State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today announced the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York has purchased more than 1.1 million pounds of surplus food from New York farmers since the launch of Governor Cuomo’s Nourish New York initiative in early May. This includes 387,681 pounds of nutritious dairy products, such as fluid milk, cheese, yogurt, and sour cream; 294,531 pounds of produce, such as apples, potatoes, and cabbage; 254,772 pounds of eggs; and 82,739 pounds of meat that have been provided to more than 45,000 households in need in the Capital, North Country, Mohawk Valley, and Hudson Valley regions.
Commissioner Ball said, “The Nourish New York 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. In a short time, this program has made a significant impact on our communities, and our partnership with the Regional Food Bank is helping to bring food to those in need while providing a market for excess product that our farmers found themselves no longer able to sell. I want to thank the Regional Food Bank for involving so many New York producers in the Nourish New York initiative.”
“We love the Nourish New York program,” said Mark Quandt, Executive Director of the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York. “It has been a tremendous benefit to thousands of people during this very challenging time. It allows food banks throughout the state to purchase high quality, nutritious New York State agricultural products, which we provide to food pantries, BackPack programs, and special distribution sites. Because of Nourish New York, people in need are receiving a variety of meat, cheese, eggs, produce, fruit juice, and other great foods to help keep them well fed and nourished until they get back on their feet. We are very grateful to New York State for establishing this program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and wish to especially thank the Department of Agriculture and Markets for their guidance in implementing the program and assistance with the purchasing process. They have been a great partner.”
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 so they can buy surplus milk, yogurt, cheese, vegetables, fruit, and more from New York farmers who have lost markets as a result of school and restaurant closures.
The Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York has purchased product directly from New York produce farms and dairy manufacturers, who purchase their milk from New York farmers. Products have been purchased from Battenkill Creamery (Salem); Hudson Valley Fresh (Poughkeepsie); Cabot (Chateaugay); Hudson River Fruit (Milton); Torrey Farms (Elba); Brey’s Eggs (Jeffersonville); Chobani (Norwich); Lynn-ette & Sons (Kent); Green Valley and A. Gurda (Pine Island); O-AT-KA (Batavia); and Lactalis (Buffalo).
Sam Simon, a founding farmer of Hudson Valley Fresh, said, “Our ten family farms are honored to partner with the Regional Food Bank to provide fresh, local dairy during this current crisis as a way to help absorb excess milk in the market and provide it to those in need.”
Daniel Brey, President of Brey’s Egg Farm, said, “I am a third-generation farmer. There used to be 150 egg farms here 30 years ago. Today, we’re the only one. We sell to mostly restaurants and food service suppliers, so when the shutdown happened, we lost 80 percent of our business overnight and needed an outlet for 60,000 dozen eggs each week. Since the Nourish NY program started in May, the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York has been able to purchase over 141,000 dozen eggs. This has helped us out a lot and we are very grateful we can help feed people in need.”
The Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York has held nearly 100 events and drive through food distributions in partnership with their network of member agencies in their 23-county coverage area. The Food Bank will host the following Nourish New York distribution events next week:
- Tuesday, July 21: Cherry Valley
- Wednesday, July 22: Stanford Central School
- Wednesday, July 22: Ticonderoga Elementary School
- Thursday, July 23: 230 Green Street Albany
- Friday, July 24: Worcester Central School
Nourish New York Impacts Statewide
As of this week, Nourish New York, statewide, has provided more than 5.4 million pounds of surplus dairy, produce, and other products to families in need. Food banks across the state have purchased more than $5.5 million in Nourish New York product from New York’s processors and farmers who have temporarily lost markets as a result of COVID-19. This includes more than 2.1 million pounds of dairy products, including fluid milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, and sour cream, and nearly 2.6 million pounds of produce, such as fruits and vegetables, that have been provided to nearly 182,000 New York households. There have been over 660 Nourish New York food distribution events held across New York to date.
The Nourish New York 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.