ALBANY — State Senator Jen Metzger (SD-42) has introduced a bill (S8504) that would double funding for the state’s farm to food bank program, Nourish NY, using $25 million of unallocated funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020 or other future federal stimulus funding. The Nourish NY Initiative, created in response to the growing problem of food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic, provides funding to food banks throughout the state to purchase New York-produced fruits, vegetables, and dairy products for distribution to local food pantries and community groups serving food insecure households.
As Chair of the Senate’s Agriculture Committee, Senator Metzger has been working closely with New York farms and the Department of Agriculture and Markets during the COVID-19 crisis to make sure that farm-fresh products in the region can be purchased by food banks to serve food-insecure communities in need. The initial $25 million for the program came from supplemental funding provided in the 2020-2021 state budget in anticipation of emergency needs during this difficult time. Senator Metzger’s bill would enable the program to be expanded as the need continues to grow, allocating an additional $25 million of federal stimulus monies to the program.
“As a result of the disruptions and financial hardships caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, New Yorkers are experiencing real food insecurity while many farmers and processors throughout the state are struggling with significant market uncertainty,” said Senator Metzger. “Increasing funding for this state program is a great way to support our farms while also addressing the growing problem of food insecurity during this difficult time.”
Dan Egan, Executive Director of Feeding New York State said, “Feeding New York applauds Senator Metzger’s leadership in seeking additional funding for Nourish New York. Our food banks have been able to feed more New Yorkers while strengthening our relationships with New York’s farmers. Expanding this program will provide the help farmers and our hungry neighbors so badly need.”
Nick Cipollone, Owner and Grower at Barthel’s Farm Market said, “This bill and the additional funding it provides really addresses two important needs during this challenging time. Bridge funding for farms that are struggling as many of their normal sales outlets were shut down and increased access to local food for many of our most underserved communities. It is a win win and we appreciate the hard work of Senator Metzger in continuing to go to bat for our farms and find creative ways to support us.”
Jen Metzger represents the 42nd Senate District, which includes all of Sullivan County and parts of Delaware, Orange, and Ulster Counties. Senator Metzger serves as Chair of the Agriculture Committee and sits on the Environmental Conservation, Education, Health, Energy and Telecommunications, Local Government, Women’s Issues, Domestic Animal Welfare, and Legislative Commission on Rural Resources Committees.
–The Office of State Senator Jen Metzger
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