On Friday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the release of more than $522,000 in FreshConnect grants to 34 projects across the Empire State. The funds aim to boost local incentives that improve access to fresh, healthy foods – that farmers grow.
"This is really a win-win situation for farmers and for families across the state as we try to provide more access and easier access to locally grown, fresh farm products," says Cuomo. New York's underserved market is huge. Almost 1.5 million New Yorkers live in areas with limited supermarket access.
This year's program substantially expands on last year's success. The program helps improve nutrition and lowers costs related to obesity and diet-related disease. It also fosters community and economic development. FreshConnect projects are born from the ground up and are a true reflection of the need and interest at the local level to help better connect fresh and healthy food, explains NYS Ag Commissioner Darrel Aubertine. Examples of funded projects include:
- Farmers' markets and youth-operated farm stands will be created or expanded to better serve low-income residents in food deserts.
- Subsidized Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares or low-income CSA programs that'll introduce more than 100 new families to weekly deliveries of fresh fruits and vegetables
- Introduce EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) services at 13 farmers' markets for accepting Food Stamps, plus increase use of Women, Infants and Children (WIC) checks and nutritional program coupons.
- Free transportation to boost customer traffic at farmers markets.
- Improve distribution of locally grown, fresh food to food pantries and congregate feeding programs.
"This type of direct marketing and encouraging use of EBT at farmers markets will result in greater sales for our farmers and will put more farm fresh fruits and vegetables on the plates of those in need," adds Diane Eggert, executive director of the Farmers Market Federation of New York
FreshConnect is administered through a partnership between the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, Empire State Development, and the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. 2012 grant recipients include:
- Downtown Jamestown Development Corporation: $10,000
- Foodlink, Inc., Rochester: $20,000
- Chemung County Cornell Cooperative Extension, Elmira: $6,731
- Tioga County Cornell Cooperative Extension, Owego: $6,700
- Tompkins County Cornell Cooperative Extension, Ithaca: $20,000
- Village of Newark Valley: $994
- Central Adirondack Partnership for the 21st Century, Old Forge: $4,900
- Village of Sharon Springs: $9,999
- Gardenshare, Inc., Canton: $9,500
- Capital District Coop, Menands: $10,000
- Cooperative Community Food Compact, Inc., Nassau: $10,000
- Schenectady Greenmarket: $6,926
- City of Mount Vernon: $9,939
- Northeast Community Council, Inc., Millerton: $8,705
- Port Jervis Community Development Agency: $6,962
- Ulster County Cornell Cooperative Extension, Kingston: $20,000
- EcoStation: NY Inc., Brooklyn: $10,000
- God's Battalion of Prayer Church, Brooklyn: $9,000
- GrowNYC, New York: $19,330
- Harlem Memorial Community Development, New York: $15,000
- Inwood Church, New York: $20,000
- New York City Coalition Against Hunger, New York: $10,000
- United Community Centers Inc., Brooklyn: $10,000
- Weeksville Heritage Center, Brooklyn: $10,000
- Amber Waves Farm, Amagansett: $10,000
- Long Island Cares, Inc.-The Harry Chapin Food Bank, Hauppauge: 10,000
- Town of Southampton: 10,000
- Wyandanch Community Development Corporation, Wyandanch: 10,000