Says new strategies at food banks will provide a strengthened safety net for the food insecure
Gov. Kathy Hochul recently announced New York state was awarded $2.7 million in Reach and Resiliency grant funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to expand The Emergency Food Assistance Program's reach into remote, rural, Tribal, and low-income areas currently underserved by the program. The grant is part of the USDA's “Build Back Better” initiative to support and expand the country's emergency food network so that food banks and local organizations can reliably serve their communities.
"We have a moral obligation to break down the logistic and stigmatic barriers that block access to nutritious, culturally relevant food for those who need it the most," Hochul said. "I'm inspired by the creative strategies the food banks will employ to support food insecure New Yorkers, and we will continue to take bold action to ensure no New Yorker ever goes hungry."
The Office of General Services' USDA food distribution group will administer the grant through its agreements with eight regional food banks that serve the entire state. Under the OGS agreements, the food banks distributed more than 90 million pounds of USDA foods in 2021 through their network of more than 2,700 organizations that faced increased demands for food during the pandemic.
Collectively, the food banks will establish and increase the use of mobile and pop-up food pantries; facilitate custom ordering to increase the delivery of culturally relevant foods; purchase a refrigerated truck and hire more drivers to transport TEFAP food; expand a commercial cooler and purchase refrigerators, freezers and shelves to store more TEFAP food safely; and establish and fortify relationships in underserved communities to enable broader access to TEFAP foods for the food insecure in remote, rural, Tribal, and low-income areas.
Office of General Services Commissioner Jeanette Moy said, "OGS's long-standing relationships with the food banks enable us to effectively supplement the nutritional needs of New York's most vulnerable populations in all reaches of the state. Our dedicated staff help ensure the food banks distribute TEFAP foods equitably and expeditiously to locations throughout New York state. With Gov. Hochul's leadership and the food banks' partnerships, OGS is proud to help close the hunger gap in New York."
OGS will retain a small amount of the grant funds to cover its costs of oversight and monitoring, and provide the following amounts to the food banks to implement their solutions: $1,455,739 to the Food Bank for New York City in the Bronx; $252,884 to the Regional Food Bank Northeastern New York in Latham; $181,753 to FeedMore Western New York in Buffalo; $171,697 to Food Bank of Central New York in Syracuse; $143,489 to Foodlink in Rochester; $123,867 to Long Island Cares in Hauppauge; $62,056 to Feeding Westchester in Elmsford; and $61,320 to Food Bank of the Southern Tier in Elmira.
U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko said, "The COVID pandemic, supply chain shortages and spiking costs have caused immense pain across our nation and left far too many families struggling to put food on the table. I've pushed hard to secure federal funds to address these issues and deliver our regional food bank vital resources to support those in our communities who are most in need. I'm thankful for (this) announcement that will help ensure New York families do not go hungry."
FeedMore WNY President and CEO Tara A. Ellis said, "FeedMore WNY is deeply grateful to the New York State Office of General Services and the United States Department of Agriculture for this TEFAP grant. This critical funding will enable FeedMore WNY to purchase a 26-foot refrigerated truck and hire a driver in order to safely distribute more nutritious TEFAP foods to our hunger-relief partners serving our rural neighbors in Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties."