A statewide initiative to combat hunger and improve access to locally grown and produced fresh foods has the name of a local school leader attached to it.
Maureen Donahue, superintendent of Southwestern Central School District, has been selected to participate on the New York State Anti-Hunger Task Force, as announced in a press release from the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
According to the press release, the task force will bring together experts, advocates and state and local officials to develop and implement action-focused recommendations in order to achieve its aforementioned goals. According to Donahue, specific information regarding the recommendations and their implementation are currently unknown, but she is grateful for the opportunity to serve in this capacity.
"I'm delighted to be able to represent the educational field on this task force for New York state," Donahue said. "They wanted a superintendent from the state, and New York State Council of School Superintendents called and asked if I would represent them. We don't have any specifics yet, but we'll see what it brings. I know this has been an area of interest for our own state Sen. Cathy Young."
The release said nearly 14 percent of New York households struggle with hunger, and at least 1 million New York children live in households that do not have regular and consistent access to food. However, nearly one in four New Yorkers who are eligible for food stamps do not receive them.
To alleviate this discrepancy, the task force will develop strategies to: maximize resources to fight hunger in New York state by increasing participation in federally funded programs like SNAP, school breakfast and school lunch; use public/private partnerships to increase outreach and leverage the power of government, businesses and the nonprofit sectors working together; and improve access to quality, healthy food through the use of New York farm products and locally produced goods to combat hunger, while creating jobs and supporting economic development.
"The New York State Anti-Hunger Task Force will be a key resource and tool in our ongoing efforts to eliminate hunger in New York," Cuomo said. "By bringing experts, officials and advocates to the same table, we can enhance the effectiveness of our fight against hunger by better coordinating the significant public and private resources already dedicated to this important issue. Hunger in New York is a long-term problem that cannot be solved in a matter of weeks, so this task force is the right step towards developing lasting solutions to increase access to food for those in need and build healthier and more prosperous communities."