Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the State is helping to feed more than 35,000 people statewide this Thanksgiving in partnership with Walmart, Wegmans, the National Supermarket Association, The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo and FreshDirect.
Video of the Governor’s remarks as well as questions from the media is available in TV-quality (h264, mp4) format here, and on YouTube here. B-roll of the Governor at the Javits Center distribution site is available in TV-quality (h264, mp4) format here, and on YouTube here.
Audio of the Governor’s remarks is available here.
Photos from today’s event are available here.
A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks is available below:
Thank you very much. We’re a couple of days before Thanksgiving, as everyone knows, and once you hit Thanksgiving you’re really in the holiday season, right? Black Friday is right after Thanksgiving, and then the days just click by and everybody is waiting for Christmas and holidays and New Year’s. And you get so busy, right away, everything becomes frenetic. I can feel it happening: where are you going for Thanksgiving, what are you bringing, what are you wearing, I need this, I need that. I have three young ladies who are acutely aware of Christmas and that’s the opportunity for them to maximize what they’re going to get, and they’re sending me all these pictures of things in magazines and these shoes and this dress…
That’s the holiday season. It’s frenetic. It’s magical in some ways, it’s chaotic in some ways, and we all look forward to it. It’s very easy, though, to get caught up in the frenzy of the holiday season and the noise of the holiday season and the activity of the holiday season and forget what it’s really about, right? Thanksgiving; the most relevant part of that word is the giving. And most of us – many of us – will have Thanksgiving plans and will be at a great table with a great turkey and with friends, etc. and we’ll eat too much and we’ll have a certain level of guilt the next day. Not me, because I eat too much all the time and I’ve given up on the guilt, but that is how most of us will celebrate the holiday.
But it’s very important to remember for many, many New Yorkers, frighteningly, larger and larger numbers of New Yorkers don’t have that holiday. They don’t have that feast. They don’t have that support network, they don’t have those friends. 14 percent; about three million New Yorkers are what we call ‘food insecure’ – they’re unsure whether or not they’re going to have enough money to actually buy food. You have people who have to choose each month between paying the rent or paying for food. You have people who are living in really, really desperate straits. That’s why as the Secretary of State mentioned, we’re trying to raise the minimum wage so people can actually pay for the need that they have.
But it’s very, very tough. You look out there, any New Yorker who has been on the streets, you see homeless people. The number of homeless people is on the rise. It’s getting colder out. It’s tough to be out there. So the need is very, very great. And today is a reminder of the giving part of Thanksgiving. And that that is the greatest part of the season. Winston Churchill had a great quote: ‘we make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.’ And that really is saying it all. It’s about what we give.
Now, we have some New Yorkers with us today who have been extraordinarily generous. This is a record for us. 35,000 meals will be prepared and will be given out. And we want to thank Wal-Mart and Jason Klipa, who is here from Wal-Mart; let’s give them a round of applause. Thank you Jason. FreshDirect; Larry Scott Blackmon, thank you very much. And Coca-Cola Refreshments; Donna Cirolia; thank you very much Donna for being here. We also have Wegmans who have been very gracious to us and the National Supermarket Association and Pepsi Company. Let’s give them a round of applause also.
And then we have the force that is always there when we need help – Lieutenant Colonel Chet Edwards and the National Guard – thank you guys, once again.
You know, they say, it would be what the National Guard reminds me, they say New Yorkers are tough. I don't think we're that tough. I think we just act tough, you know? New York City is a tough place, New York State is tough place. Density—a lot of people. So you keep your guard up and maybe that's the way we come off as New Yorkers, with our guard up. We're a little protective, a little defensive.
But you scratch the surface just a little bit, or you give New Yorkers any cause or reason why they should step up to the plate and help other New Yorkers, and they are the most generous, giving people you could ever meet. I've been out there with the National Guard when we've had floods, hurricanes: Hurricane Sandy, Storm Irene, Storm Lee. You'd be amazed at how many New Yorkers just come out to help. People will drive across the state and they'll bring trays of food. They'll just get out of a car and hand you a tray of food and say, "I saw what happened on TV and I just had to do something." That's New Yorkers. That's New Yorkers at their best. I've seen them at their best.
Remember, it doesn't always take a hurricane or flood to have New Yorkers in need. New Yorkers are in need every day. It may not be as sensational, it may not be as loud, but it's especially during this holiday season when everything around them is everyone is people are enjoying, and people are getting, and people are receiving. It highlights the absence in your own life. So this is very, very important. Today is an important step. As the Secretary of State said, we've done it every year. It's one of the sweetest parts of the year for me. I bring my children with me because I want them to remember this is what it's really all about, and no, you're not going to get those expensive boots. But yes, we are going to give out meals to people who actually need it. So thank you all very much, have a happy holiday season, we'll take some questions from the press. But give yourself a round of applause for all the help for making this possible.