Council on Hunger and Food Policy


The New York State Council on Hunger and Food Policy convenes to provide state policymakers with expertise on how to address hunger and improve access to healthy, locally-grown food for New York State residents.

The Council was established in 2016 to expand on New York State's existing programs to provide food assistance for New Yorkers in need, and to establish a permanent focus on fighting hunger in the state. Chaired by Commissioner Ball, the Council works across various state agencies and sectors, identifying new policies and programs to improve access to healthy, locally grown food across New York State. It also helps to strengthen ties and cooperation between programs addressing hunger and those who produce and supply food. The Council consists of a diverse group of members who represent state and municipal agencies, academia, nonprofit organizations, and agricultural industries. 


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

  • Beth Finkel, American Association of Retired Persons
  • Brian Reeves, Reeves Farms
  • Giovanni Holmquist, Empire State Development
  • Lynn Edmunds, New York State Department of Health
  • Dr. Stephen Cook, URMC and DOH Medical Director
  • Dr. Melony Samuels, The Campaign Against Hunger
  • Ellie Wilson, Price Chopper Supermarkets
  • Greg Olsen, New York State Office for the Aging
  • Jeff Crist, Crist Brothers Orchards
  • Jeff Williams, New York Farm Bureau
  • Joel Berg, Hunger Free America 
  • Karen Washington, Rise & Root Farm
  • Benjamin Houlton, Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Linda Bopp, Hunger Solutions New York
  • Lisa Irving, New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance 
  • Marcel Vanooyen, Grow NYC
  • Leslie Gordon, Food Bank for NYC
  • Mitch Gruber, Foodlink
  • Paula Tyner-Doyle, New York State Department of Education
  • Randi Shubin Dresner, Island Harvest Food Bank
  • Richard Ball, New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets
  • Rick Naczi, American Dairy Association and Dairy Council
  • Sue Bell, New York School Nutrition Association
  • Stephen O'Brien, New York City Department of Education Office of Food and Nutrition Services
  • Tessa Edick, FarmOn! Foundation

Past Meeting Materials

The most recent past meeting of the Council on Hunger and Food Policy took place on April 29, 2021. The meeting agenda is available below, and a recording of the meeting is available here.

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.

Contact Council on Hunger and Food Policy

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