Agriculture_Markets
Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
 
   
Jola Szubielski, Kirstan Conley 518-457-0752

September 19, 2018

NYS Council on Hunger and Food Policy and Community Members Partner to Squash out Hunger

Host Volunteer Event at Local Food Bank Farm and Encourage Everyone to Get Involved During Hunger Action Month

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets joined with the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York and members of the State’s Council on Hunger and Food Policy today to highlight anti-hunger efforts underway across the state and encourage others to get involved during Hunger Action Month.  The group harvested squash and lettuce at Patroon Land Farm, which supplies the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York with fresh food.  The Regional Food Bank, one of ten food banks across the State, helps to feed over 40,000 people each week and distributes nearly 38 million pounds of food annually. Today’s event is one of several events happening across New York State to mark National Hunger Action Month.

Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “I’m proud to be a part of the Governor’s Council on Hunger and Food Policy and of the work our partners are doing to ensure that all New Yorkers, from school children to seniors, have access to fresh, healthy food. We encourage everyone to join us as we raise awareness about this important issue and get involved—whether at their local food bank, farm, or senior center.  Every volunteer effort will help us build on our work to ensure those in underserved areas are getting the healthy and nutritious food they deserve.”

Food banks in New York State distribute over 200 million meals and farmers donate nine million pounds of locally grown and produced food to families in need each year.

Today’s volunteer effort at Patroon Land Farm was one of dozens of events taking place this month to mark Hunger Action Month.  Foodlink in Rochester, Food Bank of Western New York, Food Bank for New York City, and Food Bank of the Southern Tier, City Harvest, among others, have hosted a series of volunteer events in September, including a motorcycle run and rally, a community kitchen and food pantry deep clean, and a Hunger Tour.  A sample of additional volunteering opportunities and Hunger Action Month events include:

  • September 22, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Go Orange Friends and Family Repack at the Food Bank of New York City’s Bronx Warehouse at 355 Food Center Drive, Hunts Point.
  • September 23, 9 a.m. to noon. Miles For Meals 5K Walk, sponsored by Feeding Westchester, Pace University, 861 Bedford Road, Pleasantville.
  • September 23, 2:30 p.m. If Music Be The Food at Park Central Presbyterian Church, 504 East Fayette Street, Syracuse.
  • September 28, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Go Orange at Farm 2 Food Bank, Food Bank of New York City, Union Square, Manhattan.
  • September 29, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. United Way of Buffalo and Erie County Family Volunteer Day, meal packing event, at Catholic Charities, 75 Caldwell Place, Lackawanna.

The public is also encouraged to volunteer at their local food bank, pantry, and food-bank associated farm this month and year-round.  To get involved in the Capital Region at the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York or to donate, visit https://regionalfoodbank.net/volunteer/, or to volunteer time at the Patroon Land Farm, assisting with the growing and harvesting of produce, please visit https://regionalfoodbank.net/volunteer-at-our-farm/.  In 2017, more than 2,000 volunteers donated 7,100 work hours to the Farm. 

In addition, the public can visit the Food Bank Association of New York State’s website at http://feedingnys.org/. The Food Bank Association of New York State’s is a non-profit organization representing the regional food banks located across the state. 

The Council on Hunger and Food Policy was established in 2016 to expand on the state’s existing programs to provide food assistance for New Yorkers in need. The Council works across various state agencies and sectors, identifying new policies and programs to improve access to healthy, locally grown food across New York State and help strengthen ties and cooperation between programs addressing hunger and those who produce and supply food. The Council has supported many creative efforts to combat food insecurity and hunger, including helping farmers donate foods through food banks and increasing the use of healthy and locally grown foods in school meals.

The Council supported the tax credit for farmers donating to food banks, which was enacted earlier this year to compensate farmers for costs associated with harvesting, packaging, and distributing local products to eligible food pantries, food banks and other emergency food programs across the state. Increased donations will help meet the growing demand for fresh, healthful foods in underserved communities across New York.

In addition, New York launched the No Student Goes Hungry Initiative with support from the Council. The initiative is a comprehensive program, which includes expanding access to free breakfast, ending lunch shaming, increasing the reimbursement schools receive for lunches for any district that purchases at least 30 percent ingredients from New York farms, and ensuring students in kindergarten through college receive access to farm-fresh foods in a quality-learning environment.

Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Samuel D. Roberts, said, “We have taken numerous steps to combat hunger and improve nutrition, working closely with our fellow state agencies and community partners. These actions have all contributed to enhancing the health and well-being of individuals, families and entire communities across the state. But we know there is more to do and encourage all New Yorkers to join the fight against hunger by getting involved in their own communities.”

Office for the Aging Acting Director Greg Olsen said, “Our state’s nutrition program is the largest in the country and a critical component in helping older New Yorkers maintain their health and autonomy. As a member of the Governor’s Council on Hunger and Food Policy, I am proud to play a role in the important partnerships state agencies and community organizations have in furthering our efforts as the first certified age-friendly state to make New York the healthiest state in the nation and a great place for people of all ages to grow up and grow older.”

Food Bank of Northeastern New York Director Mark Quandt, said, “The Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York is committed to being an integral part of addressing the problem of hunger in New York State.  We are fortunate to be able to work in partnership with the state and other agencies to meet the needs of hungry people today while building long-term solutions to hunger at the same time.  Today’s event as part of Hunger Action Month allows us to raise awareness of hunger and encourage all New York State residents to get involved in solving this serious problem.”

Renee St. Jacques, New York Farm Bureau Assistant Director of Public Policy, said, “New York Farm Bureau is proud to support Hunger Action Month. Last year alone, our farmers gave around 10-million pounds of food through the Harvest for All program which translates into more than seven-million meals being provided to New Yorkers in need. We encourage every farmer to think of their local food bank as a place to turn to for donations, especially during harvest season that is upon us right now.  Every New Yorker should have access to healthy, local food.”

Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Associate Dean Julie C. Suarez, said, “Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is pleased to partner with Governor Cuomo’s Council on Hunger and Food Policy on this important endeavor. Ensuring access to fresh, local, healthy and affordable food is a vital step in strengthening communities across New York. Creating a more equitable food system is essential to our children and communities and I am honored to work on this issue with so many partners dedicated to solving the issue of hunger.”

Price Chopper Senior Nutritionist Ellie Wilson said, “Price Chopper is a long-time partner with the Regional Food Bank, and also partners with food banks throughout our footprint. We have several initiatives that ensure healthy food is available to those in need, including the Check Out Hunger program, held each November for over 10 years; the Fresh Recovery program, which moves fresh items that previously had gone to waste into food bank systems, and the many community food drives we support. We will continue to partner and look for innovative ways to improve access to healthy foods and alleviate hunger in our communities.”

Hunger Solutions New York Director of Public Affairs Sherry Tomasky said, “Our mission is to ensure all New Yorkers have enough food on their table.  As a member of the Hunger and Food Policy Council, we are proud to work with our Governor’s office, state agencies, and our fellow council members to achieve this goal. Just this year, New York has helped tens of thousands of children access school breakfast through No Student Goes Hungry, and has allowed thousands more New Yorkers to continue to use their SNAP benefits at farmers markets. These initiatives, along with many others, decrease food insecurity, increase consumption of nutritious food, and help families break out of the cycle of hunger.”

Since 2011, New York State has taken aggressive action to bring hunger relief to thousands of New Yorkers. Many of the programs and legislation adopted by the state strategically utilize local resources to provide greater access to healthier meal options.

In 2013, the state launched an Anti-Hunger Task Force, which later helped provide the basis of today’s Council on Hunger and Food Policy.

In 2016, the state announced a $15 million investment to build a state-of-the-art Greenmarket Regional Food Hub in the South Bronx. The facility will enhance the connection between upstate food producers and the downstate market, increase access to fresh food for underserved populations, boost in-state food production and consumption, and create new job opportunities.

The State has also expanded the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), eliminating unnecessary requirements and simplifying the applications process, removing key barriers to reducing hunger for children and adults, while maximizing benefits for those who are eligible. The Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program (HPNAP) has been extended through 2020, while the State’s FreshConnect program and New York State’s Farm-to-School Program have also been expanded. Together, these programs bring farm-fresh foods to underserved communities, increase the buying power of SNAP recipients, and assist schools and other organizations with buying and serving homegrown foods to students.

Just last month, the state’s Community Growers Grant Program awarded nearly two dozen partner organizations $500,000 to enhance community gardens, school gardens and urban farms that support proper nutrition, educational opportunities, community engagement and the fight against hunger.

In addition, through the Vital Brooklyn initiative, the state is also bringing healthy food to residents of Central Brooklyn, which seeks to improve services in one of the most disadvantaged areas of the state. The state has committed $500,000 to mobile markets in Central Brooklyn to bring healthy food to people with limited mobility, launched 12 new youth run farmers markets, and funded a Food Insecurity Screening Pilot Program that will integrate food security assessments into the broader health care system.

About the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York
The Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that collects donated food from the food industry and distributes it to nearly 1,000 charitable groups. The food provided by the Regional Food Bank helps to feed over 40,000 people each week. In 2017, the organization distributed nearly 38 million pounds of food to the hungry, a 69 percent increase since 2009. The Regional Food Bank is a member of Feeding America. The organization is supported by foundations, private contributions and fundraising events.  For information on services offered by the Regional Food Bank, call (518) 786-3691 or log on to www.regionalfoodbank.net.

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