Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the creation of the New York State Anti-Hunger Task Force, which will bring together experts, advocates and state and local officials to develop and implement action-focused recommendations to combat hunger and improve access to locally grown and produced fresh foods.
"The New York State Anti-Hunger Task Force will be a key resource and tool in our ongoing efforts to eliminate hunger in New York," Governor Cuomo said. "By bringing experts, officials and advocates to the same table, we can enhance the effectiveness of our fight against hunger by better coordinating the significant public and private resources already dedicated to this important issue. Hunger in New York is a long-term problem that cannot be solved in a matter of weeks, so this Task Force is the right step towards developing lasting solutions to increase access to food for those in need and build healthier and more prosperous communities. In the 21st century, it is simply intolerable that one million New York children are going to bed hungry and so many households are struggling to put food on the table. I thank the members of the Task Force for their dedication and service."
Nearly 14% of New York households struggle with hunger, and at least 1 million New York children live in households that do not have regular and consistent access to food. Yet nearly 1 in 4 New Yorkers who are eligible for food stamps do not receive them.
The Anti-Hunger Task Force will develop strategies to:
Maximize resources to fight hunger in New York State by increasing participation in federally funded programs like SNAP, school breakfast and school lunch;
Use public/private partnerships to increase outreach and leverage the power of government, businesses and the non-profit sectors working together; and
Improve access to quality, healthy food through the use of New York farm products and locally produced goods to combat hunger while creating jobs and supporting economic development.
The Anti-Hunger Task Force will be chaired by Margarette Purvis, President & CEO of the Food Bank of New York City, and will include experts in hunger and nutrition, anti-hunger advocates, service providers, representatives of the agriculture industry, local government and education officials, representatives of the non-profit and private sectors, and members of the Governor's Cabinet.
Margarette Purvis, President & CEO of Food Bank For New York City, said, "I thank Governor Cuomo for this appointment and for his leadership on this important issue. Since the Great Recession, hunger has reached unprecedented levels in our state and city. Recent cuts to the vital food resources the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides low-income New Yorkers makes this a time of particularly urgent need. In forming this Anti-Hunger Task Force, Governor Cuomo's leadership will provide an excellent opportunity to meet this moment by marshalling our state's resources to strengthen New York's response to hunger and shore up our safety net."
Billy Shore, Share Our Strength Founder and CEO, said, "The Anti-Hunger Task Force is a critical step forward in making sure the children of New York State have healthy food every day. We stand ready to work with the Governor and others to give voice to our most vulnerable children, and to ensure that no kid goes hungry in New York."
Joel Berg, Executive Director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, said, "I am honored be participate in this vital task force. Governor Cuomo clearly understands that fighting hunger benefits all state residents by improving health, creating jobs, boosting education, reducing poverty, aiding local farmers, and increasing economic opportunity. Last year, Governor Cuomo made it easier for working families and seniors to access federal nutrition benefits by eliminating the wasteful and punitive system of finger imaging program applicants while implementing better ways to strength program integrity. I look forward to working with the task force to build upon that success through a multi-faceted public/private effort to fight hunger and improve nutrition statewide."
Linda Bopp, Executive Director of Hunger Solutions New York, said, "Hunger is an unacceptable and preventable reality for countless New Yorkers. In fact, more than 17 percent of New Yorkers struggle to afford enough food every day. Governor Cuomo continues to show strategic leadership when it comes to understanding and taking the steps to alleviate hunger. The focused and coordinated efforts of his Anti-Hunger Task Force will move us all closer to our shared goal of no one going to bed hungry."
Members of the New York State Anti-Hunger Task Force include:
Margarette Purvis, President & CEO, Food Bank of New York City (chair)
Richard Ball, Owner, Schoharie Valley Farms
Joel Berg, Executive Director, New York City Coalition Against Hunger
Kathryn Boor, Dean, Cornell University College of Agriculture & Life Sciences
Linda Bopp, Executive Director, NYS Hunger Solutions
Richard Buery, President & CEO, Children's Aid Society
Bill Cartier, President, Sysco Foods Albany
Stephen Cook, Professor, University of Rochester Medical Center
Patricia Daley-Jimenez, President, NY School Nutrition Association
Ray Denniston, Co-Chair, Broome-Tioga BOCES Food Service (Farm to School)
Kathleen Donahue, Vice President, NYSUT
Maureen Donahue, Superintendent, Southwestern Central School District (Jamestown)
Diane Eggert, Executive Director, Farmers Market Federation of New York
Beth Finkel, Executive Director, AARP New York
Kathy Goldman, Co-Director, Community Food Advocates
Harvey Lawrence, President & CEO, Brownsville Multi-Service Family Health Center
Mark Quandt, President, Food Bank Association of New York State
Raul Russi, CEO, Acacia Network
David Sutkowy, Commissioner, Onondaga County Department of Social Services
James Rogers, President & CEO, Food Industry Alliance
Laurie Tisch, President, Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund
James Tomarken, Commissioner, Suffolk County Department of Health
Jeff Williams, Director of Public Policy, NY Farm Bureau
The Commissioners of Agriculture & Markets, Children & Family Services, Education, Temporary & Disability Assistance, and Health, as well as the Director of Farmers Markets at Empire State Development Corporation and the Director of the State Office for the Aging will also serve ex officio.
Under the Governor's leadership, New York has taken significant steps in the past three years to extend food assistance to New Yorkers in need. In 2011, Governor Cuomo launched the FreshConnect program, which brings fresh, locally grown food to underserved communities. The FreshConnect program includes projects such as youth markets, delivery of products to low-income housing facilities and new initiatives at traditional farmers' markets.
The Governor also ended the finger imaging requirement for food stamp applicants and recipients, simplifying the application process and removing a barrier to reducing hunger for children and adults.
In addition, Governor Cuomo recently announced nearly $5 million in funding from the Superstorm Sandy Social Services Block Grant to support continued food relief for Sandy victims and, in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, announced a 15% funding increase for food banks and other emergency food programs