Albany, N.Y. – This week, the White House announced the commitments made by groups across the U.S. as part of the White House Challenge to End Hunger and Build Healthy Communities. The Alliance for a Hunger Free New York, a coalition of frontline community food providers (like food pantries and food rescue organizations), was one of the organizations recognized for their commitment to end hunger by expanding access to food resources and amplifying the voices of those experiencing food insecurity in New York State.

“With one in four adults acknowledging they have experienced food insecurity in New York, this past year, we have the moral imperative to make sure those struggling have information and access to food resources to help them make it through these challenging times”, said Natasha Pernicka, executive director of The Alliance for a Hunger Free New York. “Millions of New Yorkers are seeing the effects of food inflation at grocery stores, which has increased 25% since 2019, and are turning to food pantries in record numbers. Making sure that the voices of people experiencing the distress of not having enough food are included in policy and programs is integral to ending hunger.”

“Our challenges go beyond mere statistics—they are deeply personal to me. As a resident of the Finger Lakes region for my entire life, I’ve seen firsthand the impact of growing up in an environment where reliance on food assistance was a daily reality. The stress and stigma associated with poverty have shaped my perspective and fueled my commitment to making a difference. In confronting the stark reality of our current situation, where the demand for nutritious, no-cost food has surged, I am reminded of my own experiences. The escalating costs of providing this essential resource through our network of 26 partner agencies underscore the issue’s urgency.” Sayre Paradiso, Chair of the Tompkins County Food Distribution Network, Coordinator of the Panther Pantry and Community Closet, Tompkins Cortland Community College, and Member of The Alliance for a Hunger Free New York.

“Our community is positioned, for the first time, to create real solutions to the issue of food insecurity through a multi-disciplinary approach and focus from our local government. With resources directed to local organization and regional coalitions, we will emerge with best practices, efficiencies, and new practices to vastly improve food equity and access.” Renee S. Fillette-Miccio, PhD Executive Director, Dutchess Outreach, Member of The Alliance for a Hunger Free New York.

More on the commitment’s specifics:

A key tool to improving resource information sharing and access, The Food Connect Map and Database displays live information for food pantries, community meals and senior congregate meal sites, as well as WIC/SNAP registration sites throughout New York State. Leveraging existing data sources, The Alliance centralizes the data and relies on local food providers to maintain and update the information for their regions, as pantry hours of operation and days service can change. This provides a free, centralized location to easily and accurately inform community members who may be experiencing food insecurity where, when, and how they can access food.

The Alliance has also committed to amplifying the voices of local food pantries and lived experience experts. Lack of access to food impacts communities and people uniquely. This is why making critical and sustainable food system changes requires policymakers and community leaders to hear from those with lived experience directly and understand the intersectional effects of food insecurity. This is evident with recent events and advocacy work undertaken by The Alliance, such as The People’s State of the State, the group is committed to amplifying the experiences that will lead to systemic change.