State will continue Nourish NY food distribution program

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 December 2021 at 9:03 am

Cooperative Extension serving about 275 households with food distributions

Photo by Tom Rivers: Marsha Cook, a 4-H volunteer, and Peter Beach, a buildings and grounds employee for the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Orleans County, work together getting cans of corn and beans ready as part of a pop-up food pantry on July 12 at the Fairgrounds.

The Nourish New York program has permanently enshrined into state law. Governor Kathy Hochul on Nov. 20 signed the legislation, reaffirming New York’s commitment to providing support to those facing food insecurity across the state.

The Nourish New York initiative reroutes New York’s surplus agricultural products to the populations who need them most through the state’s food banks. The program also provides much-needed support for the food producers and farmers who have lost markets as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic because the state’s food banks are buying agricultural products from New York farmers and food processors, Hochul said.

The program provides some of the food for about 275 households in Orleans County during recent distributions at the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds.

This week’s distribution at Fairgrounds served 281 households and a total of  895 people, according to the check in.

The Fairgrounds will be hosting distributions on Jan. 3, Jan. 31, Feb. 28, March 28, April 25, May 23 and June 27.

The distributions used to have volunteers setting 20-pound boxes of food in the trunks of vehicles. The Extension in July shifted to a pop-up food pantry. In the new format, people park their cars and go into the Lartz Building and pick and choose what food they want.

Hochul’s Office said through three rounds of the program, New York’s food banks have purchased over 35 million pounds of New York food products, which equates to 29,800,000 meals.

In this fourth round, to date, New York’s food banks have purchased 6,903,366 pounds of food, creating an additional 5,752,805 meals for households in need. A total of $85 million has been committed to Nourish NY since its launch in May 2020. Nourish NY food purchases have positively impacted 4,178 businesses across the state, Hochul’s office said.

“Nourish NY served as a critical pipeline getting food from our farms to people in need during the pandemic, especially when there were serious disruptions in the supply chain,” said New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher. “Nourish NY will continue to assist farmers with the costs of harvesting, packaging, and transporting fruits, vegetables, dairy products and more while making sure all New Yorkers can put food on their tables. It is important that we continue to work together to strengthen New York agriculture and our local food system, so we have the ability to feed ourselves long after the pandemic subsides.”