Council on Hunger and Food Policy



The New York State Council on Hunger and Food Policy (the “Council”) convenes to provide state policymakers with expertise on how to address food security and provide New York State residents with greater access to healthy, locally-grown food for in the coming year. 


The Council was developed out of the recognized value in focused discussion by knowledgeable stakeholders to provide input on government food-related policy decisions. Its identity evolved several times as a recognized group convening to support New York State government.

In 2007, former Governor Spitzer created the Food Policy Council through Executive Order No. 13. In January 2011, the Council evolved into the New York State Council on Food Policy when former Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order No. 2 (Review, Continuation and Expiration of Prior Executive Orders) continued Spitzer's Executive Order No. 13. In 2013, former Governor Cuomo established the New York State Anti-Hunger Task Force to research issues related to hunger and to develop recommendations for the State to consider.

The 2016 State of the State presented that the two groups merged to create the current New York State Council on Hunger and Food Policy, chaired by Commissioner Ball. The Council provides guidance to state policymakers on how to best address hunger and improve access to healthy, locally-grown food for all New York State residents. Council members include experts and leaders in the fields of agriculture, food policy, hunger prevention, and healthcare.

In November 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul approved the bills (S.549-B and A.3954-B) that codify the existence and purpose of the Council for Hunger and Food Policy, so it no longer operates under executive order. Cited as the “local food, farms, and jobs act,” A.3945-B directs the Council to develop comprehensive, coordinated state food policies with the goal of ensuring all citizens of the state are able to eat a healthy diet and avoid food insecurity while consuming as many New York grown and produced foods as possible. The legislation aims to formalize the Council and current membership to support continuation of current work. 

We are excited to share that as of March 3, 2023, the New York State Assembly bill A.00615 (same as Senate bill S.00829) proposing to amend Chapter 645 of the Laws of 2022 to clarify the provisions relating to the establishment and priorities of the Council for Hunger and Food Policy was signed by the Governor. 

Hunger in New York State

Per Feeding America: In New York State, 2,261,250 people are faced with hunger. Of that number, 732,300 are children. Though often overlooked, people who struggle with hunger are in our own communities, workplaces, schools, and more. Of every nine individuals, one is confronted with hunger, and for every six children one is faced with that same reality. Nutrition assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), School Breakfast Program, Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and so many more have supported in tackling the food insecurity of our state. Though these initiatives have been widely successful, New York State hunger prevails, leaving space for innovative programs, efforts, and ideas that address this pressing issue to be incorporated in policy.


The Council has supported many creative efforts to combat food insecurity and hunger, including helping farmers donate foods through food banks and increasing the use of healthy and locally grown foods in school meals. The Council supported the tax credit for farmers donating to food banks, which was enacted in 2018 to compensate farmers for costs associated with harvesting, packaging, and distributing local products to eligible food pantries, food banks, and other emergency food programs across the state. Increased donations will help meet the growing demand for fresh, healthful foods in underserved communities across New York.

The Council additionally focuses on recommending actions to expand agricultural production and value-added processing, increase institutional purchase of local products, 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, and more.

Additionally, the Council successfully worked towards the inclusion of "Healthy Eating and Food Security" in the New York State 2019-2024 Prevention Agenda. This has been one of the Council's biggest accomplishments to date.


The members of the Council on Hunger & Food Policy are:

  • Commissioner Richard Ball, New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets*
  • Allison Argust, on behalf of Commissioner Hope Knight, Empire State Development*
  • Kathleen DeCataldo, on behalf of Commissioner Betty A. Rosa, New York State Education Department*
  • Jill Dunkel, on behalf of Commissioner James McDonald, New York State Department of Health*
  • Susan Zimet, on behalf of Acting Commissioner Barbara C. Guinn, New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance*
  • Greg Olsen, New York State Office for the Aging*
  • Karen Erren, Feeding Westchester, appointed on the recommendation of the Senate President*
  • Justin Rogers, Cornell Cooperative Extension, appointed on the recommendation of the Senate Minority*
  • TBD, appointed on the recommendation of the Assembly Speaker*
  • TBD, appointed on the recommendation of the Assembly Minority*
  • Joel Berg, Hunger Free America*
  • Jeff Crist, Crist Brothers Orchards*
  • Mitch Gruber, Foodlink*
  • Leslie Gordon, Food Bank for NYC*
  • Sue Jaffe, Snowdance Farms*
  • Jerome Nathaniel, City Harvest*
  • Stephen O'Brien, NYC Public Schools, Office of Food and Nutrition Services*
  • Natasha Pernicka, The Food Pantries for the Capital District/The Alliance for a Hunger Free New York*
  • Dr. Melony Samuels, The Campaign Against Hunger*
  • Julie Suarez, Cornell University*
  • Renée St. Jacques, New York Farm Bureau*
  • Steve  Terzo, American Dairy Association and Dairy Council*
  • Marcel Van Ooyen, Grow NYC*
  • Andres Vives, Hunger Solutions New York*
  • Ellie Wilson, Price Chopper Supermarkets*
  • Commissioner Suzanne Miles-Gustave, New York State Office of Children and Family Services
  • Nicholas Barber, New York State Office of General Services
  • Natalie Birch-Higgins, New York State Dept. of State/Office for New Americans
  • Dana Cohen, New York State Office of Mental Health
  • Kristine Ellsworth, New York State Department of Environmental Conversation
  • Laura Gonzalez-Murphy, New York State Dept. of State/Office for New Americans
  • Merrill Rotter, New York State  Office of Mental Health
  • Gabrielle Viens, New York State Office of General Services
  • Nichole Borchard, Field and Fork Network
  • Mark Bordeau, Food Bank of the Southern Tier
  • Allison DeHonney, Buffalo Go Green
  • Tessa Edick, FarmOn! Foundation
  • Dan Egan, Feeding NYS
  • Kathleen Finlay, Glynwood Regional Center for Food and Farming
  • Camesha Grant, Food Bank for NYC
  • Krista Hesdorfer, Hunger Solutions New York
  • Caitlin Lazarski, New York School Nutrition Association
  • Tashara Leak, Cornell University
  • Julia McCarthy, New York State Health Foundation
  • Kristen McManus, American Association of Retired Persons
  • Angela Odoms Young, Cornell Cooperative Extension
  • Randi Shubin Dresner, Island Harvest Food Bank
  • Bronwyn Starr, New York State Health Foundation
  • Larry Tse, National Young Farmers Coalition & Choy Commons
  • Karen Washington, Rise & Root Farm

*This member serves in a formal capacity per the requirements of Section 16 of the Agriculture and Markets Law.


No members of this board receive payment of expenses or other compensation in the performance of their duties as members.


Next Meeting

Information about the next meeting of the Council on Hunger and Food Policy will be posted here when it is available. 

Past Meeting Materials

The most recent meeting was held on October 19, 2023. A recording of the meeting is available online, and meeting materials are available below.

Agendas for past meetings are also available below.