USDA Cooperative Agreements Will Promote New York Farmers and Producers and Strengthen Farm-to-School Programs
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded nearly $38 million to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and the New York State Education Department to further enhance the resilience of New York's food system by providing a boost to New York farmers and increasing access to local foods. The funding will create new opportunities to purchase locally grown and produced food to support New York farmers, including those who have been traditionally underserved, and to distribute those goods to food insecure communities and to New York schools.
"The Department of Agriculture and Markets and the State Education Department have been instrumental in developing strong, mutually-beneficial relationships between local farmers and the communities they feed," Governor Hochul said. "These programs provide critical economic opportunities for farmers and producers while also giving students and underserved populations access to locally sourced, fresh, healthy, and nutritious food. This partnership and additional funding builds on our many successful state programs that not only help provide a boost to our agricultural community and feed our families, but also help strengthen New York State's food supply chain."
USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt joined New York Department of Agriculture and Markets (AGM) Commissioner Richard A. Ball and State Education Department (SED) Commissioner Betty A. Rosa today at the Capital Region BOCES Career &Technical Education Center to celebrate two cooperative agreements: the Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement (LFPA) Program, through AGM; and the Local Food for Schools (LFS) Cooperative Agreement Program, through SED.
United State Department of Agriculture Under Secretary Jenny Lester Moffitt said, "USDA is excited to partner with New York to promote economic opportunities for farmers and producers and to increase access to locally sourced, fresh, healthy, and nutritious food in underserved communities and in schools. The cooperative agreements achieved under these programs will improve food and agricultural supply-chain resiliency and increase local food consumption around the country."
AGM has been awarded $25.8 million through the LFPA to implement the New York Food for New York Families Program 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 will support local and traditionally disadvantaged farmers by building and expanding economic opportunities and creating new marketing channels for them within the state while ensuring local food gets to New York families in need.
The LFS program, run by SED, will receive nearly $12 million to provide schools with additional resources to purchase local and regional foods and beverages to serve children during the school day through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. These healthy and unique products will continue the state's goal of improving child nutrition while building new relationships between schools and local farmers.
New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "I am proud of New York's ongoing efforts to strengthen our food system and bring healthy, local foods to underserved communities while providing economic benefits for farmers across New York. We are so pleased to be awarded nearly $26 million through USDA's LFPA grant program, which will allow us to build on these accomplishments and significantly further our reach to farmers and families in need in every corner of our state."
New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young Jr. said, "New York's farms and food producers are at the heart of ensuring students have healthy locally sourced food that they need to support learning and development. Together, with our outstanding child nutrition partners statewide and at the USDA, we continue to grow and strengthen our networks to provide healthful New York food for students, so they have access to the wholesome meals they need each day."
New York State Education Department Commissioner Betty A. Rosa said, "Schools are an integral part of every community in our diverse state, and we strive to foster deep connections to food and farming. I am thrilled the Department's Child Nutrition staff are working hard to further that partnership and will be a key part of this important cooperation among districts, New York's wonderful farms, and historically underserved food producers and processors. These concerted efforts will result in healthier, happier students who are better prepared to thrive in school."
Capital Region BOCES Acting District Superintendent Lauren Gemmill said, "From our culinary programs for students to our Shared Food Service for school districts, Capital Region BOCES is continually looking for ways to improve access to local foods in schools. As we look for ways to build relationships with farmers and ensure that our students have nutritious options available to then, we are grateful for the support of our state and federal leaders."
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said, "New York is home to over 30,000 farmers who need urgent and direct help to keep operations running while grappling with financial hardship caused by the pandemic. As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I am proud to have helped advocate and secure this $38 million that will help keep our farms running and healthy, local food on the table at home and in schools."
Representative Adriano Espaillat said, "I commend Governor Hochul on today's announcement to support New York farmers while ensuring schools and communities receive food from local providers. While bolstering food equity through locally grown produce, we are able to further our efforts to fight food insecurity across New York State, providing for families and communities in need."
State Senator Shelley B. Mayer said, "All students learn best when they receive the nutrition they need. This funding will allow New York to continue to build bridges between our local farmers and our schools. Thank you to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Governor Kathy Hochul, Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball, Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young Jr., and State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa for their partnership in this effort."
State Senator Michelle Hinchey said, "Expanding access to healthy, locally sourced food for all New Yorkers while creating new markets to bolster farm businesses is a critical priority for our state, and it's so important that we have support on this front at every level of government. As we continue our work to make sure our homegrown food supply is accessible to all children and families across New York, this federal funding will be incredibly useful in spurring new connections between schools, farms, and underserved communities."
Assemblymember Donna Lupardo said, "Thank you to the USDA for supporting New York's important local food procurement initiatives. With this funding, we can provide even more fresh, locally grown and nutritious products for our students and food insecure New Yorkers. It will also be a big boost for our farmers, strengthening our food supply chain and overall agricultural economy."
Today's announcement builds on the State's long standing commitment to the fight against hunger. The State has launched several groundbreaking programs in recent years to improve access to healthy, locally grown foods and to bring New York-grown foods and beverages to underserved communities and New York State schools. The 30 percent NYS Initiative, the State's Farm-to School program and child nutrition programs are focused on buying more local products from New York farmers and increasing healthy and nutritious local foods for New York school lunches.
The Nourish NY initiative has purchased, through the state's network of food banks and emergency food providers, nearly $100 million worth of food from local farmers and delivered it to families in need. So far, nearly 50 million meals have been delivered. Another recent milestone is the one million pounds of food donated to hungry New Yorkers as part of the ongoing implementation of the State's Food Donation and Food Scraps Recycling Law, which builds on the State's efforts to reduce waste and climate-altering emissions caused by landfilling, while providing quality food to New Yorkers in need.
The Council on Hunger and Food Policy convenes to provide state policymakers with expertise on how to address hunger and improve access to healthy, local food for New York State residents. The work of the Council was critical during the establishment of the Nourish New York program, thanks to its focus on strengthening ties and cooperation between programs addressing hunger and those who produce and supply food.
Both programs help provide fresh, healthy, locally grown foods to underserved communities and students across the state and invest in small New York State businesses to cultivate a stable, thriving local food system. More information is available at USDA's Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program and Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program webpages.