Utica, NY (WIBX) - Rust to Green Utica has announced the creation of the state's first local Food Policy Council.

Launched with help from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County, the council is made up of city and county governments, local not-for-profit organizations, educational institutions, farmers and local residents.

The goals of the Food Policy Council are to decrease food insecurity, improve health and increase the amount of locally and regionally grown food in the community.

Cornell Cooperative Extension Executive Director Ron Bunce says the council will find more opportunities for local farmers.

"One of the things we need to do," Bunce said, "is really look at mapping our entire food system, surrounding the city of Utica to identify strategies for getting some of that food into the cities. Perhaps into the school districts. We're already doing some work with our prison systems, getting local sweet corn into the prisons."

He says although food is a basic human need, local governments in New York don't have a comprehensive planning process to ensure access to healthy foods for all residents.

The new council will also help with the development of community gardens, food co-ops and farmer's markets.