Utica, NY (WIBX) - The New York State Food Policy Council was awarded a highly competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to conduct a 2 year study, to develop a plan to end hunger, and improve access to healthy and affordable foods. Utica Mayor David Roefaro says despite Agriculture being the number one industry in the state, food deficiency is still a problem for many in the area.

"These federal dollars will help to promote a public, private partnership to gain access to  affordable fresh food in the Mohawk Valley. And, thanks to our partners in the USDA we will all benefit from a new approach to the food policy that will educate, sustain and usher in a commitment to buying, thinking and living local," Mayor David Roefaro said.

Roefaro said the $100,000 grant will advance the goals of the nation's first Food Policy Council, which was formed by Rust To Green Utica and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County. Officials with the Council say they are also looking for ways to help farmers increase their production by mandating that the state's grocers purchase more locally grown and produced Agricultural products. Mayor Roefaro said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand -- who was instrumental in securing the grant -- is the first lawmaker from the state, in 40 years, to sit on the Senate Agriculture Committee.