Food Policy Advisory Council Launched

Cornell Cooperative Extension Oneida County                                                          Beth Irons, FPAC

121 Second Street, Oriskany NY 13424                                                                        315-798-3639                                                                                               



DATE:  Monday, May 13, 2013

LOCATION:  Oneida County Public Market, Union Station, First and Main Streets, Utica NY

Saturday, May 18 at 10:00am, Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente will announce the launch of the Oneida County Food Policy Advisory Council.  The media is invited to attend.  The Council’s role will be to identify, develop, promote and support local efforts to create a strong and resilient local food system where affordable, nutritious food is accessible to all.  The Council’s efforts will focus on three key areas: healthy people, healthy environment and healthy economy. 

The launch of the Food Policy Advisory Council grows out of the activities of the Mohawk Valley Food Action Network (MVFAN) which were funded by a 2010 USDA Hunger Free Communities grant awarded to Cornell Cooperative Extension Oneida County, in partnership with Rust to Green (R2G) Utica, the Resource Center for Independent Living (RCIL), and the City of Utica.  The grant supported a two-year study of hunger and food insecurity, as well as the development of a plan to address those issues through local actions.  That work highlighted the uniquely vibrant food and agriculture resources of Oneida County, but also identified a number of challenges threatening our future, ranging from farm viability and suburban sprawl to consumer access and healthy food choices.

An essential aspect of the plan that emerged from MVFAN’s efforts is the formation of the Food Policy Advisory Council, modeled on similar councils that have been formed across the United States and around the world.  Food system issues are complex and multi-faceted.  By bringing this Council together, Oneida County has recognized the value of coordinating and cooperating across disciplines and jurisdictions to build on our strengths and address our challenges in an area that affects every Oneida County resident. 

“I commend this Council’s goals of developing and promoting local efforts to support Healthy People, Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy. This council will work to increase access to healthy foods, support viability of local farms and position agriculture as a job creating economic engine.  I look forward to working with this group going forward” said Anthony Picente, Oneida County Executive.

Increasingly, the food system of Oneida County and the Mohawk Valley is being recognized as a powerful economic engine. Steven DiMeo, President of Mohawk Valley EDGE commented: “The Food Policy Advisory Council is a progressive step to assist our local agribusinesses.   EDGE recently met with downstate agricultural development representatives to explore opportunities to link Mohawk Valley producers with NYC consumers.  As we work to capitalize on value added agriculture and developing relationships with partners across the state, this Council  will be instrumental”.

The Food Policy Advisory Council includes local representatives of all sectors that have a stake in a strong and resilient food system, including: agriculture; economic development; environmental stewardship; public health; planning; school systems; local philanthropies; and social service agencies. The Council is an independent entity, operating with the support of Oneida County, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and the many organizations represented on the Council.   

The Mohawk Valley Food Action Network engages the communities of Oneida County and the surrounding region to create a healthy and secure future based on a productive, resilient local food system where affordable, healthy and nutritious food is accessible to all.  By convening a Food Policy Council Working Group to establish preliminary goals and target outcomes, to coordinate research and associated outreach activities and to become a formalized Food Policy Advisory Council, the activities of the Working Group can continue within the Utica/Oneida County foodshed area. 

The Oneida County Public Market is located in the former Railroad Express Agency Wing of Union Station.  Built almost a century ago, the long, narrow structure served as a transfer building from the rails to local delivery for over fifty years.  With the shift from rail to truck transport, use of the facility declined until it was closed in the 1960’s.  Redevelopment of the space began in 2011 with County Executive Anthony Picente’s commitment to explore all possible alternatives to increase economic activity in the area.  The Oneida County Public Market blends the needs of consumers with those of the region’s long-standing agribusiness sector.    

“The Oneida County Public Market has experienced significant growth with a focus on locally grown and produced food items, and we are proud to partner with Cornell Cooperative Extension, Oneida County and the Food Policy Advisory Council to help put healthier foods on more family dinner tables.” stated Beth Irons, Market Manager of the Oneida County Public Market.   

The Market runs every Saturday during the summer and early fall from 9AM to 2PM.  Visit or call 798-3639 for more information or to become a vendor.