The DASH-NY Food Policy Workgroup includes supermarkets, farmers, hunger groups, and obesity prevention programs. This year, the group prioritized funding for school lunches and access to healthy foods.
Policy Priority: Increase funding per school meal to support the procurement of healthy, local foods.
To start off, school meals are highly underfunded. The state reimbursement for school meals hasn’t increased in 40 years, and federal reimbursement only increased recently, and only by 6 cents per meal. At the same time, school food services are being asked to do much more with less. While the new federal standards improve the nutritional value of school meals, without support, these standards are difficult to reach.
The existing Farm to School grant program supports local, unprocessed foods, but are limited to a small number of schools. Last year only 6 schools received funding. With over 4,000 schools in New York State, a consistent source of funding would allow every school to enjoy local products, and help every farmer support healthy school food.
Policy Priority: Invest $15 million in the Healthy Food and Healthy Communities Fund and $3 million in the Healthy Corner Store Initiative to support healthy food access for all.
A continuous problem in New York State is the lack of access to healthy foods even at the supermarket, The Healthy Food and Healthy Communities Fund provided grants to grocery stores opening in low-income neighborhoods without access to healthy foods. Proximity to supermarkets has been shown to improve eating habits, so this program is an essential element to providing food to large populations. Refilling the Healthy Food and Healthy Communities Fund continues a worthwhile venture, while the healthy corner store initiative expands on its success.
Interested in learning more? Join our webinar tomorrow at 1 pm, Pressing Issues: DASH-NY 2016 Food Policy Priorities.