On the Plate at SUNY

New report finds significant opportunity for SUNY to grow support for local farms and impact the health of college students across New York State.

On the Plate at SUNY, Growing Health, Farms and Jobs with Local FoodA new report, On the Plate at SUNY: Growing Health, Farms and Jobs with Local Food, found that if the State Univeristy of New York (SUNY) spent at least 25% of its food dollars on fresh and minimally processed foods grown in New York, it would create $54 million in economic output in New York State. 

SUNY is uniquely positioned to impact the economic security of New York communities through its food purchasing choices. With campuses located in 43 New York counties, SUNY purchases large volumes of fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meats and other foods with a annual food budget of $150 million. Decisions about the types of food purchased and the geographic origin of this food have a significant impact on farmers and the state’s economy

Fresh, healthy foods are associated with a lower incidence of obesity and chronic disease, which affects most of New York’s population. Increasing the availability of fresh and minimally-processed foods from New York farms offered at SUNY dining halls and on-campus food pantries has the potential to improve the health of over 430,000 college students. Consumption habits developed during the college years can have a lasting impact.

As one of the leading state university systems in the country, SUNY has a tremendous opportunity to become a leader in purchasing local food and supporting local economies. The lessons learned in this report can be applied to 271 public and private colleges and universities throughout New York State. 

The On the Plate at SUNY report also 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.

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

Download the report

Read the press release

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.