people sitting at tables with a powerpoint on a screen on the wall
The last time the NYS Food Summit was held in person was 2019, when it was also hosted at Russell Sage College’s Albany campus. The summit was delivered virtually during the pandemic. (Photo courtesy of The Food Pantries for the Capital District)

The New York State Food Summit on June 12 at Russell Sage College’s Albany campus will bring together approximately 400 food assistance providers, faculty from multiple colleges and universities, and advocates to share research, innovations, and best practices for hunger relief.

The event will be held from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Armory Building, 130 New Scotland Avenue, Albany, at Russell Sage College, which has the only accredited nutrition programs in the region, including a bachelor’s degree in nutrition science, master’s degrees in nutrition and dietetics and applied nutrition, and a dietary internship.

The statewide summit is held every two years and is hosted by The Alliance for a Hunger Free New York. The Alliance is a coalition of frontline emergency food providers from 23 counties across New York state, including The Food Pantries for the Capital District and their 70 food pantry members in the Albany area. The event is co-presented by Broadview Federal Credit Union and CDPHP.

This year’s workshops and “FED Talks” – five- to seven-minute TED Talk-like presentations – focus on three themes: strengthening the food insecurity safety net, food as medicine, and ending hunger through action.

The agenda is packed with presentations and discussions covering a variety of topics, including collaborations that better serve refugee and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities, food pantry home delivery as a tool for addressing food security, food is medicine efforts that focus on using nutritious food to prevent and address disease, and the power and potential of summer meals programs for children.

A January 2024 report by the New York State Department of Health revealed that one in four adults statewide is experiencing food insecurity. Some emergency food providers in the Alliance have reported 600% growth in the need for services since the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Food insecurity continues to be a pressing issue across the state and the globe, and food insecurity issues are nutrition issues. As a top three granter of nutrition degrees and certificates in New York state, Russell Sage College is once again very proud to host the New York State Food Summit,” said Sonya Hauser, associate professor of nutrition and chair of the Nutrition Department at Russell Sage, who will be one of the presenters for the workshop, “Summer Meals Collaborate Dream Session.” 

Hauser’s nutrition students visited dozens of meal sites for the United Way of the Greater Capital Region’s Summer Meals Collaborative across six counties and analyzed the nutritional content of the food served; interviewed hundreds of staff, parents, and kids about foods the kids like and don’t like, and what would make them try new foods; and studied how it all measured up to nutrition guidelines.

The summer meals program is just one of the many success stories to be shared at the summit. Chef Greg Silverman, CEO and executive director at West Side Campaign Against Hunger (WSCAH), a New York City-based organization serving more than 70,000 customers, will provide the event’s keynote talk. Under Silverman’s guidance, WSCAH founded the Roundtable: Allies for Food Access, a dedicated network of eight emergency food providers collaborating to bring more resources to communities through collective food purchasing.

“The NYS Food Summit began in 2017 as a way to highlight the work of our member food pantries, the partnerships we have to advance our anti-hunger work, and the collective impact we make by working together,” said Natasha Pernicka, the executive director of The Alliance for a Hunger Free New York and The Food Pantries for the Capital District. “We are proud of the diversity of perspectives, expertise, and experience of the panelist and speakers and know it will be an inspiring and meaningful day for those of us working towards nutrition security for all. We couldn’t do this without our partners, and we are especially grateful to Russel Sage College for hosting this important convening. Working together we can do more than any one of us alone, this event is our mission in action.” 

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