PAVILION — Lieutenant Gov. Kathy Hochul got a firsthand look at how milk and other dairy products are produced at Noblehurst Farms and Craigs Station Creamery on Wednesday.
Hochul toured part of farm to see the work it does and promote the Nourish New York program that has been buying products from area farms to supply to residents in need.
“We realize there is a dual need out there,” Hochul said. “First of all, there is an extreme need of many families who never before had to take advantage of food banks. It could be they lost their jobs and have no income coming in.”
Nourish New York was launched in May, using $25 million in funding. The money helps food banks and emergency food providers buy food at wholesale prices from area farmers.
“The demand for food banks in some parts of our state is up over 200% so we knew we needed to act with urgency to make sure there was enough food to feed hungry families and individuals,” Hochul said.
She said the program has also been a big help to local farmers who have been struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. What has hurt them, she said, has been the ability to distribute products to their usual supply chains such as restaurants and schools, which were forced to close down.
“The farmers, especially the upstate farmers who are involved in dairy and produce production — they lost the market to the restaurants that had closed, and the schools that have closed, so this was a dual hit on our upstate economy,” Hochul said.
With the help of funding from Nourish New York, food banks can now buy milk, dairy products, tomatoes, vegetables and much more. Those products are then being given to families at food distribution events.
Hochul said the program is working so far.
“I am proud to report today that we spent $3.2 million, and over 3 million pounds of dairy and produce have been part of this program,” she said. “It involved over 4,000 farms throughout the state of New York. So this has been a lifesaver for many of the upstate farms.”
For Noblehurst Farms and its affiliated businesses and farms, the program has also helped to build bridges between other food providers.
“I think there is a bit of a disconnect between where the food is produced and where it is consumed. I think the purpose of the Nourish New York program is to help build some of the those bridges between the city and upstate,” said Noblehurst Vice President Chris Noble.
As a result of the program, nearly 5 million pounds of milk has been purchased from New York farms, for milk and other dairy products such as cheese, cottage cheese, and sour cream. New York State’s food banks have also spent nearly $226,000 to purchase kosher products, including milk and yogurt.
“At the end of the day they are doing something critically important for all New Yorkers, and that is giving us milk in the morning and food on our table at night,” Hochul said.
More than 100 additional food distribution events are scheduled across the state over the next two weeks. Hochul said those events could reach an estimated 20,000 households.