New York State and City Harvest joined together with the Masbia Soup Kitchen Network to purchase and bring New York State dairy products from Sullivan County’s Bethel Creamery, which uses milk produced on New York farms, to New Yorkers in need in Boro Park, Brooklyn. The delivery of 900 bottles of organic, kosher milk, and 120 cases of organic, kosher yogurt arrived at the Masbia Soup Kitchen on Thursday, May 14 and was distributed to the community that same day. The delivery was made possible through Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Nourish NY Initiative, which was created to provide support to New York’s communities in need and New York farmers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “Nourish New York is quickly rerouting surplus agricultural products from New York farms to New Yorkers in need. Thanks to the Governor’s support of this program, our food banks have received funding to buy more New York food, which helps our farmers who have faced serious market losses as a result of the pandemic and brings these nutritious products, including milk, yogurt, and other dairy products, to New York families. The partnership with City Harvest and Masbia Soup Kitchen is addressing a real need for kosher product and is already making a difference for the community and for Bethel Creamery.”
City Harvest’s Senior Manager of Procurement & Logistics Max Hoffman said, “Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, City Harvest has scaled up our operations significantly to continue to meet the need that existed pre-COVID and the growing need we are now seeing across the city. The Nourish NY Program is helping us provide more much-needed nutritious food, while also allowing us to easily support New York State farmers that desperately need it. It is so important to be able to connect the surplus of food upstate with the tremendous need downstate, and we are happy we could rescue kosher milk and yogurt from Bethel Creamery, and deliver it to Masbia Boro Park to help feed residents there. By working together, we are ensuring that, during these profoundly uncertain times, New Yorkers can feed themselves and their families.”
Masbia Soup Kitchen Network Executive Director Alexander Rapaport said, “Since the beginning of the outbreak, Masbia Soup Kitchen Network has experienced an over 500% increase in demand; close to 80% of the people on the daily breadlines are new first-time clients, New Yorkers from all backgrounds. The majority of the Masbia relief mobilization came from small dollar charity donations. It is extremely important for government to step up. As a network of Kosher emergency food agencies, there is always a challenge accessing commodity foods made available by the government. Last week’s delivery of dairy made possible by NYS Agriculture and Markets together with City Harvest is an historic breakthrough. Our great Governor Cuomo's innovative Nourish NY program found a way to quickly save milk and dairy from the small upstate family farmers of Bethel Creamery, which is a high standard Kosher brand, and buy them for Masbia of Boro Park where there is a great need for Kosher product. As soon as City Harvest learned that they could be of help, they jumped on the opportunity and in less than three days the milk is already being served and is in people's stomachs."
Eli Franklin of Bethel Creamery said, “Bethel Creamery is proud to provide our local, organic, kosher milk and dairy products to families in need in Brooklyn. The Nourish NY program has been so important in helping us to maintain our business, and in supporting the small family farms that supply our milk. We know that our surplus milk is going to good use through Nourish NY.”
Through Nourish New York, the State is providing $25 million in funding to New York food banks so they can purchase excess products, such as fruits and vegetables, from New York farmers and surplus dairy products from New York dairy manufacturers, to distribute directly to communities in need of food assistance. 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. 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. The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets is overseeing the Nourish NY program.
Bethel Creamery produces minimally processed, kosher organic milk, rich “Icelandic skyr” yogurt, and Greek yogurt at their growing dairy operation, Bethel Creamery, situated on their 135-acre farm in Swan Lake, NY. Milk only from their herd of Jersey and Jersey/Holstein cross cattle is used in the production of their dairy products.