives that meet a community's unique needs.  The four New York projects that were awarded include:

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “The Hunger-Free Communities Grants underscore the administration's priorities to both end hunger and promote healthier diets for every American.  Our valued state and community partners are uniquely positioned to create and implement sustainable solutions to ending hunger.”
A total of 14 projects were awarded by USDA.  The funds are to be used for research, planning, and activities designed to improve access to nutrition assistance for those in need.  Following are the four New York projects that received funding.

  • United Way of New York City - $2,000,000

Of the 8.3 million people living in New York City proper, over 1.55 million live below the federal poverty line, with numbers steadily increasing. The United Way of New York City plans to partner with the New York City Hunger Free Communities Consortium to implement its proposed plan, which has a particular focus on aiding the especially vulnerable populations of households with children, working poor, and senior citizens. The project involves creating and implementing a comprehensive outreach plan to increase participation in government and private nutrition assistance and anti-poverty programs; improving the referral network to free food resources; engaging in outreach to promote participation in school breakfast; and creating a New York City Food Policy Council.

Niagara County has a population of approximately 215,000 and covers 523 square miles. Preliminary data collected suggests a significant need, but one that is unquantifiable and thus difficult to understand or address. This project will survey a representative sampling of the County’s population to assess the extent of hunger; utilize focus groups to delve into the causes of hunger; map out existing services in the county to identify gaps and potential opportunities; evaluate the availability and accessibility of healthy foods; and lastly, examine the local food production and distribution system in order to determine the flow of locally-produced products.

Utica and its metropolitan statistical area were identified in the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal’s 2009 “Mohawk Valley Regional Report” as one of the poorest of New York State’s cities.  Primary deliverables for the project include an analysis of the extent and causes of hunger in the community and a plan to achieve a hunger-free community within the Utica/Oneida County foodshed area.  Specifically, they will convene a Food Policy Working Group to establish preliminary goals, membership, and target outcomes for its first year of operation.  The working group will serve as the coordinator of research and associated outreach activities, and a food policy council will be formalized based upon the initial operations, methods, intentions, and membership of the Working Group. 

Poughkeepsie is a riverfront city of nearly 30,000 residents in the Hudson Valley, a two hour commuter train ride from New York City.  Preliminary data suggests a significant project need.  The planned assessment of food security will document the extent of hunger in the community and analyzes its causes, outlining how the community’s food systems operate, how residents access nutritious food in Poughkeepsie, how food insecure residents make decisions about what to eat and what constrains those choices.

Commissioner Aubertine heads up the Governor’s New York State Council on Food Policy.  The mission of the Council is to develop food policies that will increase access to affordable, nutritious, local and safe food for all New Yorkers and to protect and expand agricultural production in the state. The Council on Food Policy has realized some real and significant results since inception in 2007, and provided letters of support for many of the proposed projects from New York.  Specifically, the Council has worked on increasing food access by lower-income consumers at farmer’s markets, developing food stores in underserved communities, and increasing procurement of local, nutritious foods at schools. For further information about the Council’s initiatives and recommendations, please visit

In 2009, over 50 million individuals in the United States, or 16.6% of the population, lived in food insecure households. Children are most at risk. During the same time frame, over 17 million children lived in food insecure households. These homes had difficulty providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of resources at some time during the year. The anti-hunger initiatives announced today, along with the Stakeholder Guide to Ending Childhood Hunger recently published on USDA's Food and Nutrition Service website, are all tools to help individuals and families put food on the table.

            In New York, reports indicate more than 2.5 million people were living in poverty in 2009, or 14.2 percent of our total population. Approximately 12.4 percent of all households were food insecure in New York and 14.8 percent of our children under the age of 18 are food insecure.

2011 Press Releases