New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball today announced that dozens of farmers’ markets across the state are participating in the first-ever Give Back NY initiative in honor of National Farmers’ Market Week, August 2-8. Coordinated by the Farmers’ Market Federation of New York (Federation), Give Back NY invites farmers’ markets to connect with the emergency food programs and pantries serving their region to host food drives during National Farmers’ Market Week. So far, 46 markets across New York are taking part in Give Back NY. Starting this weekend, consumers and farmers are encouraged to join in and support this effort. The full list of participating markets and how to get involved is available online.
Commissioner Ball said, “Give Back NY celebrates communities who have continued to support their local farmers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We are proud to see so many farmers’ markets participating in this great program, which lets them honor the support they have received over the past few months by helping others give back to those in need. I encourage everyone to find out if their local market is participating in Give Back NY, and visit a farmers’ market this week with an extra donation for those in need.”
Diane Eggert, Executive Director of the Farmers’ Market Federation of New York said, “Give Back NY aims to help alleviate hunger in communities, inspire awareness in each community of local pantries and the work they do, and help develop a lasting partnership between the markets, farmers, and food programs that serve local families. Ultimately, we hope that Give Back NY will help launch a “give back” that keeps on giving.”
Give Back NY was inspired by New Yorkers’ tremendous support of farmers’ markets and local farmers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative is a week-long celebration of local food that emphasizes donations to community food pantries as a means of sharing the bounty. Consumers and farmers are encouraged to offer donations to their neighborhood food programs during their visit to the farmers’ market during this coming week.
Forty-six markets across New York are taking part in Give Back NY in ways that are unique to their community and producers. Some participating markets include:
The Rochester Public Market, which is encouraging customers to help ensure food access to all and alleviate hunger by participating in the Give Back NY efforts. Customers can purchase one or more $5 market gift tokens when shopping at the market from now through August 8. These gift tokens will be donated to a local food pantry that shops regularly at the market.
The Aurora Farmers Market, which has established a partnership with the King Ferry Food Pantry for Farmers’ Market Week. The market will have tables set up on Saturday, August 1 and August 8 to accept donations from customers as well as from vendors. The market and food pantry are working together closely to ensure that all donations received will be delivered quickly to the community members who need them most.
This is the first year that the Federation has launched a coordinated effort in celebration of Farmers’ Market Week. The Federation put together a toolkit to help both food pantries and farmers’ markets prepare for and implement Give Back NY. For markets, the toolkit including guidelines for communications, strategies for working cooperatively to benefit local food pantries, contact information for emergency food programs, and sample social media posts to help build consumer awareness for the week-long celebration. For food pantries, the toolkit contained details on participating in a farmers’ market, suggestions for communicating with markets and consumers, and signage and social media template material.
Margaret O’Neill, Program Director with the Friends of the Rochester Public Market, said, "Our market is delighted to encourage our shoppers to help ensure food access for all and alleviate hunger by participating in the Give Back NY effort. It is as easy as purchasing one or more $5 market gift tokens when shopping at the market during National Farmers’ Market Week. These gift tokens will be donated to a local food pantry that shops regularly at the market, thereby extending their ability to provide fresh local foods to our neighbors in need."
Debbie Patrick, Executive Director of the King Ferry Food Pantry, said, “The King Ferry Food Pantry welcomes this opportunity to create relationships with more of our local farmers and home gardeners who want to make the community more food secure for their neighbors in need. Every donation helps a family to stretch their food dollars and increases their self-sufficiency. We know local produce is picked at its peak of freshness - offering premium taste. And local farms have unique varieties of foods, which allows food pantry clients the opportunity to try new items and stretch their culinary imagination. We are grateful for the Aurora Farmers Market partnering with us for National Farmers’ Market Week, and thank participants for giving back to the community!”
New York’s farmers have long been generous donors of their agricultural products, especially during COVID-19 as the numbers of those in need rose throughout New York State. When many farmers lost major markets, such as schools and restaurants, after COVID shutdowns, the State stepped in to create the Nourish New York program. Nourish New York quickly reroutes New York’s surplus agricultural products to the populations who need them most through New York’s network of food banks. The State is providing $25 million to food banks and other emergency food providers so they can buy surplus milk, yogurt, cheese, vegetables, fruit, and more from New York farmers.
About Farmers’ Market Programs in New York
In the past decade, the number of farmers' markets in New York State has grown at a rapid rate, and new markets are created all the time. Today, New York has more than 400 farmers’ markets, 250 farm stands, and 10 mobile markets.
The Department supports the state’s network of farmers’ markets through programs that expand sales, promote improved nutrition, and help increase consumption of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables. These programs enhance the many important economic, educational, and social benefits that farmers' markets bring to their communities, like offering a marketplace for farmers to sell their products and providing healthy, local foods to consumers. Find out more at https://agriculture.ny.gov/farmers-markets.