State food policy council holds listening session to improve food access

Jul 24, 2014

A meeting to strategize ways to combat hunger was held in Buffalo Wednesday. The New York State Council on Food Policy held its third listening session as part of its tour across the state.

The meeting titled: Farm, Food and Policy: Getting It Right in New York State aims to address issues associated with food access and availability. The panel is comprised of members appointed by the governor and is responsible for advising state leaders on the value of safe, fresh, nutritious and affordable food for New Yorkers.

The New York State Council on Food Policy holds meeting at Buffalo City Hall titled: Farm, Food and Policy: Getting It Right in New York State.
Credit Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO

Registered Dietitian Ellie Wilson is on the council and represents the food retail industry. She says the meeting is crucial in making sure that communities have good access to healthy food.

“It’s making sure that we have the right things in place to connect the dots for New York residents,” said Wilson.

The group works with various organizations that provide food, including pantries, schools, hospitals and senior living communities.

Community Planning Coordinator for the Department of Senior Services in Erie County Timothy Hogues says he attended the session to learn new ways to continue to improve the quality of life among seniors.

“It all starts with the body and it all starts with if you have the education. So, if we are able to educate the seniors on the opportunities they have, even though a lot of them may be on small budgets… We try to show them to make sure they are able to make their dollars stretch, but in a good positive way. So, instead of eating potato chips, candy bars and junk food we make sure that are licensed dietitians go over the menu and provide a nutritional meal that meets their [some of their] daily needs at our congregate dining sites. So, we feel that will stem off a lot of the other costs that are associated with poor health and their less likely to end up in the hospital due to male nutrition,” said Hogues.

The council also updated attendees on the new amenities and features being added to food programs statewide. They discussed that yogurt has been added to school lunches and the new features within the SNAP program, which allows the benefits to be used at farmer’s markets.