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Borrello: Make NourishNY permanent

The Nourish NY program has been so successful that state Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, wants to see the program continue after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

NourishNY began as an effort by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to help both farmers and food banks in the state. Dairy farmers were dumping milk because of a surplus earlier this year caused by low demand when schools and restaurants were closed.

Cuomo’s idea to help people who need food and farmers who needed a market because NourishNY, which provides $25 million in state funding to food banks for the purchase of agricultural food products such as produce, meat, eggs, seafood, and dairy products from state farms and processors. According to the program’s website, more than three million pounds of food have been purchased since April by providing funding to each region of the state. The New York City region received $10,997,554, the Westchester region received $985,605, the Long Island region received $1,587,313, the Capital/Hudson Valley region received $4,357,115, the Central New York region received $2,202,404, the Southern Tier region received $1,054,327, Western New York received $2,129,463 and the Finger Lakes region received $1,686,218.

Emergency food providers could spend their allotment by setting up food-drive through events/giveaways, distributing dairy vouchers that can be redeemed in grocery stores for products like cheese, yogurt, milk, sour cream, and butter, throughout the state, or purchasing products directly from New York dairy/food manufacturers for their feeding programs.

Borrello’s proposal would enact a provision in state law that gives the state Department of Agriculture and Markets the continuing power to facilitate the program.

“In April 2020, New York launched the’Nourish New York’ initiative to direct surplus agricultural products through New York’s network of food banks,” Borrello wrote in his legislative justification. “This program has been extremely successful in stabilizing the food supply chain that was greatly disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The vulnerability of the dairy industry and volatility of the supply chain were sadly illustrated in multiple images of farmers dumping milk despite long lines at food banks. This legislation will guarantee that a program similar to Nourish New York will continue once the pandemic has concluded to assist both the agriculture industry as well as areas with high levels of food insecurity.”

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