NYS Food Policy Council Gets Poor 'Report Card'

Oct 10, 2013

Mark Dunlea
Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

The Hunger Action Network of New York State released a performance audit of the New York State Food Policy Council today.

The report examines how well, over the past six years, the Food Policy Council has met the directives of the executive order that created it. Mark Dunlea, Executive Director of the Hunger Action Network of New York State, says the paper found that the Council had few initiatives it could point to as success stories over the years.

Dunlea suggests the Council take on more of a leadership role: he notes that Food Policy Councils are expanding throughout the country, but New York's Council has withered since it was first rolled out during under Governor Mario Cuomo.

The Hunger Action Network played a key role in the Council’s reestablishment in 2005. Dunlea says regional economies could be rebuilt if the state would just do more to help family farms and beginning farmers survive and thrive. 

Among several recommendations: the Council needs to come up with a new five-year plan on food policy, viewing such policy as an economic engine. And Dunlea suggests moving the agency out from under Ag & Markets.

Since the Council was established, the food policy movement in NYS has greatly increased in numbers. Food Policy Conferences in NYC routinely attract thousands of participants, and efforts to establish local food policy councils are underway in a number of upstate communities such as Buffalo, Utica, Hudson Valley, Central NY and the Southern Tier.

Groups are concerned that the state Food Policy Council has lagged behind the development of the food policy movement throughout the state. It has not developed a state food policy or a strategic plan for its implementation during its six years in existence.

Supporters of a stronger Food Policy Council also want the agency "created by law" instead of operating as an executive order, which it has been since its inception.

Governor Cuomo's office did not return a call for comment in time for broadcast.