School districts are often hired to buy food from the lowest bidder, noted Nicholas Freudenberg, director of the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute. “However, if the lowest bidder is a multinational, this is not an opportunity to help the local.” Economy, to protect the land, to protect farmers and farm workers. “
The East End Food Institute and Urban Food Policy Institute at New York City University on Tuesday made efforts to develop an improvement plan to address food insecurity and weaknesses in the local food system, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic System with the help of farmers, food workers and others.
“The goal we’re hoping for is to really think about what we’ve learned from the pandemic in order to solve the problems that existed before the pandemic so we can create a fairer, more sustainable and healthier food system.” “said Nicholas Freudenberg, director of the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute and a Springs resident.” This will require a village of food farmers, food workers, food companies, local elected officials, people with unsafe food, and food security programs. We want to bring that together to work out a plan. “
Last year, Mr. Freudenberg and Kate Fullam, the managing director of the East End Food Institute, investigated the distribution of food in the area.
“The systems we have to feed people are biased and broken,” said Ms. Fullam, citing school feeding programs as an example. “Everyone should be able to enjoy the local premium regardless of their economic status, but right now, when I speak to food service directors, they can get a New Zealand apple that is cheaper than the apple from the New Zealand Street in the milk pail in the water mill. “
School districts are often hired to buy groceries from the lowest bidder, Freudenberg noted. “However, if the lowest bidder is a multinational, this does not provide an opportunity to benefit the local economy, protect and protect the country.” Farmers and farm workers. “New York has laws that allow exemptions for local growers,” he said, “These should be expanded to allow school districts in the East End to buy from farms in the East End.”
From a farmer’s point of view, the high costs of land, labor and supplies in the East End make it nearly impossible to bring the price of produce down. “How do we find common ground and how do we use public order to achieve this?” don’t we have to be against them? “asked Mrs. Fullam.
On Tuesday, Ms. Fullam and Mr. Freudenberg gathered in an online forum with more than 50 people to discuss such topics. These included Mark Smith, the executive director of the Honest Man Restaurant Group, which runs the Nick and Toni, La Fondita, Rowdy Hall, Townline BBQ and Coche Comedor restaurants, Layton Guenther, the director of Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett, and Michael Daly Board member of the nonprofit All for the East End, which raised more than $ 1.3 million to help local pantries and other charities during the pandemic.
The ultimate goal of the collaboration, said Ms. Fullam, is “to develop a long-term nutrition plan so that in a time of crisis we don’t just walk around and say,” Oh my gosh, what can we do? “” ”
At the start of the pandemic, that is exactly what happened in the East End, as pantries and other local groups sought to help the increasing number of people in need of food, she said. “At the East End Food Institute, we sent the cavalry out to help schools and pantries keep pace with demand. We secured a school-attendance grant that we used for school meals, and we set up passageways for People who usually have breakfast or lunch at school. ”
“School meals have played a really important role in tackling food insecurity in the East End, and when schools closed it was really at risk,” added Freudenberg. “When students go back to school, we need to ensure that these meal programs return to their previous status or even go beyond.” Food storage rooms are necessary, but not sufficient, to combat food insecurity.
In the future, they hope to find solutions that will help food manufacturers find more ways to market and distribute their products. “By aggregating producers, as the East End Food Institute is doing, you enable a player who is not entirely motivated by profit to achieve other goals such as food security, healthy food delivery and environmental protection,” Freudenberg said.
They want to find ways to better protect the livelihoods of food workers. “Many of the food workers in the East End are low-income, many are women, many are immigrants, many are people of color, so the populations whose health was already at risk lost income and gave them access to food and housing, so many things at risk,” he said.
And they want to find out how to maximize the East End’s agricultural wealth. “We need to improve the economics of agriculture in our area so that we can feed more people and make it more affordable for people to eat local food,” said Ms. Fullam.
“The aim of our project is to create a platform for local voices who have problems with the system and can find common goals,” said Freudenberg. “So much of food policy is made by the big people – the multinational food companies and the supermarket chains – but in the East End we are all together.”