Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today launched "Help Your Neighbor," a statewide initiative to urge businesses and New Yorkers to give directly to regional food banks this holiday season. The Governor also announced $1 million in grants will be given to eight food banks across the state and an additional $620,000 in grants for emergency food relief organizations in communities hit hard by the recent flooding and storms.
Regional food banks are the primary source of food for those in need, as they stock networks of food pantries and soup kitchens. As a result of the recent storms and flooding as well as the difficult economic times, food banks have struggled to provide enough food for those seeking assistance. The "Help Your Neighbor" initiative urges all businesses and New Yorkers to give what they can to help make sure those in need do not go hungry during the holiday season.
"In these tough economic times, New York food banks are struggling to fill their shelves and meet the high demand," Governor Cuomo said. "The 'Help Your Neighbor' initiative will help ensure soup kitchens and food pantries across the state have the resources they need to feed all those who seek assistance this holiday season. New Yorkers have always been the first to give and the initiative will tap into this spirit of generosity to make sure those in need can put food on the table."
The "Help Your Neighbor" initiative encourages New Yorkers and businesses to donate resources to help restock and fill the shelves of food banks across New York State. Food banks are a critical provider to the soup kitchens and food pantries that many New Yorkers rely on, particularly during difficult economic times. As a result of the flooding and tough weather of the past year, affected New York farms have struggled to provide the generous donations they usually give to food banks. Additionally, some donors have scaled back their giving due to tough economic conditions.
"Help Your Neighbor" is a part of Governor Cuomo's "NYGives" campaign, a statewide effort to encourage charitable giving and generosity throughout the holiday season. "NYGives" connects businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and those seeking to give with organizations that directly serve New Yorkers most in need. The campaign will continue through the end of 2011.
In recognition of the heightened demand on hunger prevention programs throughout the State, the Governor has authorized an additional $1 million in funding for regional food banks. This increased funding will be allocated to eight regional food banks across New York State, that distribute food through 5,000 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and other emergency programs to feed nearly 3 million people during 2011. The money is being directed by the state for this purpose from a federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Contingency Fund grant award received by New York in October.
The additional food bank funds will be allocated as follows:
- Food Bank of Western New York (located in Buffalo) - $121,000
- Foodlink (located in Rochester) - $107,000
- Food Bank of the Southern Tier (located in Elmira) - $59,000
- Food Bank of Central New York (located in Syracuse) - $147,000
- Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York (located in Albany area) - $200,000
- Food Bank For Westchester - $64,000
- Food Bank For New York City - $199,000
- Long Island Cares, Inc./The Harry Chapin Food Bank - $103,000
In areas hit hard by the past storms and flooding, the Governor has directed $620,000 to emergency food relief organizations to ensure New Yorkers in these communities are able to put food on the table. The money is from the General Fund Local Assistance appropriation for the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program in the 2011-12 Budget.
The funds will be divided as follows:
- Broome County Council of Churches (Broome County): $60,000
- Delaware Opportunities, Inc. (Delaware County): $60,000
- Grace Episcopal Church (Orange County): $60,000
- Cornell Cooperative Extension of Orange County: $60,000
- CACHE, Inc. (Sullivan County): $60,000
- Sullivan County Federation for the Homeless: $60,000
- Regional Food Bank of Southern Tier (Chemung County): $80,000
- Regional Food Bank of Central NY (Onondaga County): $80,000
- Regional Food Bank of Northeastern NY (Albany County): $100,000
New Yorkers looking to donate or volunteer should visit the following website to locate a local food bank: http://www.foodbankassocnys.org/find-food-bank.cfm
Items in highest demand at food banks include:
- Canned meat (chicken, turkey, tuna fish, canned stews)
- Peanut butter and canned beans (shelf stable protein non-meats, particularly kidney and pinto, due to the high protein content)
- Canned vegetables (corn, carrots, peas, potatoes, and other commonly used meal vegetables)
- Soups and canned pasta meals (i.e. spaghetti-meatballs)
- Personal care items (shampoo, bar soap, toothpaste)
- Canned or boxed entres (chili, macaroni & cheese, etc.)
Joel Berg, Executive Director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, said, "With over one million children and adults in New York City struggling against hunger, we must mobilize to make sure soup kitchens and food pantries have fuller shelves and all the resources necessary to feed those in need. I thank Governor Cuomo for leading this initiative that will provide a much-needed financial boost to food banks across New York State and bring together donors, farmers, and businesses to help feed the hungry."
As part of "Help Your Neighbor," the Governor further announced that New York State has partnered with the Farm Bureau and New York Food Bank Association to assist farms across the state with charitable giving to food banks.
The New York Farm Bureau, representing nearly 30,000 farms throughout New York State, will urge farmers of the importance of donating to local food banks during the holiday season. New York farmers have traditionally been extremely generous in donating food, placing second only to California last year for total pounds of food donated by farmers to food banks. In 2010, New York farmers donated over 1.2 million pounds of food to New Yorks eight food banks and two rescues.
Dean Norton, President of the New York Farm Bureau, said, "With the Thanksgiving holiday fast approaching and in spite of the fact that some of our members have had a very difficult year, New Yorks farmers are stepping up to help our community food banks in their important mission of assisting those in need. In 2011, Food Banks across New York State will serve about 3 million of our fellow citizens. New York Farm Bureau and its members are proud to work with Governor Cuomo and our partners in local food banks to meet this pressing need."
As part of this initiative, Governor Cuomo encourages any farmers that have produce that is unsalable but still consumable to contact their local food bank to arrange for a team of volunteer gleaners to harvest and donate that product.
During the Thanksgiving week, state employees volunteered their time to glean the remaining crops left in fields at two Capital District farms. Black Horse Farms in Athens had leftover cabbage and the Patroon Land Farm had extra kale and collard greens, which were picked and donated back to the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York to be distributed throughout its 23-county service area, covering over 1,000 soup kitchens, food pantries, and other local direct providers.
Businesses across New York will also participate in "Help Your Neighbor." The first company to join the initiative, Jetro/Restaurant Depot, has committed to increase its food bank food donations by 25%, from $200,000 to $250,000.