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History in Tompkins County

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Ithaca’s history of nonprofit food inclusivity begins with Loaves & Fishes, which was started in 1983 after a local reverend, sharing a meal with her committee, also invited in homeless individuals outside the St. John’s Episcopal Church. Tompkins County’s passion for sustainability extends to inclusive food systems, seen in Project Growing Hope at Ithaca Community Gardens (the garden has been around since 1976) and followed by Wood’s Earth and the Groundswell Center.


Despite these resources, many individuals in Tompkins County live in a state of food insecurity. In the 2009-2010 school year, 26 percent of students in the Ithaca City School District, 35 percent of students in the Dryden School District, and 11 percent of students in the Lansing Central School District were eligible for free or reduced lunch (Source). The 2010 census indicated that 10.10 percent of Ithaca households have food stamps (Source).

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Current Status

Citizens have developed a Food Policy Council for Ithaca and Tompkins County, in order to take food policy into their own hands to advise local governments and promote policies that encourage a more locally based, sustainable food system. They are always looking for potential Council members who can “represent diverse policy stakeholders, including low-income consumers, farmers, food workers, and food business owners.” 


In the past four years, the Town Board has adopted a resolution to participate in the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which committed the Town to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change; hired a Sustainability Planner to carry out sustainability planning, goal development, and implementation; and became a member of ICLEI. The town hopes to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020, and by 80% by 2050. 


Food Insecurity Volunteer Opportunities

Community Organizations