Hunger Action
New York State Communities Come Together to End Hunger

With an increase of 27% in use of emergency food programs in the last year and state budget cuts in services to the hungry, the need to develop lasting community food security is essential to the well-being of millions of New Yorkers. Community food security entails all members of a community having reliable access to nutritious, culturally acceptable food through local non-emergency sources. Answering the call this Spring, community partners ranging from members of neighborhood associations to farmers to faith-based service workers in all parts of the State are connecting low income people with local and affordable organic vegetables with the assistance of grants from Hunger Action Network of New York State (HANNYS).

HANNYS is announcing seven projects throughout New York that will be funded through mini-grants starting in May. "Community food projects are as diverse as the communities that create them," says Liz Wagner of Hunger Action. "We are currently assisting community-based development of community gardens, a local food buying cooperative, a farm gleaning project, and community-supported agriculture projects throughout the state that promise to bring nourishment and economic benefits to those in need today and into the future."

The Northside Food Network, in collaboration with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, has teamed with the Dilmun Hills Student Organic Farm to make Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares accessible to the low income community of Ithaca's Northside Neighborhood. CSA communities purchase a "share" of a farmers' production for the season, receiving a box of fresh organic vegetables each week and guaranteeing the farmer has stable demand for his or her harvest. Coordinator Meg Meixner is also teaming with local farmers to offer a reduced price sale of farmers' market produce in the community.

With a small HANNYS grant, the Wake Robin Farm will glean and deliver potatoes, onions, and a wide variety of other healthful vegetables to Onondaga County emergency food programs at an estimated value of $7500. "With over 1000 CSAs in the USA, similar projects could potentially reach tens of thousands of the low-income families in our country in need of fresh produce," says Meg Schader of Wake Robin Farm, whose goal is that this gleaning project be a model for other CSAs. In the United States, 90 billion pounds of food end up in the waste stream each year because the food fails to reach those in need while it is still fresh

Community food security coalitions, such as the Chenango County Hunger Coalition, come together to help ensure that New Yorkers have secure access to food. A partner in the coalition, Chenango County Catholic Charities, is organizing a local food buying cooperative, called Bullthistle Bounty, with HANNYS funds. Community members and tourists will purchase coupons redeemable for locally grown produce, and also contribute funds to subsidize coupons for low income members of the community. Bullthistle Bounty supports local growers while providing affordable food to the county's needy.

Hunger Action Network has additionally funded two community gardens through Chautauqua County Rural Ministry and Schoharie County Action Program. Hudson Guild of New York City and Future Farms in Chemung County are developing low income CSA projects. HANNYS is working with these groups to develop community food security that will ensure equal access to nutritious food regardless of income. These projects serve as alternatives to traditional food retail markets and are a community-based source of healthful food and economic development. Staff is available to help groups duplicate alternative food projects in their communities. HANNYS will accept applications for more community food mini-grants through October 30, 2003, with funds available through the Indirect Vitamins Purchasers Antitrust Settlement administered by the Attorney General.

The Hunger Action Network of New York State is a statewide membership organization of direct food providers, low-income individuals, communities of faith, grassroots advocates and other individuals whose goal is to increase the amount of food provided to hungry New Yorkers, while building unified statewide advocacy for long term solutions to hunger and its roots causes, including poverty.