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Collaboration provided more than 200,000 meals to vets & military families facing food shortages in New York City in 2020
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday announced the extension of a partnership between the state of New York and leading meal kit company HelloFresh, focused on delivering free meal kits to veterans and military families in New York City who are presently confronting food insecurity.
Since establishing this partnership in July 2020, HelloFresh has provided more than 200,000 nutritious meals to veterans and military families in New York City who are facing food insecurity due to COVID-19. Now, New York and HelloFresh are extending this collaboration through the second quarter of 2021, ensuring veterans and military families in New York City will continue to receive these nourishing meals throughout the challenging months ahead.
This partnership was made possible through collaboration with The Campaign Against Hunger, the New York City Department of Veterans' Services, and Black Veterans for Social Justice to provide this high-quality food in weekly distributions.
"Far too many service members in our communities have been forced to endure obstacles during the COVID-19 pandemic, and, sadly, one of those has been a lack of food," Cuomo said. "Especially during these uncertain times, it's critical we ensure the brave men and women who served our nation have access to nutritious food, and the continuation of this successful collaboration with HelloFresh will help ensure these heroes do not go hungry.”
The Campaign Against Hunger, Black Veterans for Social Justice, and the New York City Department of Veterans' Services will continue to serve as collaborators in this initiative, gathering weekly at The Campaign Against Hunger's headquarters in Brooklyn to receive the food delivery from HelloFresh, sort and pack the food into meal kits, and distribute the food to Veterans and military families confronting food insecurity throughout the city.
"We repay the debt we owe our veterans by ensuring they have good jobs, decent homes and fresh food," Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said. "I'm proud to see New York companies like HelloFresh step up and partner with New York state to make sure our veterans do not go hungry as a result of COVID-19.”
This unique model that engages veterans volunteering in service to other veterans has seeded three more veteran food programs in the Bronx, Buffalo and the North Country. Similar efforts from the summer of 2020 onward provided tens of thousands of Nourish New York food boxes and U.S. Department of Agriculture “Farmers To Families” food boxes for veterans in Western New York, distributed weekly through a collaboration among Western New York Heroes and FeedMore WNY. A new branch of this initiative, focusing on providing nourishing food to veterans and military families in the North Country region, will begin this month, with the Join Council for Economic Opportunity of Clinton and Franklin counties and the Clinton County Veterans Service Agency taking the lead in the on-the-ground coordination of this effort.
A press release said, “Food insecurity is shockingly prevalent among veterans, service members, and their families. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs reports that veterans who served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are twice as likely to be food insecure compared with the general population.”
A 2018 study showed 1.5 million veterans in the U.S. lived in a household that relied completely on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to supplement their food intake. A Center on Budget & Policy Priorities report published in January 2020 showed that, in New York state alone, 59,000 veterans rely on SNAP benefits to feed themselves and their families – a number that only worsened due to the adverse impacts of COVID-19.
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball said, "I want to thank HelloFresh for its partnership to get fresh food to New York's Veterans and military families during this stressful time. This program builds on Nourish New York's successful effort to link farmers who lost markets for their products to families struggling with food insecurity during the pandemic. As part of that, Nourish New York continues its focus on getting healthy New York food to our Veteran communities.”
New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Mike Hein said, "Food insecurity sadly impacts so many individuals and families throughout New York, including veterans who honorably served our nation and their families. We can begin to repay our debt of gratitude to these New Yorkers by ensuring they have healthy nutritious food amid the evolving challenges of this ongoing public health crisis. We are pleased to see this program build upon the resounding successes of Nourish New York and proud to support a partnership that will ensure our state's veterans will have food to feed their families during their time in need.”
Joel Evans, executive deputy director of the New York State Division of Veterans Services, said, "No veteran should ever confront a lack of food for themselves or for their family members. We unfortunately know that too many veterans and military families are confronting this hardship, and we are committed to doing everything that we can to address this issue. We know that the COVID-19 crisis is still not over, and we cannot thank HelloFresh enough for devoting their time and resources to continuing this life-changing partnership. We also continue to give our thanks to The Campaign Against Hunger, Black Veterans for Social Justice, and the New York City Department of Veterans' Services for their boots on the ground efforts that make this mission a success every week.”
Wendy McClinton, CEO, Black Veterans for Social Justice said, "Black Veterans for Social Justice Inc. is honored and counts it as a privilege to service our nation's veterans with the same commitment, loyalty and valor these many men and women served our country. We will continue to join forces with NYC Department of Veterans Services, the Campaign Against Hunger and HelloFresh to end the epidemic that results in the lack of food amongst veterans and the communities in which they reside."
CEO of HelloFresh U.S. Uwe Voss said, "Ensuring that everyone has access to fresh, healthy food is central to our mission at HelloFresh. As food insecurity continues to intensify with the ongoing pandemic, we are proud to extend this important partnership with Gov. Cuomo and the state of New York to bring deserving veterans and military families nourishing meals each week.”