Late last year, we shared exciting news: legislation (S.7534/A.8580) had been introduced in New York to enable public institutions to buy food that meets certain values-based criteria, including improved farm animal welfare. This afternoon, Senator Michelle Hinchey joined the ASPCA and other members of the Good Food Purchasing Coalition to kick off efforts to pass this law.
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This groundbreaking legislation would revise New York’s outdated food procurement laws, which currently require public institutions like schools, hospitals, and correctional facilities to source food from the “lowest responsible bidder.” This policy forces institutions to select the cheapest option for the food they prepare and serve, making it nearly impossible to purchase animal products that meet higher welfare standards. The measure will allow New York institutions to spend up to 10% more to source food from vendors that align with New York’s values: supporting animal welfare, environmental sustainability, racial equity, fair labor practices, strong local economies and nutrition.
“Our purchasing power is one of the strongest powers we have as a society, and my bill will help communities in every corner of the state harness that influence in their food purchasing decisions, revolutionizing the way we feed New Yorkers through a values-based model driven by sustainability, equity, fairness and inclusion,” said New York Senator Michelle Hinchey. “This bill is a blueprint that provides direct pathways for public institutions to reward climate-forward food production, source from producers who respect workers’ rights, support small farms and BIPOC businesses with a direct benefit to local economies and elevate nutritious whole foods as the high-quality standard our communities deserve.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed just how fragile our industrial food supply chains are, creating an urgent need to build more resilient regional food systems,” said Bill Ketzer, Senior Director of State Legislation for the ASPCA Eastern Division. “This legislation will give institutions in New York the flexibility they need to procure food from sources meeting Good Food Purchasing Program standards, including more humane treatment of farm animals. As large-scale purchasers of animal products, a shift in preferences can drive wide-reaching improvements in farm animal treatment, and we are grateful to Senator Hinchey and Assembly Majority Leader Peoples-Stokes for seeking to ensure greater access to just, sustainable, and higher-welfare food for students and communities across New York State.”
New York has the opportunity to lead the country’s shift towards a more humane and sustainable food system. New York’s public institutions serve millions of meals each year–representing well over $1 billion of purchasing power. By harnessing the influence of procurement, this values-based initiative will enable institutions to raise the bar and improve the lives of millions of farm animals.
If you live in New York, take action TODAY and urge your representatives in the Senate and Assembly to support this critical legislation. With your support, New York’s public institutions could help improve the lives of millions of farm animals while also helping people and the planet.
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