Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jola Szubielski, Lisa Koumjian 518-457-0752

October 20, 2016

State Agriculture Commissioner Joins the Fourth Annual Big Apple Crunch

Events Celebrating New York State Agriculture and Promoting New York’s Apple Producers Held Across the State

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today joined the 2016 Big Apple Crunch in New York City, sponsored by the FarmOn! Foundation, an agriculture-focused non-profit supporting educational youth programming.  The Big Apple Crunch is an annual event that celebrates New York State agriculture and promotes New York’s apple producers through food and nutrition education across the State.

Commissioner Ball, joined by the Commissioner of the NYS Department of Health and representatives from the United States Department of Agriculture, FarmOn! Foundation and New York City SchoolFood, helped lead dozens of middle school students and staff from Public School 96 in taking a bite out of a New York State grown apple.  The “crunch” followed an announcement of the expansion of the NY Thursdays program in schools across New York City.  NY Thursdays kicked off last year and features locally grown and produced foods on school menus. This year, the program has expanded to include New York State produced beef.

Commissioner Ball said, “The Big Apple Crunch is a fantastic opportunity to get our communities and schools involved in and to learn about agriculture.  It’s our goal to work together with our partners, through events like these, to ensure that New York’s school children are eating fresh and healthy local foods and that they understand where their food comes from and how it’s made.”

In addition to the event held at PS 96, dozens of Big Apple Crunch events were held throughout New York City and across the State.  The New York Apple Association joined the NYC Food Policy Center at Hunter College for a Big Apple Crunch at La Marqueta.  The event brought together hundreds of children to take part in fun and educational activities, and wrapped up with a record-breaking Big Apple Crunch.  The event also featured activity centers with apple art, games, tastings and nutrition education led by East Harlem organizations and small businesses.

In Albany, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) Senior Deputy Commissioner Jhone Ebert and Assistant Commissioner for Student Support Services Renee Rider joined more than 50 staff members from the NYSED Office of Child Nutrition on the front steps of the State Education Building this morning for the Big Apple Crunch.  They got into the spirit, simultaneously biting into locally grown, New York State apples to celebrate National Food Day and promote New York State food and farms.

Created through a partnership of GrowNYC and the NYC Office of Food Policy in 2012 and sponsored by the FarmOn! Foundation, the Big Apple Crunch originated as a way to celebrate National Food Day. In the first year of the event, approximately 400,000 New Yorkers bit into locally grown New York State apples at the same time in a universal call to action to raise awareness about supporting local agriculture. Since its inception, the annual Big Apple Crunch has expanded its reach, breaking a world record in 2015 with one million New Yorkers participating in the crunch.

This year, FarmOn! Foundation called on all New Yorkers to take the Big Apple Crunch Challenge and pledge to eat locally by participating in the Big Apple Crunch. For additional incentive to support the cause, crunchers who submit a #BigAppleCrunchChallenge video on social media can win $1,000 towards a FarmOn! Victory Garden, which will help bring fresh produce and educational opportunities to a school of their choosing.

NYS Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, “Fresh, locally grown produce is not only healthy but delicious as well. The Big Apple Crunch is a great event that raises awareness of just how lucky we are here in New York because our State produces some of the finest farm products in the world.”

New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said, “We know that when children are not hungry, they can focus on learning, and the New York State Education Department is proud to join the effort to further promote healthier communities for our students and their families. The Big Apple Crunch helps raise awareness of the critical need to ensure the availability of safe, fresh, nutritious and affordable food for all New York’s children.”

Tessa Edick, Founder and Executive Director of the FarmOn! Foundation said, “Inspiring people to connect to where their food comes from is paramount to changing the way we eat and the FarmOn! Big Apple Crunch is a fun way to celebrate the apple harvest and family farms that work hard to feed us well.”

NY Apple Association President Jim Allen said, “The NY Apple Association has been involved in the Big Apple Crunch for years and is pleased to provide the apples for a number of the celebrations going on across New York City and the State.  This event has grown, gaining more interest every year, and gives us an opportunity to promote New York agriculture and our state’s great apple producers.”

New York State ranks second in apple production in the nation, a standing it has held since 1996.  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, New York produced 1.36 billion pounds of apples in 2015, a nearly 8 percent increase over the previous year. The value of the State’s apple production also rose by nearly 10 percent to an estimated $275 million over 2014. 

The New York Apple Association reports the apple industry in the Empire State provides approximately 10,000 direct agricultural jobs in New York and thousands of indirect jobs through fruit handling, distribution, marketing and exports. 

2016 Press Releases