Dutchess County’s Food Security Council Meets

Poughkeepsie – The first Dutchess County Food Security Council, created by Dutchess County Executive Sue Serino, held its inaugural meeting last Thursday, May 16. Sereno first announced the creation of the council in her State of the District address in March.

“There are a record number of individuals seeking resources from over 65 food pantries in Dutchess County, and that number has only increased following the pandemic,” Dutchess County Executive Sue Serino said. “This is an issue that affects people from all walks of life. By bringing the right people to the table, the Food Security Council can provide guidance to policymakers on how best to address hunger, and we can strive to improve access to healthy, locally grown food for all our neighbors.”

The Dutchess County Food Security Council was first proposed by Dutchess Outreach Executive Director Rene Villette-Miccio in response to the growing number of individuals and families who rely on the food pantry week after week.

“According to the most recent Feeding America report, 29,700 Dutchess County residents are food insecure. Our community’s food budget shortfall is $24,638,000. Although this is not limited to Dutchess County, it is extremely important that we work together to find solutions The charity food system was never intended to provide long-term nutritional support, nor can we. However, every week we receive more children, the elderly and workers who simply cannot afford a single daily meal Effectiveness We can do better, and we will.

The objectives of the Food Security Council include:
* Understand and measure food insecurity in Dutchess County, root causes, scale of the problem, and barriers to progress.
* Reducing food waste in Dutchess County;
* Maximize opportunities to purchase food. And
* Propose policies for Dutchess County to effectively reduce food insecurity.

Members of the inaugural Food Security Council and their industries include:
* René Villette-Miccio, Ph.D., Dutch Outreach
* Melissa Clark, United Way of the Dutch Orange Region
* Sabrina Marzouka, Commissioner of the Dutchess County Department of Community and Family Services
* Teresa Giovanniello, deputy commissioner of the Dutchess County Department of Community and Family Services
* Ewen Rafter, Commissioner of the Dutchess County Department of Planning and Development
* Allie Smith, Dutchess County Department of Behavioral and Community Health
* Nimesh Bhargava, Dutchess County Office on Aging
* Gibson Durnford, Ten Mile Farm
* Dennis Macieska, Vassar College
* Barbara Citarella, public health care consultant
* Christine Sergeant, Northeast Community Center
*Dutchess County Executive Office

Industries represented include philanthropy, food assistance, nutrition, agriculture, education, health, and government.

“I am very grateful to Renee Villette-Miccio for her call for the creation of the Food Security Council,” Sereno continued. “I look forward to hearing their feedback on how to improve this critical issue facing neighbors throughout Dutchess County.”

Individuals seeking more information, or to learn how to get involved with the Food Security Council, should contact the Dutchess County Executive Office at 845-486-2000 or email CountyExec@dutchessny.gov.

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