State Health Commissioner Wraps Up Two-day Trip In Central New York With A Visit to the 2023 Great New York State Fair

Commissioner McDonald's Visit Included Stops at Agency Booths, Dairy and Horticulture Buildings, Infirmary, and Emergency Operations Center

The Visit to the Fair Caps Off a Two-Day Trip to Central New York to Meet With Local Health Leaders

ALBANY, N.Y. (August 25, 2023) – State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald today wrapped up his two-day visit to Central New York by spending the day at the 2023 Great New York State Fair, an annual celebration of history and tradition in New York. Each year, close to a million people descend on the fairgrounds located just outside of Syracuse, for a 13-day showcase of exhibits, entertainment, technology, food and agriculture.

"The Great New York State Fair is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our farmers, products, culture and diversity," State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. "New York State has so much to offer agriculturally, and it's encouraging to know that abundant locally grown, healthy and delicious food is available across the state. Part of our mission in public health is also making sure these foods are accessible to everyone. There are a lot of programs that are helping, but we must continue to prioritize nutrition security and continue to advance programs that boost access to healthy and affordable food options."

Commissioner McDonald spent the day exploring this connection between local food and nutrition by visiting the dairy building and stopping at the New York Maple Center and Taste NY Marketplace in the horticulture building. Taste NY is celebrating its tenth anniversary and, over the last decade, the program has highlighted the quality, diversity, and economic impact of food and beverages that are grown, produced, or processed in New York State. It has also created new opportunities for producers, expanded retail locations, and forged partnerships across the state.

New York is a leading agricultural state, boasting products that include apples, potatoes, onions and cabbage; dairy products, like yogurt, cream cheese and cottage cheese; and much more. For nearly 30 years, the State Health Department has supported locally grown fruits and vegetables for WIC participants through sales at farmers' markets. The Farmers' Market Nutrition Program provides checks to women, infants and children through the Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC) and to seniors through the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) for the purchase of locally grown, fresh fruits and vegetables. Fresh fruits and vegetables can be purchased with checks at farmers' markets during the summer and fall.

Each year, close to a million New Yorkers visit the fairgrounds, with daily attendance close to 100,000 on its busiest days. To accommodate this attendance level and ensure everyone stays safe and enjoys their time, the Great New York State Fair has its own health care infrastructure. This includes Emergency Medical Services provided by AMR in collaboration with the infirmary and triage center run by Upstate Medical University.

Commissioner McDonald also met with Department staff in the Science & Industry Building, where the public can learn about tick and mosquito bite prevention or naloxone administration to reverse an opioid overdose, among other health tips. The Commissioner also visited the Environmental Health base, to learn more about the onsite restaurant inspections, food and water safety surveillance that happens during the fair.

Today's visit to the fair wrapped up a two-day trip to Central New York. On Thursday, Commissioner McDonald met with Family Health Network of Central New York leadership in Homer, N.Y., where he toured the Mobile Medical Unit and discussed plans for a new pediatric/OBGYN health center. From there he traveled to Cortland where he toured Family Health Network's Family Practice Health Center and the Pediatric Health Center.

Following his stop in Cortland, the Commissioner met with leadership at SUNY Upstate University Hospital, where he toured the hospital, including Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital. He also participated in a roundtable discussion about the local health care system with the leadership from Crouse Hospital and St. Joseph's Hospital, as well as Upstate University Hospital.

The visit was the latest in a series of regional tours by the Commissioner, with plans to continue visiting communities around the state to learn about the public health challenges and opportunities across New York.

For information about the Great New York State Fair, visit here.