Assemblymember Ellen Jaffee: Food, Farm and Nutrition Programs in State Budget

Funding for agriculture programs restored; new programs added. Budget preserves separate funding to fight hunger and prevent childhood obesity and diabetes.

Albany - Assemblymember Ellen Jaffee (D-Rockland), Chair of the Assembly's Task Force on Food, Farm and Nutrition Policy announced that the Assembly successfully restored or increased funding for agriculture in the recently passed state budget and fought to maintain individual nutrition programs that were threatened.

Jaffee stated, “This week we will pass a budget that supports our most vulnerable citizens, children, struggling working families and seniors. For food and nutrition programs the final budget will provide individual program funding for health and nutrition programs that were proposed to be lumped together and cut. The nutrition programs, such as WIC for families with young children and emergency food for those without enough resources to make it through the month, faced unknown funding cuts in the Governor’s proposal. Programs that prevent nutrition-related problems such as diabetes and obesity, which help reduce spending on hospital and doctor visits, were also threatened. The Legislature was able to keep any spending reductions to a minimum and even add funds for food banks. And we helped our state’s farmers by continuing the modest programs that help them through tough times and restoring funding for programs to help them provide us with locally-grown food.”

The 2013-14 State budget increased funding for school meals and eating disorder programs and maintained level funding for nutrition outreach activities, senior meals for frail elderly, and summer meals for school children. The State budget includes over $113 million in State dollars for food assistance and close to $8 million for fighting nutrition-related health problems such as obesity and diabetes.

The legislature added about $4 million in new and restored funding for agriculture to the Governor’s proposed budget, including: funds for the apple industry devastated by last year’s weather; research monies to improve farm viability and fight plant diseases; and support for preserving farms threatened by development.

“Although I am pleased at the budget increases for food and agriculture programs, I know we need to do more, especially for families who rely on assistance to help their children reach their full potential. The Assembly’s budget plan would have fully restored cuts to human and health services and provided a better minimum wage. We will continue to advocate for more resources to assist our neighbors in need as well as farmers, businesses and consumers who rely on a vibrant local food economy,” said Jaffee.