Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $260,000 in funding for the third year of the "FreshConnect" farmers' market program, which brings fresh food from New York farms to underserved communities throughout the state. Building on the experience gained in the first two years of the FreshConnect program, new components have been added to enhance and increase the involvement of youth participation in the food system and the mechanisms to deliver healthy food products to those in need. This year, the FreshConnect program will help increase locally-grown food products throughout the state through projects such as youth markets, delivery of products to low-income housing facilities and new initiatives at traditional farmers' markets.
"Our FreshConnect Farmers' Markets are getting better and better every year," said Governor Cuomo. "Not only are we helping New York farmers bring their products to market, but we are bringing fresh food from these farmers to traditionally underserved communities. This initiative is great for New York agriculture and a tremendous boost to the public health of our citizens."
Launched by the Governor in 2011, the FreshConnect program is designed to foster new farmers' markets and support existing markets that provide fresh produce to high-need areas throughout the state. In some areas, the program serves rural or urban populations that do not have sufficient access to grocery stores; in others, it provides low-income, high-unemployment neighborhoods with healthy, New York-grown produce, as well as local jobs.
Funding was awarded by way of a competitive process. In total, 23 projects totaling $260,000 received funding under this request for proposals.
- Traditional FreshConnect Farmers' Markets: 14 projects totaling $130,000. Funding will support multiple grant projects to improve access of underserved communities to New York farm products at farmers' markets. New and existing farmers' markets, municipalities and not-for-profits applied for up to $10,000 each. The best ideas on how to improve access to farmers' market produce were awarded funding.
- Youth Markets: Five projects totaling $80,000. Funding will support multiple youth-staffed market programs, one of the most effective models for reaching nutritionally underserved neighborhoods. Youth markets will also help train youth to operate all aspects of a farmers' market in the neighborhood using food purchased from local farmers. Youth will be active participants in all aspects of planning and running the market. Funding was awarded to organizations that demonstrated sustainability and growth of youth market programs.
- Food Box: Four projects totaling $50,000. This program supports pilot projects that enable underserved, low-income communities to purchase fresh, locally-sourced fruits and vegetables in pre-packed boxes. Food Box customers will have the flexibility to pay for their boxes weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly depending on the pick-up schedule of each project. Food Box customers will have the option to use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to pay for their boxes. State funding will cover administrative costs associated with a qualified organization procuring, transporting and distributing the food to low-income New Yorkers.
State Agriculture Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine said, "We couldn't be more pleased that Governor Cuomo is continuing our highly-successful FreshConnect Farmers' Markets program for a third straight year. It's an initiative that just keeps getting better and better for our hard working farmers and the New Yorkers who have come to enjoy their fresh products. I look forward to another great year at these first-class marketplaces."
Kristin M. Proud, Acting Commissioner of the Office for Temporary and Disability Assistance, which oversees SNAP in New York State, said, "Governor Cuomo's continued focus on bringing more fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables from New York's farmers to low-income households through the FreshConnect program promotes local agriculture while improving nutrition among some of our most vulnerable residents. These expanded efforts further the Governor's goal of preventing hunger by improving access for New Yorkers to fresh, healthy, locally-grown food choices when shopping for their families."
Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams said, "Governor Cuomo's FreshConnect Farmers' Market program has been hugely successful in providing healthy fresh food to communities across our state, and critical to our efforts to grow New York's agriculture industry. Now in its third year, the FreshConnect program will further expand its reach, creating jobs and strengthening the economy."
State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H., said, "Ensuring all New Yorkers have access to nutritious foods is an essential component of the state's health agenda. Governor Cuomo's leadership and support for the FreshConnect program makes it possible for people across the state to enjoy the benefits of locally grown produce as part of a healthy diet."
State Labor Commissioner Peter M. Rivera said, "The success of the FreshConnect Farmers' Markets program is clear from an economic perspective, from a public health perspective, and from a job training perspective. Governor Cuomo's new addition, the Youth Markets program, will train our youth early on to open and operate a market, skills applicable to any industry and career path."
Dean Norton, President of New York Farm Bureau, said, "The funding for the various food programs announced today will provide additional opportunities to connect our state's farms with consumers in both rural and underserved urban communities. Not only will this increase market opportunities for farmers, but it will also ensure the people of New York have greater access to healthy, local food for their dinner tables. We appreciate the efforts of Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Aubertine on behalf of our farm families."
Diane Eggert, Executive Director of the Farmers Market Federation of New York, said, "With the opening of the farmers market season this Spring, we once again thank Governor Cuomo for his support of farmers markets through the FreshConnect program. This program assists farmers markets throughout the state to reach low income community members, making fresh, nutritious and locally grown foods available to all community members."
A list of awardees is below:
- Bellevue Preservation, Inc. (Capital Region) - $4,700
- Northeast Community Council, Inc. (Mid-Hudson) - $10,000
- Ulster County CCE (Mid-Hudson) - $10,000
- Oneida County Department of Public Works (Mohawk Valley) - $10,000
- Garden Share, Inc. (North Country) - $9,827
- Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce (North Country) - $9,961
- Lewis County General Hospital Farmers' Market (North Country) - $10,000
- Woodhall Community DMA/Graham BID (NYC) - $8,800
- United Community Centers, Inc. (NYC) - $9,950
- EcoStation: NY/Bushwick Farmers' Market (NYC) - $10,000
- Bushwick Farmers' Market (NYC) - $10,000
- Chemung County CCE (Southern Tier) - $6,762
- Ithaca Farmers' Market (Southern Tier) - $10,000
- Tioga County CCE (Southern Tier) - $10,000
- Foodlink, Inc. (Finger Lakes) $20,000
- Roosevelt Community Revitalization Group, Inc. (Long Island) $15,000
- Friends of Van Cortland Park (New York City) $10,000
- Massachusetts Avenue Project (Western New York) $15,000
- Grow NYC (New York City) $20,000
Food Box Pilot Project:
- Public Health Solutions (New York City) $5,855
- Grow NYC (New York City) $25,000
- Garden Share (North Country) $5,145
- United Way of Broome County (Southern Tier) $14,000