Andrew Gounardes: Politician and Food Policy Advocate

by Deirdre Appel

Name: Andrew Gounardes 

Age: 36

Political Title: New York State Senator representing the 22nd district

Party Affiliation: Democrat

Hometown: Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York

Current residence:  Bay Ridge, Brooklyn,New York

Educational Bio: Undergraduate degree from Hunter College and law degree from George Washington University 

What He Cares About: Senator Gounardes serves as the Chair of the civil services and pensions committee and is a member of the higher education and New York City education committees, among several others. In addition to the issues he supports, Senator Gounardes cares about creating positive change by involving all members of the community. 

As an attorney and community advocate, Senator Gounardes’ experience taught him that no one can accomplish anything good by themselves:  It takes a community willing to unite, organize, and stand together to help our neighborhoods thrive,” his website reads.  

Recent Food-Related Policies He’s Supported: While the bulk of Senator Gounardes’ recent  legislative efforts have focused on transportation or civil services and pensions, on January 21, 2020, he introduced  new legislation that would require the Commissioner of Education to create a model climate-change curriculum that would be incorporated into science, social studies, history and health classes in all public elementary and secondary schools. The curriculum would include topics such as environmental justice, sustainability, fishing and wildlife, energy, public health, waste reduction and recycling among others and would be updated every four years to reflect new scientific knowledge on these subjects. 

“The fact that the biggest existential threat of our time is not a standardized part of our public school curriculum is a glaring hole in our education system,” Gounardes said. “If we are to understand the nature of this complex threat and address it at every level, today’s students must understand the problem.”

Climate change places our entire ecosystem in danger. More frequent and extreme weather patterns, rising temperatures of both land and ocean, and rising sea levels are all signs of climate change. Scientists warn that our natural habitats are at risk for becoming uninhabitable if the current course is not corrected. Increasing pollution, meat consumption, air travel, greenhouse gas emissions, and unsustainable energy consumption all contribute to the problem, and our food systems are directly impacted. 

Climate change affects the amount and quality of crops grown for human and animal nutrition. And according to the OECD, productivity is expected to decrease for about half of fisheries worldwide as a result of climate change impacts on stock productivity and on fish migration patterns. Livestock production diminishes with climate change, as heat decreases fertility and a reduction in crops limits the animals’ nutrient intake and survival rates.  

“For too long, the public conversation about climate change has been distorted by fossil fuel companies and politicians with an interest in maintaining the status quo. It is now imperative for students to understand the science, the history, the politics and health implications of this global emergency,” said Gounardes

Young people today will be the demographic most affected by climate change in the future, and the legislation aims to provide them with the knowledge the need to understand the complexity of the problem and create solutions to combat it, including those related to our food systems. 

Food-related news and press releases for State Senator Gounardes:

Learn more about State Senator Gounardes here.

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