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HVADC People: Michael Hurwitz

Jan 1, 2024

Connecting the dots in the middle channel of the food supply chain

When it comes to managing and coordinating food systems initiatives, Michael Hurwitz is a specialist like no other. His extensive experience connecting farms to markets and communities throughout New York State and New York City is the reason HVADC is excited to be partnering with Hurwitz to help facilitate the Meat Processing Expansion Grant Program (MPEG). Administered by HVADC, MPEG supported projects are anticipated to increase New York State’s meat industry capacity by over 4.8 million pounds annually.


Hurwitz, who was the Director of Food Access and Agriculture of Grow NYC for over 14 years, said the opportunity the program will provide for processors to improve and connect the supply chain will make a real and tangible impact in the lives of both farmers and underserved communities.


“Given the number of grants being made, and that it is a state-wide program, the MPEG project necessitated bringing in someone with the experience and expertise to ensure that the coordination and management of millions of dollars in grants is not only done efficiently but innovatively,” said HVADC Executive Director Todd Erling. “Michael Hurwitz has a deep understanding of the complex interconnectivity of the food system and will be a key component to the success of HVADC’s involvement in the MPEG program.”


According to Hurwitz the programs have unique overlap as they both service the middle of the supply chain. He says he is excited to be partnering with HVADC on such transformative opportunities for the industry.


Hurwitz grew up in Pittsburg but has spent his career in New York City, where he is Principal of Landing Lights Solutions. He actually started his career in social work with children and families facing systemic hardship. He said it was seeing the positive impact of urban farming on the lives of his clients that inspired him to shift gears and begin working to improve the food system’s reach to the underserved. He received a law degree to further his ability to effect change.


“I discovered the way that urban agriculture can be a transformative force in people’s lives,” he said.


It was while working for Grow NYC, coordinating and managing their complex operations, that he began interacting and collaborating with HVADC. In 2021 he started his consultancy.


The work Hurwitz is now doing with HVADC is emblematic of his drive to help connect as many people as possible with the farm fresh foods they deserve. Much of that work is quite technical, and with such large new projects coming through the HVADC office, Hurwitz is overseeing the implementation of a new grant filing and management system at the organization. The new program, Survey Monkey Apply, is much more serious than its name suggests, and the top-of-the-line platform will allow HVADC associates and leadership to manage grant programming more effectively than ever.


“I’ve worked with HVADC as a partner organization for years. We’ve been talking about the food systems for long time,” Hurwitz said. “They have a great team in place and they think big picture. With their affiliate program, the Farm and Food Growth Fund, they are innovating how to bring transformative capital to farms. I try to work all along the supply chain to find gaps and priorities. Together, I want to answer the question of, ‘how do we get more New York grown food into New York City mouths?’”


HVADC awarded 26 projects across New York State for MPEG funding in December. Hurwitz said it has been interesting to meet the meat processors who have been awarded the grants and learning about their processes, histories and plans for the future.


“These grants really could be the difference in the middle of the food system,” he said. They can create a market space for business to grow and foster new investment.” 


Hurwitz’s consultancy, Landing Lights Strategies, specializes in senior-level strategic support for nonprofit and for-profit clients. He is hired as a fractional executive and strategic advisor to coach and mentor leadership teams in program development, revenue diversification, market entry and creation, fundraising, and workforce development as well as agricultural and food systems, food supply chains, and food safety planning. Other Landing Lights clients include Colorado State University, The Jim Joseph Foundation, Urbane, Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center, CUNY, and the Rondout Valley Growers Association.

Hurwitz lives with his wife and kids in Queens and says he can often be found “eating his way through the most diverse borough in the world.”

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