Volunteers packing boxes at the Nourish NY event.
May 8, 2020
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Albany, NY

State Agriculture Commissioner Announces Kickoff of Nourish NY Initiative With Food Distribution Events Across the State

State Agriculture Commissioner Announces Kickoff of Nourish NY Initiative With Food Distribution Events Across the State
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Island Harvest Event Today Provided New York Dairy, Produce, and Meat Products to 3,000 Families in Need
Drive-Through Events Scheduled in Communities Across New York Will Help to Put Food on the Table for 20,000 Households Impacted by COVID-19 Over the Next Week
Nourish NY Supports New York Farms by Helping Food Banks Across the State Purchase NY Food and Products to Distribute to Communities in Need

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today announced that dozens of events are taking place across New York State over the next week to kick off the Nourish New York Initiative. The initiative, launched last week by the Governor, is providing $25 million to food banks for the purchase of surplus agricultural products from New York State farms to distribute to populations who need them most. The first event took place today on Long Island, where the Island Harvest Food Bank held a drive-through food distribution event to provide New York grown and produced products to 3,000 families impacted by the coronavirus. The State’s other food banks are each holding similar events in the coming days, continuing to bring food to those who need it most while supporting New York farmers.

Commissioner Ball said: “I’m proud to kick off the Governor’s Nourish New York initiative with Island Harvest on Long Island. Our food banks have been doing tremendous work to feed people in need, especially at this unprecedented time, and today we are seeing our work to connect our families, our food banks, and our farmers realized. The program is bringing New York products to those who need them most, while supporting our farmers and producers. We look forward to seeing many more of these events in the days ahead.”

Island Harvest’s drive-through food distribution event kicked off the Nourish NY Initiative today, benefiting thousands of families. Products grown and produced in New York State were distributed to people in need in six communities impacted by the coronavirus on Long Island, including Amityville, Copiague, East Farmingdale, Farmingdale, East Massapequa, Massapequa, Massapequa Park, North Amityville, and West Babylon.

Distributed products included New York dairy, produce, and meat that were purchased by Island Harvest through funding that they received from Nourish NY. Products included:

  • 14,000 units of yogurt from Chobani (Norwich, New York)
  • 3,500 units of mozzarella from Galbani Cheese (Buffalo, New York
  • 7,000 pounds of Ruby Frost apples from Hudson River Fruit Distributors (Milton, New York)
  • 3,500 pounds of hot dogs and sausages from Lucki 7 Livestock Farm (Rodman, New York)
  • 3,500 gallons of milk from Queensboro Farms (Canastota, New York)
  • 3,500 units of greens from Satur Farms (Cutchogue, New York)
  • 14,000 units of New York Juice Co. grape juice from Splendid Blend (Great Neck, New York)
  • 3,500 pounds of onions, 7,000 pounds of potatoes, and 3,500 heads of cabbage from Torrey Farms (Elba, New York)

Hudson River Fruit Distributors, Lucki 7 Livestock Farm, Satur Farms, Chobani, and New York Juice Co. are also part of the New York State Grown & Certified program, which indicates that they have been certified for safe food handling and environmental stewardship.

Many other events are planned across the State by each of New York’s 10 food banks and will be held in the coming days. These include:

  • Tuesday, May 12: Food Bank of Central New York will host a community food distribution at the New York State Fairgrounds. The drive-through style distribution will take place from 12 pm to 3:30 pm at the Horticulture Building. Individuals and families interested in receiving food must preregister using www.eventbrite.com, searching for the event titled: Nourish NY food distribution.
  • Tuesday, May 12: Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York will partner with Whitehall Central School District for its community food distribution event at the Whitehall Central School District beginning at 10 am. The drive through event is expected to benefit 400 households.
  • Wednesday, May 13: Food Bank of the Southern Tier will host a community food distribution event at Owego Central School from 10 am to 1 pm. The drive through event is expected to benefit 500 households.
  • Wednesday, May 13: Foodlink in Rochester will host a community food distribution event at Rochester Public Market from 12 to 2 pm. The drive through event is expected to benefit 500 households.
  • Friday, May 15: Food Bank of the Southern Tier will host a community food distribution event at Windsor High School from 10 am – 1 pm. The drive through event is expected to benefit 500 households.
  • Friday, May 15:  FeedMore WNY will host a community food distribution event at 238 Ontario Street in partnership with Hearts for the Homeless from 12 pm to 2 pm.  The drive-through event is expected to benefit 150 households. 

For additional upcoming events in your area in the coming weeks, reach out to your local food bank.

Randi Shubin Dresner, President and CEO, Island Harvest Food Bank said: “The unprecedented economic upheaval brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, coupled with Long Island’s high cost of living, has created an unparalleled standard of need. Thanks to Governor Cuomo, Nourish New York not only helps get high-quality, New York-produced food onto the tables of those who need it, but provides a much-needed economic stimulus for the state’s agricultural community, while preventing good, wholesome food from going to waste.”

Peter McGuinness, President, Chobani said: “We’re honored to participate in the kick off of the Nourish New York program, providing much-needed support to dairy farmers with their milk supply and fellow New Yorkers who are struggling with food insecurity. Chobani is proud to support local food banks across New York and we look forward to continued collaboration with the State to help our neighbors in need.”

Alisha Albinder, Owner/Operator, Hudson River Fruit Distributors said: “We are very excited to be participating with the food banks of New York to supply locally grown fresh apples. Now more than ever, it is so important for our own state to support local economies, and for us to be self-sustainable!”

Yesterday, the Governor announced the Nourish New York Initiative is purchasing food and products from more than 2,100 New York farms and providing support to nearly 50 food banks, soup kitchens, and food pantries. Within the next week, more than 20,000 households across the state will receive Nourish New York products.

Nourish New York is working to quickly reroute New York’s surplus agricultural products to the populations who need them most through New York’s network of food banks. $25 million from the State's special public health emergency fund was allocated for food banks and providers most impacted by COVID-19. The State is also asking any philanthropies that would like to help the State's food banks to contact Fran Barrett, Director of Non-Profits at [email protected].

The Nourish New York Initiative is being led by:

  • 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

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.