SOFSA is proud to work in partnership with Food Access Healthy Neighborhoods Now! (FAHNN), a grassroots organization working to bring food access to Syracuse’s Southside/Valley neighborhoods. The neighborhood is one of the most low-income, low-access neighborhoods in Syracuse, especially since the former Tops Supermarket in Valley Plaza shut down in 2018. Rhonda Vesey, SOFSA Community Liaison and FAHNN Valley Plaza Farmer’s Market Manager, has been working tirelessly to bring this issue to light for the past couple years.

On Monday, January 22nd, 2024, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand came to the Valley Plaza for a press conference, advocating for food access, transportation access, and support for the community. Mayor Ben Walsh said his team has reached out to numerous grocery store operators about opening on the south side but nobody’s interested. Gillibrand’s proposed bill would fully fund the USDA’s Healthy Food Financing Initiative, and double the allocation to $50 million in future years. The program provides grants and loans to fresh food retailers and supermarkets.

Read more in the articles below:

“This week I’m sending a letter to the senate appropriators asking that we fully fund this program. We need to make sure that it is fully funded and we want to make sure it’s actually a mandatory program.”

– Sen. Kirsten gillibrand