In Albany, as the state budget is being finalized, Met Council is celebrating successfully securing an additional $50 million for the Nourish New York Initiative, a vital tool in the fight against food insecurity and an important lifeline for the state’s local farmers. After initially being slated to only receive $25 million in initial budget proposals, Nourish NY received $50 million in the budget’s final form thanks to a coalition of legislators.
Nourish New York is an emergency food program that was created last year thanks to early pandemic advocacy by Met Council on Jewish Poverty. Since the start of the pandemic Met Council had distributed over 15 million pounds of free food to more than 305,000 New Yorkers in need and assisted over 380 food pantries.
When the pandemic first hit last March, Met Council quickly ran a campaign to secure emergency funding for food pantries across New York. Those efforts helped secure over $100 million for food pantries from New York State just this past year. Though Met Council receives but a fraction of this funding for its food distributions and pantries, they turned to their allies in Albany to help lead this charge because of how essential a weapon Nourish NY is in the fight against food insecurity.
Nourish NY was inaugurated by Governor Andrew Cuomo last spring in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and at the behest of Met Council and other emergency food providers across New York State. In the year since the program’s formation, over 21 million pounds of surplus agricultural products have been purchased from New York farmers and distributed to more than 1.3 million households in need across New York. Millions of New Yorkers are still struggling and Nourish NY needed to be fully funded in 2021 in order to help the most people. Thanks to the governor, legislative leaders, and the advocates calling for the full $50 million, more and more New Yorkers will have nutritious food on their tables and in their pantries.
“We at Met Council work tirelessly to provide for the ever-increasing number of New Yorkers living in food insecurity because of Covid, but we cannot do it alone. Thanks to our friends in Albany and allies across the state, this farmers to food pantries program will go a long way to helping struggling farmers and hungry New Yorkers,” said David G. Greenfield, CEO of Met Council. “We were proud to lead public policy efforts to combat food insecurity and use our voice to ensure Nourish NY received the full $50 million it needs in 2021 to be as effective and wide-reaching as possible. The $100 million allocated since the program’s inception last spring has and will continue to be immensely helpful to millions of New Yorkers.”
As budget negotiations continued into early April, many things were up for discussion and debate. However, funding the Nourish NY initiative was not debatable,” said New York State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. “I am proud to be able to help fund Nourish NY, which will allow amazing organizations like the Met Council who serve Kosher and Halal meals to communities within my district and across New York free of charge, to continue their important work. At a time when more New Yorkers are food insecure due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Nourish NY initiative is even more important, and I am happy to see it funded in the budget.”
“As our state begins to rebound from the fiscal impact of the pandemic, food insecurity continues to loom over the lives of low-income New Yorkers who continue to struggle to feed their families. The Nourish NY program will continue to provide much needed relief to the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who depend on food pantries to support their families. I want to thank The Met Council for partnering with our office over the last year to provide food boxes to our community. With support from their organization and others like it, we were able to feed countless members of our community who would have otherwise gone hungry,” said Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz.
“Millions of people across New York are unsure whether or not they’ll be able to feed their families, and they need a lifeline especially during this pandemic. That’s why I’m pleased to support a state budget of $50 million allocated towards the continued funding of the Nourish New York initiative,” said Senator Andrew Gounardes. “This money will allow New York’s food providers to purchase surplus products from New York farmers and deliver them to those in need. Southern Brooklyn in particular has a high unmet need for emergency food, and now with this additional funding, families in the 22nd District can once again know where their next meal will come from.”