State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today announced the Food Bank of the Southern Tier has purchased 376,536 pounds of surplus food from New York farmers since the launch of Governor Cuomo’s Nourish NY initiative in early May. This includes 268,000 pounds of nutritious dairy products, such as fluid milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter and 108,000 pounds of produce, such as apples and potatoes. Through Nourish NY, New York State products have been provided to 6,500 households in need across the Southern Tier.
Commissioner Ball said, “The Nourish NY program was put into action incredibly quickly to address the immediate needs of our families and our farmers who are both struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In just a few weeks, this program has already made a significant impact on our communities, helping to bring food to those in need through the purchase of excess product that are farmers found themselves no longer able to sell.”
The Nourish New York initiative aims to quickly reroute New York’s surplus agricultural products to the populations who need them through the state’s food banks. The state is providing $25 million to food banks and other emergency food providers to buy surplus milk, yogurt, cheese, vegetables, fruit, and more from New York farmers who have temporarily lost markets as a result of school and restaurant closures and to bring that product directly to families in need.
Purchases have been made directly from New York produce farms and dairy manufacturers, who purchase their milk from New York farmers, such as Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Hudson River Fruit Distributors, Yancey's Fancy, Sorrento, and Kreher’s. In addition, Southern Tier farms and dairy processors have participated in the program, providing produce and dairy to food banks across the State.
The Food Bank of the Southern Tier serves Broome, Tioga, Tompkins, Steuben, Chemung, and Schuyler Counties. The Food Bank will host a food distribution event on June 26 at Windsor High School. Visit www.foodbankst.org/find-food to register for this and future events, and to learn more.
Natasha Thompson, Food Bank of the Southern Tier President and CEO, said, “The Nourish New York program has allowed our Food Bank to incorporate more nutritious, fresh foods, like produce and dairy, into our weekly Community Food Distributions across our six-county region. Not only do our families appreciate these products, but we are pleased to be able to support our New York State farmers who have always been so generous to us in the past. This is truly a win-win program.”
Lynne Bohan, VP of Communications and Government Affairs at HP Hood, said, “Hood’s Arkport facility is a proud member of the Southern Tier community, and our collaboration with Nourish New York has enabled us to support communities in our own backyard. The program is a win-win for us to be able to help local farmers and their families while preventing unnecessary food waste.”
The Nourish NY program is administered by the State Department of Agriculture and Markets and the New York State Department of Health. The initiative is being led by a special task force created by Governor Cuomo, which includes:
- Kelly Cummings, Director of State Operations and Infrastructure
- Richard Ball, Commissioner of Agriculture
- Rossana Rosado, Secretary of State
- Karim Camara, Executive Director of the Office of Faith-Based Community Development Services
- Fran Barrett, Director of Non-Profits
- Mike Hein, Commissioner of the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance
The State is asking any philanthropies that would like to help the State's food banks to contact Fran Barrett, Director of Non-Profits at [email protected]
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, New York food banks have seen a dramatic increase in demand, in some regions up to 200 percent, as many New Yorkers struggle to put food on the table. At the same time, New York’s farmers and producers have been faced with their own unprecedented extreme financial difficulties. Many have lost up to 50 percent of their markets through the closure of schools and restaurants, leaving them without a place to sell their perishable products.