In the United States, more than an acre of farmland is lost to development and urban sprawl every minute—while at the same time, more people need access to local, healthy food. It's an important time for farmers, processors, distributors, vendors, and food buyers to come together and explore new opportunities to provide healthy food and sustain their businesses.
The good news is, institutional initiatives to provide local, healthy food have been increasing in New York State, one of the nation’s top food-producing states. In October, several Omega staff members joined other healthy food advocates at the Hudson Valley Farm to Institution Summit to discuss strengthening New York’s farm and food economy.
Held at S.U.N.Y. College at New Paltz, New York, the Summit was organized by the New York State Office of American Farmland Trust, with support from the Local Economies Project of the New World Foundation. At the Summit, Susan Grove, one of the Summit organizers and Omega’s community engagement manager, was joined by Robert Turner, executive chef and general manager of Omega FoodWorks, and Sandi Trillo, Omega dining hall manager.
Susan explained, “Institutions can positively impact the region economically and sustainably by making value-based food-purchasing decisions. Omega FoodWorks is a 3-star certified restaurant by the Green Restaurant Association that provides three healthy meals a day to nearly 20,000 people a year. Exemplifying Omega’s core value of sustainability, Omega FoodWorks prepares meals that emphasize organic and local ingredients purchased from Hudson Valley farmers.”
Speaking of Omega and the other Summit attendees, Robert added, “We all share the same goals. We strive to deliver healthy food, which has an immediately positive impact on everyone. My biggest takeaway from the Summit was the importance of networking, maintaining ongoing connections, and reciprocal education. We can all learn from each other.”
© 2014 Omega Institute for Holistic Studies