State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today announced Feeding Westchester has purchased 694,412 pounds of surplus food from New York farmers since the launch of Governor Cuomo’s Nourish New York initiative in early May. This includes 232,750 pounds of nutritious dairy products, such as fluid milk, cheese, butter, and cottage cheese, as well as 414,992 pounds of produce, such as apples, carrots, onions, potatoes, lettuce and sweet potatoes, as of the end of last week, that have been provided to thousands of households in need in Westchester County.
Commissioner Ball said, “Nourish New York is successfully combatting the difficulties farmers and families are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic by connecting them through food banks such as Feeding Westchester. Our partnership with Feeding Westchester is a link that is helping to keep our state’s food businesses going and bring food to families in need. I want to thank Feeding Westchester for involving so many farmers and dairy processors from across the State in the Nourish New York initiative.”
Matt Honeycutt, Vice President of Feeding Westchester said, “For many families in Westchester, the crisis has left them food insecure. New York may be on the road to recovery and reopening, but the need is still there and will be for quite some time. Thanks to the Nourish NY program, Feeding Westchester is distributing more fresh produce than ever in underserved communities disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 virus.”
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.
Purchases have been made directly from produce farms and dairy manufacturers from across New York State. Thanks to Nourish New York, Feeding Westchester has purchased:
- Produce from Fowler Farms (Wolcott), Torrey Farms (Elba), Northern Orchard (Peru);
- Dairy products from Great Lakes Cheese (Adams), O-AT-KA (Batavia), Chobani (Norwich), King Brother’s Dairy (Schuylerville), and Lactalis American Group (Buffalo);
- Eggs from Hudson Egg Farms (Elbridge); and
- More than 5,000 pounds of Monkfish from Haskell’s Seafood (Quogue).
Feeding Westchester has held more than 90 distributions while also continuing to supply food pantries and distributions from other organizations throughout this time. Visit Feeding Westchester’s website for information on distributions, to locate food pantries and soup kitchens, and to learn more.
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.