Cornell Cooperative Extension Submits Grant Proposal

Submitted Photo Pictured, from left, are James Galbato from Brigiotta’s, the Rev. Luke Fodor from St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Cassandra Skal from Cornell Cooperative Extension, Emily Reynolds from Cornell Cooperative Extension, Linnea Haskin from Jamestown Public Market and Vince DeJoy, director of Dunkirk’s planning and development.

The Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County has announced its recent partnership with several community organizations to submit a grant proposal for the New York Food for New York Families program.

In partnership with various businesses, municipalities and organizations, the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County is hoping to bring “significant dollars” to the area in order to expand “healthy food access’ and promote the economic development of local agricultural producers.

According to Linnea Haskin, director of the Jamestown Public Market, the grant, which was submitted recently in January, was made possible through collaboration between “several partners” from across Chautauqua County, demonstrating how different organizations can work together to address “food security” throughout the county.

“Chautauqua County is unique in our size geographically,” Haskin said. “We face many challenges other communities face when it comes to food access; lack of transportation, needs of vulnerable groups such as seniors and youth, and a need to invest more in local farms and agriculture producers.

We are proud to partner with CCE and other organizations who share our mission of feeding the community. We are hopeful New York State understands the needs of our area and invests in our community so we can support our agriculture producers, while feeding our community.”

The proposal submitted by CCE includes funding for multiple distribution sites and events across the county. If the proposal is funded, the sites would be operational beginning this summer.

If CCE receives grant funding for its proposal, a coordinator would be hired to oversee the distribution of food and work with agricultural farmers, dairy farmers and other agricultural producers throughout the region to obtain a variety of produce, meat products, baked goods, dairy products and other local food items.

CCE’s plan is to invest more than $500,000 in food products produced in the state. Currently, Brigiotta’s Farmland Produce is hoping to serve as the “lead partner” in packaging food produced in the state in as many as 500 individual boxes each week to be distributed.

The distribution process will involve collaboration with the Office of the Aging’s Local Roots program, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, the Jamestown Public Market’s Mobile Market program, Rural Ministries of Dunkirk and Five Loaves and Two Fish Ministries.

“If awarded funds, CCE will plan food distribution sites across the county easily accessible for the community,” a CCE press release said. “Each site will provide distribution of New York State food boxes at no cost to community members, first come, first serve.”

Through the potential grant-funded plan, food distribution sites would be operational for 40 weeks, starting in June of this year and concluding in August of 2024. Each box of food is expected to average between 10 to 12 pounds and will include a variety of meats, produce and other agricultural products.

Community members interested in the program, if it is approved, would not be required to pre-register or provide identification or documentation to participate in the program.

In its press release, the CCE said it is “proud” to partner with a “wide range or services and organizations” throughout Chautauqua County. With 17% of local residents living below the poverty line, food insecurity is a top concern and priority for the CCE.

Vince DeJoy, Dunkirk’s planning and development director explained the impact the program could have on the county.

“The NY Food for NY Families grant application, if funded, will have a profoundly positive effect for families that want to provide healthy and sustainable fresh locally grown and processed foods for families in Dunkirk; at the same time strengthening our collaborative efforts county-wide with Cornell Cooperative Extension, Jamestown Public Market, and Chautauqua Rural Ministry,” he said.

If the CCE’s grant application is approved, the goal will be to increase the community’s access to local, healthy foods and provide economic stability for local farmers and other producers in the state.

The CCE also expects the project to result in long-term impacts. These potential impacts include a better understanding of county residents’ need for food access, a “deeper connection” between local farmers and wholesale outlets and a “sustainable food distribution model” that could be implemented throughout the county in churches, schools and other community organizations.

The New York Food for New York Families funding was announced in 2022 and is intended to, “Create a more resilient statewide food system that supports local farms and provides high quality, nutritious food to communities facing food insecurity.”

Food purchases through the program are designed to support local farmers by expanding economic opportunities and establishing new “marketing channels” throughout the state. Additionally, the program is designed to ensure that local produce is distributed to local families that “need it most.”

The CCE explained that a “wider coalition” that includes multiple food service organizations and municipalities throughout the county will provide better opportunities to provide food to more members of the community.

“There was limited time to put together a proposal for funding, and CCE credits its community partners for the successful submission of the RFP,” the CCE’s press release said. “CCE is hopeful that NYS will award funding for Chautauqua County, and that this is just the start of a wider county effort to address food access needs.”


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