Jaffee to Chair Assembly Task Force on Food, Farm, Nutrition Policy

“It's really amazing to see people wanting to eat seasonally in the winter.
I'm so glad Ellen Jaffee is in our court; she's always responsive to our concerns.”
- Joan Dye Gussow, Professor, Author, Food Policy Expert
(Pearl River, NY) – Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee (D-Rockland), recently appointed Chair of the New York State Assembly Task Force on Food, Farm and Nutrition Policy, held a kickoff event on Thursday at the Nyack Center, which hosts the weekly Nyack Winter Farmers’ Market. Joining Jaffee were community activists and representatives from a wide variety of organizations throughout Rockland County, who share her determination to reduce hunger and ensure that everyone, especially those who are underserved, has access to nutritious, local food grown on sustainable farms in New York State. "Ellen has always been a powerful advocate for children and families,” said Nyack Mayor, Jen Laird White, who introduced Jaffee. “Now, Ellen can continue her efforts by extending her advocacy to the idea that there is no better place to start an empowered life, than at the table. It is a perfect next step for Ellen’s leadership.” “I’m excited by my appointment to the Food, Farm and Nutrition Policy Task Force, which provides me with the opportunity to influence policy and programs to sustain our food production capacity while at the same time improving our nutrition and health. In so many ways it will allow me to continue my advocacy for mothers, children, families, seniors and communities across the state,” said Jaffee, thanking all those who had turned out to support the mission of the task force and to speak. “We have such a wealth of activists in Rockland who have brought farm-fresh food and nutrition into the forefront in our county,” said Jaffee. “It all began with Joan Dye Gussow, professor, author, food policy expert. Joan Gussow needs no introduction. She is our nationally known local food policy expert.” Jaffee told the large gathering that included vendors, shoppers – mothers pushing strollers and older adults- that she had just sent a letter to Assembly Speaker, Sheldon Silver, requesting that this year's state budget must not only maintain but also expand funding for the WIC program, which provides supplemental food for women, infants and children. “Feeding children nutritious food, like the fresh fruit and vegetables right here in this farmers’ market, makes them grow strong and keeps them healthier. It makes them better learners and in the long term better earners,” she said. Rob Maher, Executive Director of TOUCH, who oversees Get Fresh, a program that distributes food to more than 30 food pantries in Rockland and Orange Counties, cited a Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health study that drew similar conclusions: Nutritious meals keep people healthy and actually reduces costly visits to the emergency room. “The science is there. Now is the time to act on the hard evidence and invest wisely in what we know, so we can reverse the crisis of childhood obesity and diabetes in our state,” said Jaffee. “We can improve health for our families by seeing that everyone has access to healthy food. That's why I am saying no to cuts to the Hunger Prevention Nutrition Assistance Program. I will be looking closely to see if our programs provide sufficient supplies of fresh, nutritious food to keep our seniors healthy at home instead of in hospitals and nursing homes.” Barbara Kohlhausen, CEO and President of Meals on Wheels, echoed Jaffee’s message, noting that seniors who eat well are more active, have improved cognitive ability and are less likely to enter a nursing home. Jaffee said she was energized by the opportunity to work on behalf of both consumers and producers of food in the state by promoting New York food and farm products, growing farmers’ markets, farm-to-school programs and food-based economic development. “What better way to grow healthy children, families and communities, than by supporting New York’s farmers and food producers whose hard work and commitment to eating local strengthens our economy and nurtures our environment by maintaining open space, preventing over development, and protecting our water sheds,” she said. Introducing John McDowell, founder and president of the Rockland Farm Alliance, Jaffee noted that McDowell’s name had become synonymous with farm and praised the work he had done to raise awareness and involve Rockland families in Cropsey Community Farm, the county’s largest organic farm and CSA. Rockland Farm Alliance has also partnered with Cornell Cooperative Extension to create a hands-on location for would-be farmers of all ages to learn about organic, sustainable farming. “With today’s concern about obesity, diabetes and other health issues, many community groups including farmers, farmer’s markets, schools, non-profits, government and health professionals are working together to ensure a continuing supply of fresh produce and healthy choices for Rockland residents in the long-term,” said Paul Trader, Executive Director, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rockland. “The work of this task force will be extremely va, Food Policy Expert