NY will buy $25 million in farm products for food banks

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 April 2020 at 6:58 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: Cows are pictured at the Van Lieshout farm in Barre in this photo from October.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a $25 million “Nourish New York” initiative today where the state will buy farm products and direct that food to food banks that are seeing increased demand during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The governor also welcomed philanthropists to step forward and buy produce and milk from upstate farmers that could be given to people through food banks.

“We’re seeing a tremendous demand in food banks,” Cuomo said during a news conference today. “The numbers are very, very high, and we need to address it.”

The state is committing $25 million in emergency funding to buy the produce and milk for the food banks.

“I’m also asking philanthropies to help,” Cuomo said. “Many philanthropies said they wanted to help and step up.”

The governor said supporting the food banks is a great way to support people in crisis.

Despite the demand for food many of the markets are disrupted, and some farm cooperatives are dumping food because the market can’t consume it, Cuomo said.

“This is just total waste to me,” the governor said. “We have people downstate who need food. We have farmers upstate who can’t sell their product. We have to put those two things together. It’s just common sense.”

The state will connect companies with dairies to buy the excess milk, yogurt, cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, and then give that to the food banks that are downstate, Cuomo said.

The governor also announced the launch of the Nourish New York Initiative to purchase food and products from Upstate farms and direct it to food banks across the state. The state will also be partnering with the state’s dairy producers – Chobani, Dairy Farmers of America, Upstate Niagara, Cabot Cheese and others – to process excess milk into products like yogurt, cheese, sour cream and cream cheese, that will be distributed to food banks and those in need.

The Nourish New York Initiative will be 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

The governor’s announcement was well received by the New York Farm Bureau.

“Governor Cuomo provided some much-needed good news today for the state’s farmers and our partners looking to feed fellow New Yorkers in need,” said Farm Bureau President David Fisher. “Our organization has been advocating for food purchase programs at the state and national levels to address the surging demand for food assistance as well as to help alleviate oversupply issues that are burdening our farms because of the loss of markets in the food service industry.”

Fisher said the agriculture industry in New York needs additional assistance.

“More needs to be done to support all New Yorkers,” Fisher said. “No farmer wants to dispose of the food they produce, but few farms can process and package their raw commodities, like milk, into products that can be purchased or donated to those in need.”

The Northeast Dairy Producers Association Inc. also praised the announcement from the governor in this tweet.

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