State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball announced recently that Foodlink has purchased 3.6 million pounds of surplus food from New York farmers since the beginning of the Nourish New York program. The products include apples, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and potatoes, and are distributed to families through Foodlink food pantries in the Finger Lakes region.

Foodlink also has partnered with Byrne Dairy to provide families with weekly boxes of dairy products, including cheddar cheese, sour cream, and 2% milk. So far, Foodlink has provided over 9,000 dairy boxes to those in need through their drive-thru distributions and food pantry network.

“The Nourish New York program has been tremendously successful in connecting local farms and food producers to communities through food banks, such as Foodlink,” Ball said. “I am grateful for our partnership with Foodlink, which is continuing to build relationships with distributors and farmers in the Finger Lakes region to provide a market for farmers to sell their products and ensure that all New Yorkers have access to fresh, local foods.”

Terra Keller, the Chief Operating Officer of Foodlink, said, “With ongoing support from the Nourish NY program, the state has shown its commitment to supporting both our region’s farmers and food-insecure families during a difficult year for all. Having access to millions of pounds of quality, local products has been a relief for Foodlink and the hundreds of thousands of families we serve.”

Since the start of the pandemic, Foodlink has served more than 190,000 households through their drive-thru food distributions. Foodlink purchases food directly from New York produce farms and dairy manufacturers across the state, including:

Kirby’s Farm Market (Brockport)

Bushart Farms (Marion)

Callan Farms (Caledonia)

Wheatfield Gardens (North Tonawanda)

Intergrow (Ontario)

Williams Farm (Marion)

Great Lakes Cheese (Cuba)

Foodlink is the hub of the emergency food system for the 10-county Finger Lakes region. Visit Foodlink’s website to find out more about all of Foodlink’s efforts to increase access to food in the Rochester area, including the Nourish NY program and its Curbside Market program.

Nourish NY impacts statewide

Nourish New York has helped New York’s food banks and emergency food providers purchase more than 28 million pounds of agricultural products, or nearly 24 million meals for New York households. Nourish NY food purchases have benefited over 4,100 farms across the state.

The New York State budget included an additional $50 million for the program, bringing the total amount provided to New York’s food banks to $85 million since the program’s launch in May 2020. Nourish New York was created in direct response to the impact COVID-19 had on New York’s families and farmers. It has been hugely successful in rerouting New York’s surplus agricultural products to the populations in need through the state’s food banks, while providing economic relief for food producers and farmers who lost markets because of the 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 due to the ongoing public health crisis.

The Nourish NY program is administered by the State Department of Agriculture and Markets and the New York State Department of Health and is funded through the end of 2021. The initiative has been led by a special task force created by Gov. 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; and 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 Barrett at COVIDPhilanthropies@exec.ny.gov.

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