The HVADC Cultivator
HVADC Initiatives: Developing Food Security in the Hudson Valley
Food security, as defined by the United Nations' Committee on World Food Security, means that all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their food preferences and dietary needs for an active and healthy life. According to recent U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics, one in nine people in America are hungry, and that 37.2 million Americans have trouble putting food on the table.
HVADC’s projects and programs toward improving food security on a regional level are vital resources which ultimately connect Hudson Valley grown or produced food to Hudson Valley people.
In 2018 HVADC became the home and administrator for FeedHV—a regional food rescue and gleaning network dedicated to meeting the needs of neighbors while mitigating the impacts of food waste. The concept evolved out of community dialogues with farmers, volunteers, nonprofit agencies and key stakeholders. Through the web-based and mobile application powered by ChowMatch, FeedHV links food donors of prepared but unserved food and fresh produce (including farms, restaurants, catering services, grocery stores, hospitals, universities and more) to nonprofit organizations with food assistance programs (such as food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters) through the efforts of a network of volunteers who transport, glean and process donated food. With this technological solution, FeedHV enhances and streamlines the good work of businesses, agencies, and organizations already doing food recovery work. The network covers Ulster, Orange, Dutchess, Sullivan, Greene, Columbia and Putnam counties in the Hudson Valley.
FeedHV is funded by Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley with support from Local Economies Project, NoVo Foundation, Ralph E. Ogden Foundation, Louis Greenspan Charitable Trust, The Thompson Family Foundation, The Bruderhof and anonymous individual and families.
FeedHV is in its infancy, however, it has already recovered and distributed over 170,000 pounds of food that would have otherwise gone to waste. FeedHV has multiple school districts, college dining halls, grocers, food producers, caterers and several dozen farms within the network — many of which are new to ever donating food – and almost 100 recipient emergency food agencies. The site and app also offer gleaning and processing events in which one may volunteer to help harvest what farms might leave on the trees or in the field when it’s too cost-prohibitive to pick and pack it, or also volunteer to process some “imperfect” or overabundant produce in a kitchen into soups, stews or sauces to be distributed to emergency food programs.
“HVADC’s stated vision is for a prosperous Hudson Valley community consciously investing in resilient agriculture and viable local food systems,” said Carrie Jones Ross, Food Security Development Manager for HVADC. “Our mission is to develop and provide innovative solutions that create dynamic agricultural entrepreneurship and enhance economic growth in the Hudson Valley. Food security and access for all—known as ‘food justice’— is becoming a widespread effort to generate viable local food systems at all levels, while also providing innovative solutions and resources for farms and food producers to reduce on-site food waste and receive tax credits and deductions for their efforts.”
HVADC is also assisting in the test of a project developed by Department of Defense (DoD) organizations for food system disaster planning and response. DoD, which includes state National Guards, is often on the frontline in the effort to maintain food security to people who have been affected by natural disaster or conflict.
For that reason, over the past years, DoD has supported an effort called the Food System Data Collection and Analysis project aimed at helping military commanders identify local food systems and gather information on entities (such as farms, food processing and storage facilities, food distributors, etc.) that are important parts of local food systems. This information not only helps military commanders, but also civilian emergency responders understand how local food systems are impacted by disaster and conflict and therefore, helps guide them in determining what most needs to be protected or rapidly restored to keep food flowing to an impacted population.
The Food System project has been led by the Civil Information Sharing (CIS) Project that was developed at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The data collection surveys and database were funded by DoD and completed in early 2019. The CIS Project is now working with HVADC to gather information on food system infrastructure in the Hudson Valley. This information will be loaded into a database where one can view maps of local food systems and see the locations of food system infrastructure in the local food system. Entities within the food system are represented as icons on the map that can be clicked to provide basic information such as entity location, type and size. The data can also be downloaded or used with analytical tools built into the system in order to assess the overall capacity of the local food. Access to the database will require registration but registration is open to the public, meaning that farmers, food distributors, emergency management officials, agricultural researchers, community organizations and others can register and use the data.
The mapping technology can also overlay the collected food system data with other data to provide insight into how food system infrastructure is linked to and impacted by infrastructure in other systems. As an example, data from transportation and energy networks combined with the food system data highlights the critical links between farms, processing and storage facilities and food distributors with transport and energy infrastructure. As an additional example, data from weather prediction models can be combined with the food system data providing insight into locations of and potential impacts on food system infrastructure entities from predicted weather events.
Through this data collection and mapping system, the connections among entities within a local food system become visible as well as information on the capacity and role of those entities within a local food system – all valuable information for emergency managers working to ensure food for populations impacted by disasters.
The Hudson Valley survey effort is very important because it will be used to make improvements to the Food System project and will also serve as the model for other regions across the U.S. The long-term goal of this effort is to provide local and state emergency managers, as well as state National Guards, with the information they need to project critical local food system infrastructure to maintain local food security in times of disaster.
For many years, HVADC has created physical, social and economic access to food which is nutritious, safe and sufficient for an active and healthy lifestyle through its Hudson Valley Bounty (HVB) portal. HVB is a project of HVADC designed to promote and support networking connections between local agricultural producers and culinary businesses, while educating the community about the preservation of local farms and the use of local and regional sustainable food products. HVB operates a searchable online database in order to create networking connections between agricultural producers, culinary businesses, and consumers.
HVB is a connection to the many agricultural products the region has to offer. The Hudson Valley is home to a diverse community of family farmers, specialty food producers, renowned chefs and other agricultural entrepreneurs. The HVB network spans a region from New York City north to the Canadian border.
The database includes roughly 275 farms, 300 restaurants, and 30 markets. HVB web visitors also learn about membership, events, and all things related to local food in the Hudson Valley.