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    DRAFT 10-1-2008

    New York State Council On Food Policy


Work Group 1: Maximize participation in food and nutrition assistance programs

    Linda Bopp (Nutrition Consortium), John Evers (Food Bank Assoc), Florence Reed (OFA rep), Jack Kennedy (OTDA rep), Willie Rapfogel (Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty), Jonathan Thomson (DAM rep); Ann McMahon (coordinator)


     More New York state residents are eligible for food and nutrition assistance programs than actually enroll in these services. Without this assistance, individuals may suffer from hunger and / or malnutrition. Hunger’s many adverse effects include a higher prevalence of chronic illness, frequent complications, and increased demands and costs for health care services. Further, hungry children experience significant and long-lasting cognitive, physical, and social delays (food bank association of new york state).

     The goal of maximizing participation in food and nutrition assistance programs serves at least three vital functions:

    1. Ensure that all residents have adequate access to nutritious foods regardless of income, culture, age, geographic region or other characteristics, and thus reduce hunger.

    2. Confirm the roll of hunger prevention programs (such as soup kitchens, food pantries, emergency shelters etc) to be a safety net that provides supplemental food security needs to residents in urgent situations.

    3. Make full use of all funds obtainable from federal assistance programs.

     One objective for the year 2009 would be to inventory and create a map / directory of the multitude of food and nutrition services available. The purpose would be to indentify where program overlap exists, where funding would be best allocated and where the gaps in services exist. This “map” would be a key

    education tool for both the advocates that provide the assistance and the individuals attempting to maneuver the food and nutrition assistance programs. Some non-food and nutrition programs may correlate as they contribute to the overall financial security of individuals (such as Home Energy Assistance Program HEAP and Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage EPIC).

     * Status reports are meant solely to aid in the NYS Council on Food Policy member’s deliberation and assessment. This document does not

    represent NYS CFP final recommendations. This is strictly meant to be a working document.


    DRAFT 10-1-2008

    For Appendix in December report if available/feasible:

    Current federal funding for food and nutrition assistance programs accessed by the state of New York is $_______ .

     List by program (example only-- data may vary)

    Program: Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program

    Responsible Agency/Organization: DOH, DAM, OFA, Farmers’ Mkt Federation

    Federal Funding: Projected $5.2 million for FFY 2009-10

    State Funding: $1 million

    Population Served: 250k WIC / 115k seniors

    Benchmark of increased participation level --- ?

    1. Increase education about assistance programs and benefits using traditional outreach strategies

    such as media / public service announcements and non-traditional outreach strategies such as in job

    placement offices, places of worship, schools, drug stores, and farmer’s markets

    a) Identify programs that already have existing federal and state funding for education and outreach

    that can be tapped into (quantify existing funding amounts)

    b) Prepare a map / directory of existing state, federal and non-profit food and nutrition assistance

    programs for future public dissemination. This clearing house will be adapted for both consumers

    and advocates. ex: Mapping the World of Nutrition

    Program examples include, but are not limited to: NOEP (Nutrition Outreach Education Program); “211”

    United Way phone information and referral system; NYS CFP 12/1/07 report Appendix C: “State Agency

    Food, Access, and Nutrition Programs” (Advocacy Outreach); Food banks/soup kitchens; CCE - Food &

    Nutrition Education in Communities (FNEC); NYConnects; Older Americans Act (nutrition education,

    counseling, and information and assistance)

    c) Develop operating procedures to ensure that staff in community based organizations, at emergency

    feeding sites, at farmers’ markets, at schools and other food and nutrition assistance programs are

    well-trained and knowledge of the variety of services (using the proposed map / directory) and that

    they have necessary resources (such as forms, signs and guides in multiple language) available

    d) Identify institutional resources (public and private) that would assist with the implementation of

    items 1a) - 1c).

    2. Encourage increased collaboration and consistency among State agencies and not-for-profits

    administering the programs by co-enrolling participants for benefits and/or making enrollment more

    user friendly


    DRAFT 10-1-2008

    a) Explore every opportunity to eliminate finger-imaging for food stamps application. OTDA:

    This has already been eliminated for working families.

    b) Explore every opportunity to allow phone interviews for food stamps application. OTDA:

    Currently this is liberally done for working families, hardship cases (such as health or transportation

    issues), and re-certification. However it is administered on a county by county basis, thus

    interpretation often differs.

    c) Explore every opportunity to simplify / streamline application forms: OTDA “My Benefits”

    program should be capable of sharing information, increase data exchange, across agencies within

    ~ 5 years. Outline this plan.

    d) Create “check list” for financial assistance packages such as the national model for seniors,

    “Benefits Checkup” or the Advocacy, Counseling, and Entitlement

    Services (ACES) Manual sponsored by Community Service Society of NY that can be adapted for all populations. Recognizing

    increased risk of hunger and diet related diseases due to lack of adequate access to affordable,

    nutritious foods, target populations include: children, seniors, and low income families and


    3. Explore options for ensuring that food assistance and emergency feeding programs have adequate quality (nutritional value) and stable quantities of resources needed to meet demands a) Collate the data that clearly documents unmet food security needs of NY residents b) Recognizing that food assistance and emergency feeding programs assist the state by

    meeting the food security needs of many residents, it is strongly encourage that a “stable”

    (consistent and guaranteed) state funding source for food assistance and emergency feeding

    programs is in place for planning purpose.

    c) Explore options for increasing funding indexed to inflation, for all government funded

    emergency food programs. For example, the state is making some funding available as COLA (cost

    of living adjustment) for some aging services such as the SNAP program…. Quantify this

    d) Explore options for providing funding and other support to food banks for the purchase of

    more local produce for distribution to residents.

    4. Increase number of markets and outlets that are capable of receiving food stamps and other food assistance currency. These efforts boost the local economy by increasing farm income while supplying access to nutritious foods to at-risk, underserved populations. As was recently noted, “Food

    stamp sales at NY farmers’ markets have increased statewide from $3,000 in 2002 to $90,000 in 2007” (Diane Eggert, Executive Director of Farmers’ Market Federation).


    DRAFT 10-1-2008

    a) Support food assistance programs and efforts that provide incentives for clients to purchase

    healthy, local foods such as Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (WIC) and Senior’s FMNP.

     Examples of projects or proposals to review, support and/or replicate include:

    ; CNY “Fresh Checks” coupon incentive program that provides food stamp customers

    with a $5.00 NY Fresh Check coupon each market day they spend a minimum of $5.00 of

    their EBT benefits at the market. Currently funded (1 yr) through the Humpty Dumpty

    Institute (2008).

    ; Provide vendor training for and permit farmers’ market vendors to accept the “Cash

    Value Vouchers” (new funding in the WIC package designated solely for the purchase of

    fruits and vegetables) at their stands.

    ; Promote universal portable Electric Benefit Transfer (EBT) technology at farmers’

    markets, grocery stores, farm stands and green carts. This increases access and reduces

    the stigma associated with using assistance benefits.


    DRAFT 10-1-2008

    Work Group 2: Strengthen the connection between local food products and consumers. Consider culture, age and geographic region of all consumers to best serve their needs.

Diane Eggert (Farmers’ Market Federation); Ray Denniston (Johnson City Schools); Fran O’Donnell (State Education

    rep); Mindy Bockstein (Consumer Protection Board); Liz Neumark (Great Performances); John Evers (Food Bank Association); Jerry Cosgrove (DAM rep); Jim Barber (DAM rep), Ann McMahon (coordinator)


     Compilation and dissemination of information by creating a centralized electronic clearinghouse is one of the first steps identified to develop a sustainable system that will strengthen the producer and consumer connection. Components of the proposed clearinghouse include, but are not limited to: current distribution models, storage and processing facilities, market locations, population studies and grower and processor profiles. The goals of this include, but are not limited to: 1) recognizing where opportunities and collaboration potential are present that will increase consumer access to local foods and 2) providing a user-friendly network that can be accessed by both consumers and by produces in a match making type service.

    The target “consumers” of year 2009 are A) institutions and B) community markets; specifically, but not exclusively, those serving children, seniors, and low-income or other food insecure populations.

    Recommendations for improving, expanding, altering infrastructure will be addressed after clearly identifying the existing “food system” framework that is in place; identifying food desserts, and establishing the capacity of New York producers and markets.

    The recommendations of Work Group 2 are complementary to and advance the objectives of Work Group 3 (Supporting efficient and profitable agriculture food production and food retail infrastructure).

A. Institution purchasing

    Create systems for local farmers to produce for state institutions and other food service programs (for example: schools, universities, nursing homes, prisons, day care centers, emergency feeding programs and government facilities).

    1. Develop an electronic database that will serve as a “clearinghouse” or directory of producers,

    processors, associations, and consumers such as the web-based “Farm-Fresh Guide” that lists nearly

    2000 farms offering food, products, and services directly to the public

    a) Database tools needed: sorting mechanism (by buyer/producer size and by regional level);

    feature for individuals to update information.


    DRAFT 10-1-2008

    b) Use regional Cornell University Cooperative Extension educators as resources to facilitate

    the communication process between producer and consumer whenever possible

    2. Explore and analyze existing storage, distribution, associations and “Market Maker” type models for


    a) Consider bulk food drop-off / distribution centers such as Food Bank trucks pick up / deliver farm

    products (example: Foodlink, Rochester)

    b) Consider association models such as: Northeast Organic Farming Association, Apple Growers

    Association; Vegetable Growers Association

    Review, analyze, comment upon legislation (proposed and existing) that relates to increasing local food products to state institution such as, but not limited to: US Senate S.3588: Healthy Food for Healthy

    Lives Act of 2008 introduced by Senator Clinton a.k.a. “Farm to Hospital”

School purchasing and child nutrition

    3. Support initiatives in schools for healthy, local food choices: look to change consumption behavior of

    youth as well as introduce youth to food system dynamics

    4. Show support for and take a leadership position to implement the Federal law in The

    Farm Bill 2008 that encourages local purchasing and allows school food service directors to specify

    geographic region for their fruits and vegetable purchases.

    Farm Bill 2008 Title IV: Nutrition Locally Produced Food - Directs Secretary to encourage

    institutions, such as schools, that receive funds from child nutrition programs to purchase

    unprocessed agricultural products, both locally grown and locally raised, to maximum extent

    practicable and appropriate. Allows use of geographic preference in procurement in all programs

    funded under NSLA, Child Nutrition Act, and DoD Fresh Program.

5. Ensure that children are receiving nutritious meals in schools

    a) Encourage school food purchases to prioritize nutritional quality of food over quantity of food

    in schools

    b) Encourage the adoption of scientifically based National Standards for schools meals. This is

    the top issue for the National School Nutrition Association. This would bring consistency throughout

    the country and consistency for food producers making more wholesome products available, at

    lower cost based on volume.


    DRAFT 10-1-2008

    c) Increase state funding for school free and reduced meal programs each by $0.15 within the

    next 3 years (State fiscal year April 2012). Quantify financial implication: existing funding per

    meal + .15 x estimated meals served

    d) Re-analyze the proposed “Healthy Schools Act”. Encourage modification that will enable

    schools to purchase more local, fresh products verses imposing unfunded mandates on schools.

    School nutrition programs are facing increased operating cost and food cost creating a very

    challenging financially position. Unfunded mandates raise concern that schools may have to choose

    to decrease the quality of and quantity of programs.

Compare side by side the “Healthy Schools Act” (A.8698 ) to the “Local Farms-Healthy Kids Act” (SB

    6483; enacted June 2008) from the state of Washington. Among other things, the “Local Farms-Healthy

    Kids Act” eliminates the lowest cost bid requirements for schools purchasing local food and allows price preferences for local purchases.

e) Increase opportunities (producer incentives) for nutritious NY added value (“grab and go”

    prepackaged) foods to be available such as carrot coins, grapes, broccoli cuts, pears and apple

    slices in schools.

    6. Assemble, disseminate and encourage adoption/utilization of documents that will support purchasing of fresh, local products at schools such as:

    a) “Safe Handling Procedures” to food service directors for fresh produce

    b) “Produce Specification Guide” with sizing standards to food service directors for ordering

    c) “Directory” of producers and distributors regionally for food service directors

    d) “Good Agricultural Practices” (GAP) and “Good Handling Practices” (GHP) for producers

    7. Continue to pursue and expand participation in USDA federally funded programs such as the “Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Program” (FF&VP).

    - Current FF&VP funding is going to approximately 50 elementary and secondary schools in NYS. Schools receive federal funds to purchase domestically grown fresh fruits and vegetables to be served separately from meal programs. Participating schools are encouraged to expand their nutrition education programs. This program will provide an additional serving of fresh fruit or fresh vegetables to over 26,700 children in NYS. Quantify financial implication: federal dollars brought into NYS through program and federal dollars used to purchase local, fresh foods


    DRAFT 10-1-2008

    8. Support the establishment of a children’s health database that components would include,

    but are not limited to: ___

    Example: Cornell University’s project proposal: “Impact of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program

    on Children’s Preferences and Food Service in New York State Public Schools” (pre/post study

    currently seeking funding from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation by Jennifer Wilkins).

    9. Compile, review and promote existing programs that introduce youth to food system dynamics.

    Examples: school gardens; Ag in the Classroom; FF&VP; Farm to School; and Kindergarten Initiative

    (Food Trust). Considering that classroom time is limited; most successful programs should be

    incorporated into existing approved curriculum and/or carried out into community activities.

B. Community Purchasing

    1. Collect the models of community food security initiatives and networks; perform an evaluation of

    the results; find means for promoting regional and/or statewide replication of successful models 2. Compile and categorize initiatives; create state and regional directory thereof for public


    3. Recommend support for infrastructure development and/or increase funding of programs such

    as community gardens, urban gardening, community supported agriculture (CSA) that keep local

    dollars in the economy and address the issue of food desserts by providing a means for purchasing

    fresh fruit and vegetable

    - In July 2008, Dept of Agriculture & Markets announced the Community Gardens

    Capacity-Building Grants Program. Grants of approximately $5,000 each will fund efforts to

    develop gardening programs in urban low-income communities.

    4. Encourage more permanent farmers’ markets in more neighborhoods; adjust times and days to

    accommodate work schedules; assist with solving transportation issues to markets

    a) Transportation to farmers’ markets for underserved populations is typically organized

    through individual entities such as Housing Authority or Senior Center administration. Increasing

    coordination between transportation authorities, market managers and/or underserved populations

    is encouraged. Access to farmers’ markets may be increased by manner of adding a bus stop on an

    existing line near a market; and/or encouraging new markets to locate near existing bus stops.

    b) Farmers’ Market Federation provides training in relation to appropriate market days and

    times. Continued incorporation of community feedback is encouraged.


    DRAFT 10-1-2008

    New York State Council On Food Policy


    Work Group 3: Support efficient and profitable agricultural food production and food retail infrastructure

    Julie Suarez (Farm Bureau); Bruce Both (United Food and Commercial Workers Union); Ellie Wilson (Price Chopper Dietitian); Mike Hoffmann (Cornell Agriculture and Life Science rep); Senator Catharine Young; Empire State Development, Jerry Cosgrove (DAM rep), Jim Barber (DAM rep); Ann McMahon (coordinator)


    Attention is devoted to identifying the needs and capacity of NY producers. Assessing grant funding options and accessing those funds for infrastructure is encouraged. Recommendations that acknowledge New York producers’ size, crop diversity and regional capacity are to be considered.

    1. Expand “buy local” partnerships within the food industry to meet demand for local preference

    such as “Pride of New York” program and other regional efforts.

    a) Expand producer affiliation with Pride of NY program through expanding membership; track

    expanded participation through measurement of farmer participants

    b) Create a synergy between Pride of NY and the buy local movement through Department of

    Agriculture and Markets marketing plans, private industry initiatives, and greater ties to the I Love

    NY program.

    2. Address ways to improve production, distribution and marketing of, and increase demand for, NYS food


    a) Provide farmer and producer educational opportunities, technical assistance and financial

    assistance to enable them to perform “best practices” as they pertain to food safety measures

    b) Work with identified federal funding sources to encourage the adoption of Good Agricultural

    Practices (GAP) certification among the farm community (Eurogap, etc.)

    c) Step 1: Clearly identify industry needs. Perform inventory and analysis of facilities that include, but

    are not limited to: cold storage facilities; grower cooperatives; processing facilities; distribution

    centers; food-related micro-enterprises and/or incubator kitchens.

    Status reports are meant solely to aid in the NYS Council on Food Policy member’s deliberation and assessment. This document does

    not represent NYS CFP final recommendations. This is strictly meant to be a working document.


    DRAFT 10-1-2008

    (1) Support retail initiatives such as Healthy Bodegas, Green Carts, and infrastructure initiatives

    such as the revitalization of Hunt’s Point Terminal Market, NYC Wholesale Farmers’ Market

    for the restaurant / small scale retailers trade, and regional markets

    (2) Research Food Bank distribution/storage infrastructure to see if it is appropriate for small to

    medium farm operations

    (3) Consider initiatives such as: Vermont Agency of Agriculture’s mobile quick-freezing unit that

    allows farmers to freeze up to 600 pounds of berries and produce a minute, thus extending

    the marketing period and reducing waste

    d) Step 2: Identify existing grant programs such as: USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Funds; Farm

    Viability Grants; NYS ESDC Agriculture Development Funds which are most important for

    addressing needs identified in Step 1.

    3. Keep a positive business climate in New York by addressing obstacles to and methods for easing food and agriculture business development in NYS such as: tax and regulatory burdens; land and energy input costs; and labor demands.

    a) Support comprehensive immigration reform that includes overhaul of the guest worker (H-2a)

    program and incorporates key features of the Ag Jobs Bill such as earned adjustment to legal

    status for experienced agricultural workers and a solution to the dairy agriculture labor issues. b) Encourage initiatives for new and beginning farmers; and the expansion/growth opportunities for

    established farmers seeking new added value and expanded agricultural operations. c) Maintain existing tax credit programs for farmers and seek changes to the Empire State

    Development Corporation programs that will ensure agriculture is fully eligible for all economic

    development and small business assistance using metrics that recognize the full range of benefits

    that agriculture provides and eliminate unnecessary paperwork.

    d) Streamline regulatory burdens by identifying duplicate federal, state, and local inspection processes. e) Maintain full support for agricultural districts program, which is critical for the preservation of

    farmland and farms in New York. Increase farmland protection funding and planning assistance, to

    meet demand and fully integrate farmland protection into the State’s Smart Growth efforts and the

    NYS Open Space Conservation Plan.

    f) Compile information regarding agricultural programs and institutions, particularly business planning

    and financing entities, and make such information readily accessible on the Department of

    Agriculture and Markets website.


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