January 10, 2001
Task Force on Food, Farm and Nutrition Policy
(518) 455-5203

Speaker Sheldon Silver appointed Assemblyman Felix Ortiz Chair of the Assembly’s Task Force on Food, Farm and Nutrition Policy. The Speaker asked Ortiz to lead the Assembly’s efforts to address the food and nutrition problems facing our State. The issues range from food assistance for struggling working families and seniors to food safety to food-based economic development. Assemblyman Ortiz looks forward to utilizing the Task Force to improve the affordability, accessibility, and quality of food available to residents of the 51st Assembly District and all New Yorkers.

According to Mr. Ortiz, "I plan to develop policies and programs to benefit consumers, farmers and small businesses in my community and around the State. We all appreciate good food but many families and seniors need assistance in obtaining a healthy diet. We can work together to increase the consumption of high-quality, nutritious New York-produced foods that will benefit upstate farmers, downstate consumers and businesses everywhere."

One of the first issues he plans to look into is child nutrition. "Research has shown that good nutrition can help improve academic performance. Other studies have shown increasing rates of childhood obesity. I would like to ensure that our children have access to all available government meal programs, that the programs are of the highest quality and that the schools encourage participation. We also need to examine eating habits and activity levels that can lead to serious health problems among children."

Over the last two years the Task Force helped secure $30 million in State funding, general fund and TANF surplus, for nutritionally at-risk children, families and seniors. In previous years the Task Force successfully added State funds for the Summer Food Program, developed the school breakfast expansion law requiring breakfast programs in over 1,000 schools statewide, and, increased funds for State food safety inspection.

Current Task Force issues include expanding State funded food assistance programs, monitoring the use of genetically modified (GM) plants and animals used for food, increasing purchases of New York-grown foods in school meal programs, developing food business incubators, improving State food safety enforcement, developing a State Community Food Security Program, and promoting New York food and agriculture, including the Assembly sponsored NY Harvest For NY Kids Week.

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