Food Equity Advisory Committee
We established a Food Equity Advisory Committee, which comprises multiple organizations including emergency food organizations, community garden representatives, developers, town officials, departments of transportation, retailers, food distributors, institutional food service operators, farmers, and policymakers. The Committee has worked to identify initial issues in food access on Long Island and think through project strategies. Advisory committee members were important partners in the Farmers’ Market pilot project, identifying the need for local food access mapping and also recently discussed the New York Healthy Food & Healthy Communities Fund, part of the State’s Healthy Food Healthy Communities Initiative and created a set of recommendations to make sure the program met the needs of Long Island. The committee proposed continuing the work of the advisory committee, expanding it to include additional members, making policy recommendations to the LI Regional Planning Council’s regional planning process LI2035, additional mapping of Long Island’s food access needs, and formal recognition of the group as a Food Policy Council.
Sustainable Long Island’s Food Advisory Committee was the first time the spectrum of LI’s food system, from farmers to food rescue convened to discuss issues related to access to fresh, healthy food for everyone on Long Island. We have built momentum for the project and a greater understanding that this is a regional issue, not isolated to a community here or there. Sustainable Long Island has continued convening the Committee and bringing additional business perspectives (ie supermarket and food distribution executives) and government to the table, which has helped spark cross-sector dialogue and solutions and bring essential context to policy and advocacy work moving forward.
Food Equity Advisory Committee:
- Adelphi University, Center for Social Innovation and Vital Signs
- Bayshore Unified Free School District / Long Island School Nutrition Directors Association
- Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk
- Flip The Table (Youth Food Council)
- Greater Bellport Coalition / Suffolk County United Veterans
- Health & Welfare Council of Long Island
- Hobbs Farm
- Island Harvest
- JGVL Consultants, Inc.
- Long Island Cares
- Long Island Council of Churches
- Long Island Farm Bureau
- Nassau and Peconic Land Trusts
- Roosevelt Community Revitalization Group
- Slow Food Huntington
- Stony Brook University, Department of Family Medicine
- Sunshine Farm
- SUNY Old Westbury
- Town of Hempstead Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby
In 2009, Suffolk County Deputy Presiding Officer Vivian Viloria-Fisher created the Long Island Victory Garden Task Force in response to a visit to a Central Islip School District fourth grade class, where during a “legislators for a day” exercise the class asked if Suffolk County could help children afford healthy food. The Victory Garden Task Force exists to study and analyze information on how to encourage the development of community Victory Gardens, establish a plan to distribute produce grown on publicly owned property, and develop a program to encourage the creation and maintenance of Victory Gardens across Suffolk.
A key recommendation of the Task Force was the establishment of a Food Policy Council to serve as an advisory council to the Suffolk County Legislature to build upon the work of the Task Force.The Food Policy Council of Suffolk County facilitates continuing dialogue, networking, and the development and growth of community gardens and other activities to improve access to healthy, fresh fruit and vegetables and tackles pressing issues including, but not limited to, hunger and obesity. The mission of the Council is to promote the production, distribution, and education of locally grown food; strengthen and prioritize policies that will improve food access, health, and nutrition; and to enhance the regional food system by utilizing local agriculture and farming.
Sustainable Long Island is proud to serve as a community-based organization on the Food Policy Council and to Chair the Food Equity Subcommittee, which seeks to improve food equity. The Food Equity Subcommittee is currently exploring several avenues for improving food equity and strengthening the regional food system, including redemption of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and educational outreach at farmers markets, as well as promoting healthy food in schools and corner stores.