County Officials and Local Partners Celebrate the Release of FoodPlanCNY

Multi-Year Research Project Highlights Key Recommendations for CNY Region’s Food System


County Executive Ryan McMahon and Chair of the County Legislature, David Knapp, today unveiled the recently completed FoodPlanCNY. Authored by Professor Matt Potteiger and the late Professor Evan Weissman and funded by the Onondaga County Agriculture Council, FoodPlanCNY brought together diverse voices from across Onondaga County to trace the movement of food from farms to tables in Central New York. The resulting plan includes actionable recommendations to build a stronger regional food system – one that ensures thriving farms, equitable food access, ecological integrity, and economic vitality in our communities.

“We’re looking more broadly with FoodPlanCNY to think about ways we can leverage our food system resources, our existing assets to really strengthen the economy of Central New York, to enhance these assets to achieve better environmental outcomes and to improve the health of our residents”

Evan Weissman in a recorded interview before his unexpected passing in April 2020.

FoodPlanCNY is the first comprehensive look at the vital role the food system plays in our region’s economy, environment, and public health. It builds on the unique assets of Central New York – productive agricultural lands, a distribution hub that connects farmers and food manufacturers to major markets of the Northeast, vibrant food cultures, retail markets and food service industries that provide jobs, organizations that support community gardens and food pantries, and one of the leading public composting facilities in the state. Yet, there are significant challenges here as well. Income disparities and lack of access to healthy, affordable food in many neighborhoods means 1 in 4 people in the county are food insecure (Onondaga County Community Health Assessment and Improvement Plan 2019-2021). The competition and pressures from increasingly global food production, distribution, and processing have resulted in a declining number of locally-owned farms and other food businesses. FoodPlanCNY offers a unifying vision for how to address these challenges and realize new opportunities for rebuilding local food distribution infrastructure, improving neighborhood food environments for everyone, promoting the environmental benefits of sustainable agricultural production, and expanding public participation and coordination of the numerous stakeholders in the regional food system.

“The Onondaga County Agriculture Council has been proud to support the important work of Professor Potteiger and Dr. Weissman in creating this plan. FoodPlanCNY charts a clear path forward for stakeholders across our county’s food system to collaborate to support a thriving agricultural sector and ensures that every county resident has access to the food they deserve.”

David Knapp, Chairman of the Onondaga County Legislature and Agriculture Council Co-Chair

Today’s event in Shed D at the CNY Regional Market was co-sponsored by the Onondaga County Agriculture Council and by the Syracuse-Onondaga Food Systems Alliance (SOFSA). SOFSA was established in response to an early finding of FoodPlanCNY: the need for more effective coordination among all stakeholders across the food system. This newly-formed food council aims to build a more resilient and equitable food system in Onondaga County. SOFSA was awarded $170,000 in federal funds through the competitive USDA Regional Food Systems Partnerships (RFSP) grant program to coordinate food system partners to collaboratively envision and enact a food system that works for everyone who lives, works, and eats in Onondaga County.

“The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the vulnerabilities of our food system both locally and globally. Grocery store shelves were missing items many of us rely upon, farmers were left without markets for their products, and lines at food pantries were long. By examining key pressure points alongside the many assets we have here in Onondaga County, FoodPlanCNY will help us to build a stronger, more resilient, and more equitable food system that meets the needs of everyone in our community.”

County Executive Ryan McMahon


What is a “food system”? According to FoodPlanCNY, a food system is comprised of the intricate network of steps that connect our food to those who ultimately consume it – the land on which it grows, as well as all the places and people involved in cultivating, harvesting, storing, processing, distributing, marketing, cooking, and sharing food around the table and even the processes for the disposal of waste at each stage along the way.

About FoodPlanCNY: FoodPlanCNY brought together diverse voices from across Onondaga County to tell the story of food. This collaborative effort assesses how we grow, distribute, market, consume, and dispose of food. The plan captures the strengths and aspirations of the county’s food system, and identifies steps to improve policies, programs, and individual actions that shape the way food moves from farm to plate.

About the Onondaga Agriculture Council: The Onondaga County Agriculture Council was created in 2012 to promote and preserve the local agricultural community. The Onondaga County Agriculture Council supports the agricultural community through education, promotion and advocacy programs.

About the Syracuse-Onondaga Food Systems Alliance (SOFSA): An independent food council founded in late 2019, the SOFSA serves as a network of food system stakeholders and a catalyst for change. SOFSA engages across sectors to advance projects, build linkages, and foster relationships that enhance the health and livelihoods of all people in Syracuse and Onondaga County. As of November 2020, SOFSA includes over 200 individual members from all across the county ranging from interested consumers to farmers, non-profit organizations and governmental officials to thriving food enterprises. To learn more about SOFSA and to get involved, visit

Press Contact: Maura Ackerman, Facilitator  
Phone: 315-552-0471