Foodlink spends March focused on state, federal advocacy

With food banks around the country collectively responsible for feeding millions more food-insecure households compared to a year ago, now is a critical time to advocate for policies and legislation that can mitigate the pandemic’s devastating impact on our communities.

Foodlink spent the past two weeks coordinating more than 10 meetings — all virtual, of course — with state and federal officials in Albany and Washington D.C.

At the state level, Foodlink’s top priority each year to to advocate for adequate funding for the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program (HPNAP) within the Department of Health’s budget. After holding steady for a handful of years, Foodlink and other food banks across the state pushed officials to increase funding by about 45% to mirror the rise in food insecurity we’re seeing across the state.

Foodlink also spoke up in favor of the continuation of the Nourish New York program, which connects New York farmers to emergency food providers, to both provide a new market for farmers who lost multiple distribution channels this past year (e.g. schools, restaurants), with food-insecure households. Foodlink also sought additional funding for the Double Up Food Bucks program — utilized by SNAP recipients on the Curbside Market — and encouraged lawmakers to pass six bills in the Invest in Our New York Act.

Foodlink held meetings with the following state representatives: Senator George Borello, Senator Ed Rath, Senator Pamela Helming, Assemblyman Stephen Hawley, and Assemblyman Josh Jensen.

At the federal level, Foodlink organized a large group of staff members and food bank members to attend the annual Anti-Hunger Policy Conference, which was held virtually this year on March 16-17. After two days of informational sessions — including a keynote address from the USDA’s Tom Vilsack, Foodlink met with the offices of all four members of Congress that represent its 10-county service area, as well as Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

Areas of focus included the Child Nutrition Reauthorization, SNAP, WIC, CFAP and Summer Meals. We met with Rep. Joe Morelle and his staff, and staff members from the offices of Rep. John Katko, Rep. Tom Reed, Rep. Chris Jacobs. Foodlink will continue to advocate for government support of programs such as SNAP that feed 10x more than the charitable food sector on an annual basis.

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