ALBANY — State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today announced that Long Island Cares has purchased 392,975 pounds of surplus food from New York farmers since the launch of Governor Cuomo’s Nourish NY initiative in early May. This includes 15,552 pounds of nutritious dairy products, such as fluid milk, cheese, and yogurt, and 343,466 pounds of produce, such as apples, potatoes, onions, and kale that have been purchased from Long Island farms and provided to Long Island families.
Commissioner Ball said, “The Nourish NY 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 COVID-19. This program has already made a significant impact, with food banks like Long Island Cares bringing food to those in need through the purchase of excess product from our farmers. Long Island Cares has done tremendous work in purchasing the vast majority of products from Long Island farmers and producers, truly supporting the local ag economy.”
Long Island Cares CEO Paule T. Pachter said, “The Nourish NY program has been a tremendous boost to the work that food banks have been doing in responding to the increases in food insecurity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Having the ability to increase our distribution of fresh produce and dairy products for families in need, while simultaneously supporting the New York State and Long Island agricultural industries gives us the opportunity to lift people up from a difficult situation, and provide additional funding for our farmers, fisherman and growers so that they too can come through these very challenging times. Long Island Cares-The Harry Chapin Food Bank applauds Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Ball for their visionary leadership in responding to COVID-19 in the Empire State.”
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, meat, eggs, and more from New York farmers who have lost markets as a result of school and restaurant closures.
Long Island Cares has purchased product directly from New York produce farms and from dairy manufacturers who purchase their milk from New York farmers. Long Island Cares has also initiated purchasing Long Island fish from local Long Island fish processors. Products have been purchased from Deer Run Farm (Brookhaven, NY) Hapco Farms (Westhampton, NY), Haskell’s Seafood (Quogue, NY), Balsam Farms (Amagansett, NY), Slate Foods, (New York, NY) and Nounos Creamery (West Babylon, NY).
Capt. Peter Haskell of Haskell’s Seafood, said, “Together we have innovated the landscape of our local fisheries through an unprecedented time. The Nourish NY program has empowered the hardworking men and women on our waters and in our facility to provide local seafood sustenance with tremendous gratification each step of the way. Having worked closely with Long Island Cares through this time, the synergies of caring deeply about our community is clearly a demonstration of local resilience at its best.”
Julia Van Loon, owner of Slate Foods, said, “Slate Foods was hard hit when we found ourselves now sitting on massive inventories of our local New York State beef once destined for distribution to schools across the state through June. The launch of Nourish NY shortly after schools closed was our first glimpse of any silver lining. In a matter of days, Long Island Cares made sure that they found a way to purchase, receive and distribute every pound we sent for the community to receive and then feed their families. Thanks to Nourish NY, this partnership has been the best thing to come out of this pandemic and we will be forever grateful to Long Island Cares.”
Long Island Cares -The Harry Chapin Food Bank has been distributing Nourish NY food boxes at their six Hunger Assistance Satellite Centers, 19 Food Bank Pop-Up Distribution Sites, and through 336-member community food pantries. Visit their website to find a local food distribution location at https://www.licares.org/.
As of this week, Nourish NY has provided funding to New York’s food banks to purchase more than 7.6 million pounds of surplus product. Food banks across the state have purchased more than $8.9 million in Nourish NY product from New York’s processors and farmers who have temporarily lost markets as a result of COVID-19. There have now been over 1,000 Nourish NY food distribution events held across New York, helping over 250,000 households in need since the program launched.
The Nourish NY 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 COVIDPhilanthropies@exec.ny.gov.
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.
–NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets
For more articles out of New York, click here.