S.4892-A/A.5781-A Permanently Creates the Nourish NY Program in Agriculture & Markets Law
Governor Hochul: "As a New Yorker, your Governor, and as a fellow human being, it's very difficult to stand here today and look out just over the parking lot there and see thousands and thousands of fellow New Yorkers lined up, some since 6:00 AM, just to get a coat or a meal for the rest of the week. That my friends is not the New York that I want to govern. I want that to change. I want people to have hope. I want them to know that the government looks out for its people and we're starting here today by signing this, but I don't ever again want to see this human spectacle of people having to stand here, waiting for food."
Governor Kathy Hochul today, in Corona, Queens, signed legislation S.4892-A/A.5781-A enshrining the Nourish New York program permanently in state law. The signing of this legislation comes just before the Thanksgiving holiday, reaffirming New York's commitment to providing support to those facing food insecurity across the state.
AUDIO of the event is available here.
PHOTOS of the event will be available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks are available below:
Good afternoon. Normally bill signings are festive occasions and indeed, this is something of great consequence. But as a New Yorker, your Governor, and as a fellow human being, it's very difficult to stand here today and look out just over the parking lot there and see thousands and thousands of fellow New Yorkers lined up, some since 6:00 AM, just to get a coat or a meal for the rest of the week. That my friends is not the New York that I want to govern. I want that to change. I want people to have hope.
I want them to know that the government looks out for its people and we're starting here today by signing this, but I don't ever again want to see this human spectacle of people having to stand here, waiting for food. This is heartbreaking. It is heartbreaking. Assemblymember Catalina Cruz I'm so proud that we're here today to put a spotlight and hopefully not just local, but national attention on what is still going on in society today.
This pandemic is not over. People are still suffering. People still don't have their homes and their jobs. And the people that had their lives turned upside down with that hurricane or the people who were not able to get assistance because of their government status or lack of status.
We are changing things by signing legislation, but I want every single person here to look over there before you leave today and say never again in this state, that is our commitment. The legislators here our great senators who were recognized, our Assemblymembers, Commissioner Ball, who's a farmer himself, but he feels deeply about the need to feed every human being.
I thank them for their friendship and their partnership. And also, what are we doing here today? This is an extraordinary opportunity to fight back against the specter of human poverty, where children are going to bed with their tummies growling. They go to school on a stomach that is not full and they're expected to learn and just to be engaged and act as if everything's normal and how can they possibly?
This as a mother also hurts me as well. It is very hard to witness this. So this program has been an enormous success. It is creative. It is ingenious in a way that we can connect two very disparate environments. One very rural district that Senator Borrello represents. I've been on many of your farms. It's a beautiful area.
The area Senator Hinchey represents, I've been on those farms as well. I've met every cow in New York State, I swear to God. I had the most rural congressional district in the state, and I know how hard these farmers work. I was up there during the pandemic, speaking to members of the farm community, and they told me that they're at risk of losing a family farm that had been their family for two, three, four, five generations. That's how close to the edge they were a falling off this cliff. No fault of their own.
As you heard from the Assemblymembers, the supply was no longer needed to bring food and fresh vegetables and milk to places like New York, because the schools are closed, the restaurants are closed. We were on the verge of losing them perhaps forever.
At the same time, people never dreamed they'd been having to walk up to a food bank or an Assemblymember's office or get in a vehicle and drive around a parking lot. While some generous person puts food in their trunk and they can finally say, my kids will eat tonight. That's what this nation witnessed during this pandemic.
And certainly by now, almost two years into this, we thought this would be over, but it's not. That is why this temporary lifeline, Nourish New York, which connected the food that was not being shipped to markets and produced by farmers. The milk that was produced, we need to continue connecting that to the food banks.
Some of the food banks that are. Head over 200% more demand for what they offered then they had the previous year. How do you sustain that? How do you provide what they need? This program has been phenomenal. Let me just read you some statistics. because this is shocking. Because of the three rounds already, $65 million allocated. We've had 35 million pounds of food go from New York State farms to the homes and kitchen tables of New Yorkers throughout this date. That equates to 30 million meals.
When I first took office and they said, that's a great program, but it's not working. We still need more. We added another $25 million to this which allowed for nearly 7 million more pounds of food, 6 million more meals.
But the demand is not diminished. Demand has not gone away. And until it does, we have to keep this steady supply of food coming from our farms to food to food banks and food distribution centers like this, it's that simple, it's simple. We can do this with a stroke of a pen and make this permanent. So it'll be a permanent solution that we will never have to worry about our farms. We don't have to worry about our citizens having to stand in this line and let people know this, we enter Thanksgiving week and yes, as Americans, we are thankful. We're thankful to live in this great country and to live in this state. But with that gratitude comes a sense of responsibility to others. Now I remember as a child growing up very humbly that my parents made sure that we were collecting food and clothing and distributing it to the new immigrant community in our area and instilled in me the sense of responsibility to others that is with me to this day.
That is why I'm proud to sign this bill and to thank all the individuals who helped make this. Assemblymember Catalina Cruz, Senator Michelle Hinchey thank you for being the sponsors. Thank you for getting this over the finish line. This is extraordinary.
To all of the members of the legislature that were mentioned here, our Senators and Assemblymembers. Thank you. Commissioner Ball, Pedro Rodriguez, Executive Director of La Jornada's New York food pantry. Thank you. Thank you for caring so much. Thank you for giving your heart to this community. You are truly making a profound difference Pedro. And Renee Ciardi, the owner of Saunderskill Farms and farm bureau.
Thank you for giving hope to farms and farmers all across the state to let them know, yes, their family business will survive, the State of New York wants you to and we're here to help you very much, and we'll do that as we continue.
So food insecurity around the state is real and we're taking a major step today to say this needs to end. We need to put an end to this right here, right now. And all of you witnessed the day we declared this battle, this war against poverty is going to continue until no child goes to bed in the State of New York with a hungry stomach, never again in our state. Thank you my friends.