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Highlights of the July 19, 2022 meeting of the Tompkins County Legislature

Legislature Accepts Food Systems Plan, Thanks Community Attendees

The Tompkins County Legislature heard a presentation from the Tompkins County Food Policy Council and Tompkins Food Future regarding the Food System Plan. The Legislature accepted the report unanimously (13-0, Legislator Granison was excused). Members of the Council presented a detailed report on what is included in the plan. Council member Katie Hallas stated, “We view this plan as a living document… we continue to build knowledge and understanding every day and it’s important that we include that as we go along.” Hallas added, “…as the food system continues to go through upheaval globally, these people will be impacted. If we want people to stay here and live here, we need to make feeding people a priority alongside housing, jobs, and education.” The plan includes a baseline study of the local food system as well as 9 goals and 47 recommendations for the future, and was based on engagement with over 2,000 people in Tompkins County.

A list of goals in the plan and provided to the Legislature and can be found below. To view the entire food system plan, visit the document online.

  • Goal 1: Mitigate and adapt to climate risks that affect the food system
  • Goal 2: Double local food production to sustainably meet community food needs and support the viability of local farms
  • Goal 3: Promote coordination and collaboration among food system stakeholders to meet community needs
  • Goal 6: Create opportunities for entrepreneurship, innovation, investment and fair employment in the food economy
  • Goal 4: Halve food insecurity rates by increasing access to affordable, nutritious, safe food
  • Goal 5: Grow land access and food production opportunities for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), low-income, and historically excluded residents
  • Goal 7: Protect natural resources by prioritizing climate smart practices
  • Goal 8: Provide widespread opportunity for community participation in food waste reduction and recovery
  • Goal 9: Integrate broad nutritional support for a healthier population

Legislature Chairwoman Shawna Black (D-Ithaca) thanked the Council and stated, “I’d like to thank the food policy task force for their comprehensive work preparing the plan to be considered by the Legislature today. You have done an absolutely excellent job of engaging the community, centering equity in your plan, and setting a path forward. I look forward to next steps and how our County and other organizations can implement the recommendations you make.” Veronica Pillar (D-Ithaca) added thanks, “I’m grateful for the work you’ve done. It’s well presented. I hope we can all go full-throttle ahead with moving recommendations forward.”

Legislator Anne Koreman (D-Ulysses), who chairs the Planning, Economic Development, and Environmental Quality committee thanked the Council for their work stated, “I’m impressed with the amount of information that has been gathered. Often we get an assessment, but this is impressive because it is also a plan… I started thinking about what happened at the start of the pandemic, and if you don’t think our food system is fragile, remember that. People were asking ‘how do I get food for my family,’ and I’m very proud of our County for finding ways to make it equitable and provide systems in place for others.”

Legislator Lee Shurtleff (R-Groton) shared a reflection on young people in his community facing food insecurity, including that his district does not have a grocery store within 10 miles. “I applaud the work that you’ve done. You’ve provided a framework for collaboration with local governments. I’m thinking about the area I represent and how it’s a large agricultural producing area with some of the least access to food.” Legislator Travis Brooks (D-Ithaca) who also works at the Greater Ithaca Activities Center (GIAC) added his reflection on how some kids who go to GIAC often go without meals and rely on the Center for meals during the summer and programming.

Among Other Business

Tompkins County Finance Director Rick Snyder announced his retirement from Tompkins County Government. Snyder thanked his staff, “they have stepped up already.” Snyder also thanked Legislators for their support in his time at Tompkins County. Snyder has served for 37 years in local government and almost ten years at Tompkins County, and he will retire later this year. Legislators thanked Snyder and remarked on his ability to make concepts of County finance and accounting easy to understand and accessible.

Project Director of the Community Justice Center Monalita Smiley presented an update on Reimagining Public Safety. The update included details on plans in progress, including the plan to make data from the District Attorney and Assigned Counsel’s offices public – community members and partners have been invited to participate in a working group to implement the plan. Smiley also shared that the Tompkins County Sheriff's Office’s unarmed pilot program has started, and that Sheriff’s Clerks have begun to take calls. More information on Reimagining Public Safety can be found at

In an effort to increase safety measures at the Tompkins County Human Services Building the Legislature approved unanimously (14-0) both a magnetometer and the presence of two armed Tompkins County Sheriff’s Deputies to screen visitors of the building. These measures are being supported by the County’s contingency fund, with anticipation of reimbursement from New York State for a majority of costs

The Legislature considered and passed (11-3 with Legislators Sigler (R-Lansing), Brown (R-Newfield), and Shurtleff (R-Groton) in opposition) a member-filed resolution brought forth by Legislator Rich John (D-Ithaca) that would urge State and national representatives to commence the process of amending the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution to read: “The people shall have a right to keep and bear Arms. The reasonable regulation of that right shall be delegated to the federal government and the individual States.” John detailed the toll of gun violence in the United States and the comparatively low number of gun deaths in other industrialized nations. John also reiterated popular support across political parties for sensible regulation of firearms. The resolution will be sent to the relevant federal elected officials.