This past Thursday, January 7, Assemblymember Daniel Rosenthal announced his new appointment as the Chair of the Assembly Task Force on Food, Farm, and Nutrition Policy.

“The past year has exposed the massive food insecurity issues facing our communities,” said Rosenthal. “I am humbled to be appointed as chair of this task force as we work to create policy that expands access to healthy food, bridges the gap in food insecurity, and supports New York’s local agricultural sector. Now more than ever, we must affirm our commitment to ensuring that no New Yorker goes hungry.”

A report by the New York State Health Foundation, estimated that nearly one in every ten New Yorkers faces some form of food insecurity. This number has been certainly exacerbated by the recent pandemic and its economic impact.

This assessment has been confirmed by the influx in clientele at the local food pantry distribution sites in Kew Gardens Hills. The unbelievable contributions of Met Council on Jewish Poverty along with the many selfless volunteers that kept our city fed have taken on part of this burden. Rabbi Shlomo Nisanov’s Kehilat Sephardim pantry has been pushed to the brink and now operates more hours than ever. The Chazaq Organization recently opened a permanent food distribution location just off Main Street on 72nd Avenue to assist the growing need in Kew Gardens Hills for supplemental food options. Masbia of Queens now operates its Forest Hills location 24 hours a day, a sign of the insurmountable need to provide food to our community. These distribution sites operate in addition to other longstanding institutions, including the work of Tomchei Shabbos of Queens, Pomonok Food Pantry, First Reformed Church of College Point, and others.

Assemblymember Rosenthal has organized numerous food distribution events across our 27th Assembly District. Through supporting local pantries, highlighting farmers markets, and securing city and state resources for nonprofits in Queens, Rosenthal has been acutely aware of the issues facing our community. Recognizing the varying needs of residents, Rosenthal also worked to secure kosher and halal meal services at local city schools. Furthermore, he is the sponsor of several pieces of legislation that expand access to fresh produce in New York’s food deserts.

In his new role as Chair of the Task Force, his first appointed role of a taskforce chair, Rosenthal will focus his attention on expanding these efforts statewide. By leveraging the existing strong agricultural community in New York, the Assemblymember hopes to increase access to affordable, healthful food.

Rosenthal, who was the youngest member of the New York State Legislature since his election in 2017, has previously chaired the Subcommittee on Intergenerational Care and is a member on the committees for Aging, Home, Health, Insurance, Labor, and Real Property Taxation.

By Shabsie Saphirstein