The generosity of New York farmers was on full display today during a major food donation event. New York Farm Bureau members along with the Food Bank Association of New York State announced this morning that farmers from across the state donated nine million pounds of fresh food and farm products this year through the month of November. That translates to more than seven million meals being provided to New Yorkers in need. And with a month to go in the donation effort and additional reporting anticipated from Food Banks, the large number is expected to climb. In addition, the New York Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee gave a $500 contribution today to the Food Bank Association of New York State.
Today’s announcement at the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York is in conjunction with the start of New York Farm Bureau’s 2017 State Annual Meeting in Albany. Members and agricultural partners give during a yearlong effort to feed the hungry across the state. Capital Region farmers brought local squash, apples, and milk to add to the donated product for today’s announcement, and they were joined by the Commissioner of New York State Agriculture and Markets, Richard Ball.
The food is collected through the “Harvest for All” donation program, a nationwide annual farm donation partnership linking Farm Bureau and Feeding America in each state. In New York, NYFB’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee and the Food Bank Association of NYS administer the statewide donation partnership. The food is then distributed among the 10 Feeding America food banks throughout the state. Beginning next year, farmer donations will qualify for a small tax credit of up to $5,000 of the price of donated food to offset a portion of the costs to pick, package and deliver the fresh produce to regional food banks and pantries. This is a result of the passage of the Farm to Food Bank Bill that New York Farm Bureau and the Food Bank Association advocated for, which was included in the 2017-2018 New York State Budget.
“New York farmers come through year after year with generous donations of fresh food to help feed people in their communities who may be struggling. This effort remains a priority for New York Farm Bureau and we are proud to partner with Feeding America and our outstanding regional food banks across the state. They perform a great service and work with our farmers to make the donation process as easy as possible to get local food from the farm fields to the people in need. On behalf of our members, I would like to thank the farmers who donated product this year and the regional food banks for all of their important work,” said David Fisher, New York Farm Bureau President.
“The longstanding and committed partnership between New York Farm Bureau and local food banks has produced remarkable results. Simply put, without this partnership, it would be much harder to feed the hungry in New York State, much less provide them with healthy options. The 10 Food Banks of New York State understand that the healthy product, which is shared out of the fields, farms and hearts of New York Farm Bureau members, builds healthy communities. We thank the farmers for their heartfelt cooperation as we continue to feed New York State with their help,” said Anita Paley, executive director of the Food Bank Association of New York State.
“The Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York thanks New York Farm Bureau and its members for their generous support and continued commitment to the Harvest for All program,” said Joanne Dwyer, the Food Bank’s Director of Food Industry Relations & Business Development Representative. “We are excited and grateful for the opportunity to host this event and work with farmers throughout our 23 counties year round to recover surplus farm fresh food for the nearly 1,000 non-profit programs we serve. With more apples, squash, and other hard crop produce coming in through December, we expect our 2017 total to reach new heights.”
“New York farmers consistently lead the nation in donations to food banks and it is very gratifying to see the next generation stepping up and recognizing the power in doing the right thing. I am excited to join New York Farm Bureau, the Regional Food Bank and our local farmers in celebrating the great work they are doing and opportunities to do even more, to feed more families, in the coming year,” said State Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball.
“New York Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee is proud to be a longtime supporter of the “Harvest for All” program. We have seen first-hand, through our volunteer efforts, both the commitment from farmers and the need that exists in our communities year-round for healthy, fresh food. We encourage farmers across the state to think of their local food banks as a way to give back or when they have excess product that would otherwise go to waste,” said Kristen Brown, New York Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee Chair.