Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jola Szubielski, Lisa Koumjian 518-457-0752

November 07, 2016

State Agriculture Commissioner Announces Members of the New York State Council on Hunger and Food Policy

Council Will Advise State on Strategies to Combat Hunger and Improve Access to Fresh, Locally Grown Food

Builds on State’s Efforts to Extend Food Assistance to New Yorkers

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today announced the members of the New York State Council on Hunger and Food Policy, which has been created to establish a permanent focus on fighting hunger in the state. Chaired by Commissioner Ball, the Council will advise the state on strategies to address hunger needs and expand the availability of fresh, locally grown foods for New Yorkers living in communities with limited access.

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball said, “Hunger is a devastating and widespread problem across New York State and it is critical that we continue to aggressively address this problem. Through this Council, Governor Cuomo has assembled a dynamic group of people that each provide valuable experience in fighting hunger. I am thrilled to be leading this dedicated team and I look forward to continuing the important work of ensuring all New Yorkers have access to the food they need to lead healthy, full lives.”

Governor Cuomo announced the council during his State of the State address to build on the work of the Anti-Hunger Task Force and the New York State Council on Food Policy, and to further the state’s existing measures to provide food assistance to New Yorkers in need.

The Council consists of a diverse group of members who represent state and municipal agencies, academia, nonprofit organizations, and agricultural industries. Members of the New York State Council on Hunger and Food Policy include:

  • Richard Ball - Commissioner, NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets
  • Dr. Howard Zucker  - Commissioner, NYS Department of Health
  • MaryEllen Elia  -  Commissioner, NYS Department of Education
  • Howard Zemsky  - President, CEO & Commissioner, Empire State Development
  • Sam Roberts  - Commissioner, NYS Office of Temporary Disability Assistance
  • Greg Olsen  - Acting Director, NYS Office for the Aging
  • Margarette Purvis -  President & CEO, Food Bank for New York City
  • Dr. Kathryn Boor  - Dean, Cornell University’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
  • Linda Bopp  - Executive Director, Hunger Solutions NY
  • Dr. Stephen Cook  - Associate Professor, Pediatrics and Community Health University of Rochester Medicine's Golisano Children’s Hospital
  • Jeff Crist -  President, Crist Brothers Orchards
  • Randi Shubin Dresner  - President/CEO, Island Harvest
  • Tessa Edick - Executive Director, FarmOn! Foundation
  • Eric Goldstein  - CEO, NYC Department of Education, Office of School Support Services
  • Mitch Gruber  - Chief Programs Officer, Foodlink
  • Jim Liebow - Food Service Director & NYS Lead for National Farm-to-School Network, Brockport Central School District
  • Gloria McAdam -  Executive Director, GardenShare
  • Rick Naczi  - CEO, American Dairy Association and Dairy Council
  • Brian Reeves  - Owner, Reeves Farms
  • Cheryl Toor -  Executive Director, Geneva Center of Concern
  • Marcel VanOoyen -  Executive Director, GrowNYC
  • Karen Washington -  Co-owner, Rise and Root Farm
  • Jeff Williams -  Director of Public Policy, New York Farm Bureau
  • Ellie Wilson -  Senior Nutritionist, Price Chopper

The Council will work to identify new policies and programs that enhance the state’s ongoing efforts to improve nutrition and fight hunger across the State. It will focus on variety of topics, including recommending actions to: expand agricultural production and value-added processing, increase institutional purchase of local products, help farmers donate foods through food banks, increase the use of healthy and locally grown foods in school meals, and ensure all children have access to free or affordable breakfast and lunch programs, among others.

Since Governor Cuomo took office in 2011, the state has taken aggressive action to bring hunger relief to thousands of New Yorkers. Many of the programs and legislation adopted by the state strategically utilize local resources to provide greater access to healthier meal options.

In August, Governor Cuomo announced a $15 million investment to build a state-of-the-art Greenmarket Regional Food Hub in the South Bronx. The facility will enhance the connection between upstate food producers and the downstate market, increase access to fresh food for underserved populations, boost in-state food production and consumption, and create new job opportunities. 

In addition, the state has expanded the eligibility requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), providing an additional 750,000 families the opportunity to participate in the program. New York has committed $22.5 million to extend the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program (HPNAP) through 2020, and continues to provide $250,000 in grants to help child and adult care programs maximize federal funds that subsidize free, healthy meals. The state has also redesigned Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards to help reduce stigma by making the cards look more like a credit cards.

Strategic programs such as the Governor’s FreshConnect program and New York State’s Farm-to-School Program have also been expanded. Together, these programs bring farm-fresh foods to underserved communities, increase the buying power of SNAP recipients, and assist schools and other organizations buy and serve homegrown foods to students. The state has also developed procurement guidelines that the Department of Health is using to instruct state agencies on the purchase of local foods.

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, “Good nutrition is a cornerstone of good health.  This new Council will help ensure that all New Yorkers have access to affordable healthy food and promote policies that encourage healthy eating across the state.”

Empire State Development President, Commissioner & CEO Howard Zemsky said, “Hunger and food insecurity is a crisis that affects nearly three million New Yorkers. Governor Cuomo should be commended for his leadership in establishing this Council, which will work very hard to help New Yorkers access healthy, quality food.”

New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said “When children are not hungry, they can focus on learning. We already have many effective programs in place in New York State to help feed our students and the Council on Hunger and Food Policy will help improve access to these meals and expand and grow these programs. I look forward to joining with the other Council members to help fight hunger across New York State.”

New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Samuel D. Roberts said, “Governor Cuomo has taken numerous steps to expand eligibility for nutrition assistance programs like SNAP, while making it easier for those eligible to access these programs. The Council on Hunger and Food Policy will bring increased focus to fighting hunger while recognizing the important role greater availability of fresh, locally-grown foods in underserved community can play in these efforts.”

Greg Olsen, Acting Director of the New York State Office for the Aging said, “I applaud Governor Cuomo’s leadership and commitment to combating hunger for all New Yorkers. Good nutrition is the cornerstone of good health, and access to affordable and nutritional food is key to older adults aging well in their communities. I look forward to working with the other council members to further ongoing efforts to fight hunger and increase access to healthy food for all New Yorkers.”

Margarette Purvis, Vice Chair of the Council on Hunger and Food Policy and President and CEO, Food Bank For New York City said, “I commend Governor Andrew Cuomo for his leadership in advancing our State’s efforts to end hunger for all New Yorkers, and it is my honor to continue to serve the State as the Vice Chair of the New York State Council on Hunger and Food Policy. Having served as the Chair of the New York State Anti-Hunger Task Force, I had the privilege of working with dedicated experts, advocates and public servants from diverse sectors and regions of our state to produce the robust set of recommendations now given a permanent home within the fabric of the State of New York. I am proud that Governor Cuomo’s “Built to Lead” policy agenda called for the implementation of these recommendations through this new Council. It is this type of commitment that continues to put New York State at the forefront of the fight against hunger.”

Dr. Kathryn Boor, Vice Chair of the Council on Hunger and Food Policy and Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University said, “As a leader in food security for more than a century, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences applauds Governor Cuomo’s creation of the New York State Council on Hunger and Food Policy. In just over a decade, the College has donated 1.6 million pounds of produce from our farms to the Food Bank of the Southern Tier and created innovative programs, such as Farm to School Outreach, that supply the state’s school children with wholesome food. I am honored to be a part of this vital work and to share the college’s experience with the council.”

2016 Press Releases