Buffalo – Assemblymember Jon D. Rivera was joined today by Assemblymember Catalina Cruz at West Side Community Services in Buffalo to announce that through the efforts of the New York State Assembly Majority, the 2022-23 state budget will allocate a critically needed $50 million in funding toward the Nourish New York program — $4.5 million of which will be directly received by FeedMore WNY.
Additionally, Rivera is providing FeedMore WNY with $200,000 in further funding through the New York State and Community Capital Assistance Program (CCAP), which will be utilized by the organization to expand workforce opportunities and bolster key programs. Rivera made the announcement at West Side Community Services, which operates a food pantry on Buffalo’s West Side, supported by FeedMore WNY.
At a time when hundreds of thousands of residents across New York are facing hunger and food insecurity, our state’s emergency food providers are simultaneously facing extreme challenges in securing adequate amounts of food in the face of escalating pressures as a result of supply chain struggles and rising inflation.
Food prices have reached their highest level in 11 years and this dramatic increase has been relatively sudden, inflicting ambiguity and hunger across populations already vulnerable to food insecurity.
The Nourish New York program, launched in April of 2020 as a way to help struggling New York farms and tackle the hunger crisis worsened by the pandemic, provides state funding to food banks and other emergency food providers for the direct purchase of fresh fruits, vegetables, and dairy products from New York farmers and dairy processors, which are then distributed to individuals and families experiencing food insecurity.
Since the program’s emergence, 21 million pounds of surplus agricultural products have been purchased from over 4,000 New York farms and delivered to more than 1.3 million New Yorkers in need across New York State.
Assemblymember Catalina Cruz, instrumental in the founding of the program, worked with State Sen. Michelle Hinchey to draft a bill to make it a permanent state fixture. Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the bill in November 2021.
In Western New York, FeedMore WNY’s food bank and Meals on Wheels programs have effectively fed the underserved for nearly 100 years combined. The organization’s food bank program distributes millions of pounds of nutritious fresh and shelf-stable foods to nearly 300 pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters and other hunger-relief agencies throughout Erie, Niagara, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties each year.
In NYS Assembly District 149 alone, FeedMore WNY has 45 member agencies, 15 food pantries, 8 community dining sites, 8 BackPack Programs, 4 shelters, 3 home-delivered meal sites, 3 school pantries, 2 soup kitchens, one group home and one adult snack program.
Through all of FeedMore WNY’s feeding programs in NY 149, more than 12,000 individuals are served annually; this equates to more than 1.3 million meals to the constituents in the district.
Assemblymember Jon D. Rivera said, “The Nourish New York program has been instrumental in maintaining critical links between our state’s farms and emergency food providers, while the impact that FeedMore WNY has locally in feeding underserved and vulnerable populations cannot be understated. I am honored to be able to bolster these crucial programs and organizations at a time in which our fellow residents need broader and more direct access to fresh food more than they ever have.
Assemblymember Catalina Cruz said, “The Nourish NY program created a critical pipeline to bring fresh food from our State’s farms to the neighborhoods that needed it most. Incepted during the Covid-19 pandemic, it served as a lifeline both to the farms who needed economic relief and the families who were struggling to survive. However, it also highlighted the severity of food insecurity statewide, which is why we passed legislation making it a permanent program. I am honored to have sponsored this bill in the Assembly, and to stand with my colleague Assemblymember Jon Rivera, who has committed additional money to enhance the program in his district.”
Tara A. Ellis, FeedMore WNY president and CEO said, “In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down western New York, it exacerbated the already longstanding problem of food insecurity in Western New York. Since 2020, FeedMore WNY has provided more than 12.6 million meals to the WNY community. This could not have been accomplished without the support from our community, hunger relief partners and our champions in government. The Nourish NY program, which was created in 2020 to help feed New Yorkers while providing additional revenue for our New York Farmers and producers, has been a lifeline for our hunger relief partners. We commend the efforts of Assemblywoman Cruz for being a champion for this program and the help it has provided to countless New Yorkers, and Assemblyman Rivera for ensuring that FeedMore WNY will be able to continue to serve the Western New York community in the future.”
Crystal Selk, executive director at West Side Community Services, said, “West Side Community Services is strengthened by supportive partnerships with other community organizations, like FeedMore WNY, and elected officials, like Assemblymember Jon Rivera. Since opening last year, our Provisions 139 market-style food pantry has been serving an average of 1,000 individuals each month. While we are proud of the work we’ve done so far, we know there is a wider need for accessible healthy food in our west Buffalo community. Funding through Nourish New York will help us reach more of our neighbors with local, fresh, culturally appropriate staples like meat, milk, fruit, and vegetables.”
Buffalo Councilmember David Rivera said, “My office has collaborated with FeedMore WNY on a number of occasions to distribute food to Niagara District residents.I can't thank Assemblymember Rivera enough for securing this additional funding for FeedMore WNY as they continue to provide such a vital service to residents at such a crucial time.”