Eat Real Movement Comes to Capital Region

Albany Food Desert Report graphic

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New, first ever Food Day report, released by the American Cancer Society, details Capital Region “food deserts” where low-income residents lack access to healthy foods

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Albany, NY (10/24/2011) - Where does the food we eat come from? How is it produced? Why do Americans eat the way we do? Those are just a few of the questions raised at the Capital Region’s first-ever Food Day event today.

With obesity rates among children and adults rising at an alarming speed, Food Day provides a chance to discuss the sources of our food and how it is consumed. Food Day is sponsored by the American Cancer Society, Capital District Community Gardens, American Diabetes Association, Honest Weight Food Co-op and the Shaker Heritage Society. Eating healthier can help prevent chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

A report released at Food Day showed a high prevalence of “Food Deserts” in Albany and Schenectady counties. Food deserts are communities that have poor access to healthy food options like fresh produce, milk and whole grains. Looking for an Oasis in a Food Desert makes several recommendations to increase access for low-income New Yorkers to fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy and whole grains including:

· Enacting a 1 cent per ounce sugar sweetened beverage (SSB) tax to reduce consumption of drinks known to contribute significantly to obesity.

· Earmark 20 percent of the SSB tax to implement and evaluate obesity prevention strategies like community garden projects, mobile market programs, corner store produce initiatives and expand the existing loan fund to attract supermarkets to food deserts.

· Incentives for supermarkets to return and stay in low income areas.

· Establish a moratorium on new licenses for convenience stores and fast food outlets within 1,000 feet of schools.

“Foods we eat can have a big impact on cancer risk and by eating healthy we can significantly reduce that risk,” said Blair Horner, Vice President for Advocacy, American Cancer Society of NY & NJ. “But some New Yorkers don’t have the option to make healthy selections because the only choice they have is high calorie fast food and processed foods from convenience stores. That needs to change.”

“Food is a basic human need, but many of our region’s most vulnerable families struggle to access fresh fruits and vegetables. Healthy food should be a right, not a privilege,” said Amy Klein, Executive Director of Capital District Community Gardens. “We need to continue to bring creative solutions for fresh food access to the Capital Region’s urban areas.”

Food Day is modeled after Earth Day and is intended to generate recognition of the challenges to changing the way Americans think about, produce and consume food. The ultimate goal of Food Day is to start a grassroots movement to “Eat Real” in communities across the U.S. Food Day was founded by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Local farmers, businesses, advocates and interested organizations participated in Food Day, displaying products, offering samples, tasting opportunities and educational materials. Partnering groups attending included Cornell Cooperative Extension of Albany County, Community Cradle, Capital District YMCA, The Sylvia Center at Katchkie Farm, Field Goods, Unwritten Tablet Utilitarian Restoratives, Shop Rite, Commission on Economic Opportunity and Price Chopper.

Additional Resources:
Looking for an Oasis Report for New York's Capital Region [PDF 1.37 MB]
Background on Food Day
American Cancer Society guidlines on nutrition and physical activity



About the American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society combines an unyielding passion with nearly a century of experience to save lives and end suffering from cancer. As a global grassroots force of more than three million volunteers, we fight for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. We save lives by helping people stay well by preventing cancer or detecting it early; helping people get well by being there for them during and after a cancer diagnosis; by finding cures through investment in groundbreaking discovery; and by fighting back by rallying lawmakers to pass laws to defeat cancer and by rallying communities worldwide to join the fight. As the nation’s largest non-governmental investor in cancer research, contributing more than $3.4 billion, we turn what we know about cancer into what we do. As a result, more than 11 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year. To learn more about us or to get help, call us any time, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit

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