New Report Finds Significant Opportunity for SUNY to Grow Support for Local Farms and Health of College Students


David Haight, New York State Director


May 24, 2018– Today, American Farmland Trust and The New York Academy of Medicine released a new report, “On the Plate at SUNY: Growing Health, Farms and Jobs with Local Food.” The report found that if the State University of New York (SUNY) and its 64 campuses were to allocate 25% of their existing $150 million annual food budget toward New York-grown and minimally-processed foods, it would create $54 million of economic activity in New York.

“As one of the nation’s leading university systems, SUNY has an excellent opportunity to demonstrate that intentionally buying food grown in our state can help local farmers and improve the health of college students,” said David Haight, New York State director of American Farmland Trust. “New York farms produce an abundance of fruits and vegetables, milk, meats and other products that campuses are already buying. But, more can be done. Strong leadership and a commitment to spend at least 25% of SUNY’s food dollars on other foods grown in New York would have a dramatic impact on farmers and the state’s economy.”

Increasing the availability of fresh and minimally-processed foods from New York farms offered at SUNY dining halls and on-campus food pantries also has the potential to provide greater food security and improve the health of over 430,000 SUNY students.

“Ensuring that fresh, healthy, locally grown food has a permanent place on the public plate will provide important contributions toward advancing the New York State Prevention Agenda—the state’s roadmap for health—and educational institutions can play a significant role in this effort,” said Judith A. Salerno, MD, MS, president of The New York Academy of Medicine.

The ‘On the Plate at SUNY’ report recommends:

  • Setting goals for the SUNY system and individual campuses to spend at least 25 percent of their food dollars on fresh and minimally processed foods grown in New York
  • Improving the tracking of fresh or minimally-processed foods purchased from New York farms
  • Allocating resources to support local food purchasing and promotion on SUNY campuses, including a system-wide Farm-to-SUNY coordinator and campus coordinator positions to promote and support local food purchasing across campuses

SUNY includes 64 campuses with more than 436,000 students and 91,000 faculty and staff. The report shares results from a survey conducted in 2017 of 55 SUNY campuses with dining. Twenty-three SUNY campuses completed the survey about food purchasing on their campus.

Read the full report, On the Plate at SUNY: Growing Health, Farms and Jobs with Local Food.

‘On the Plate at SUNY’ is the second in a series of reports developed by American Farmland Trust and The New York Academy of Medicine. The initial report, “The Public Plate in New York State: Growing Health, Farms and Jobs with Local Food,” provides an overview of how boosting public spending on fresh New York State-grown foods in schools, childcare centers, older adult centers, food pantries and other institutions has the potential to increase health and economic opportunity for the state.


About American Farmland Trust

American Farmland Trust is the only national conservation organization dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land. Since 1980, American Farmland Trust has helped to permanently protect more than 6 million acres of farm and ranch land. Learn more at

American Farmland Trust launched its collaborative Farm to Institution New York State initiative in 2013 to strengthen the economic security of farmers and health of New Yorkers by empowering institutions to spend at least 25% of their food budgets on food grown in New York. Learn more at    

About The New York Academy of Medicine

Established in 1847, The New York Academy of Medicine is dedicated to ensuring everyone has the opportunity to live a healthy life. Through our original research and policy and program initiatives we provide the evidence base to address the structural and cultural barriers to good health and drive progress toward health equity. This work and our one-of-a-kind public programming is supported by our world class historical medical library and our Fellows program, a unique network of more than 2,000 experts elected by their peers from across the professions affecting health. Learn more at