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Island Harvest Food Bank, Legislators Call on Governor Cuomo to Work to Fund Farm-to-Food-Bank Bill in Upcoming State Budget

LongIsland.com

Hunger-relief advocates, legislators and farming community urge Governor Cuomo and the legislature to work together in providing appropriations in the upcoming state budget for funding farm-to-food-bank legislation.

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(L to R): Assemblyman Phil Ramos; Senator John Brooks; Island Harvest board members Ellen Sanders and Doug Nadjari; Assemblymen Andrew Raia and Al Graf; Rob Carpenter, LI Farm Bureau; Senator Elaine Phillips; Mike Babich, Island Harvest Board Member; Island Harvest president & CEO Randi Shubin Dresner; Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick; and NYS Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan.

Photo by: Photo courtesy of Island Harvest Food Bank.

Hauppauge, NY - March 15, 2017 - State legislators, including Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, and Assemblyman Phil Ramos recently joined Island Harvest Food Bank, the Long Island Farm Bureau and anti-hunger advocates in calling on Governor Cuomo and the legislature to work together in providing appropriations in the upcoming state budget for funding farm-to-food-bank legislation. The bill would provide modest tax credits for New York’s farmers donating excess produce to food banks, and other emergency feeding programs across the state. Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed two previous bills because of the lack of appropriation.

“In 2016, New York’s farmers generously donated more than 12 million pounds of food to help address the critical issue of hunger and food insecurity, including two million pounds donated by Long Island’s farmers,” said Randi Shubin Dresner, president, and CEO, Island Harvest Food Bank. Shubin Dresner, who is also chair of the advocacy committee of the NY Food Bank Association. “For their generosity, farmers are often breaking even, or losing on labor, packaging, transportation, and other costs.”  Since establishing a partnership in 2008 between Island Harvest Food Bank and Long Island’s farmers, approximately 11 million pounds of fruits and vegetables have been donated to help feed Long Island families struggling with hunger. The alliance is among the largest farm-to-food-bank programs in New York State.

“New York farmers who help our food banks by providing assistance to struggling families should be commended for their philanthropy and the state should work with them in their efforts.  The costs of donating this food can be substantial to small farmers and the state must make every effort to protect these hard-working men and women from bearing an unfair burden.  That is why the farm-to-food tax credit will be in our one-house budget proposal and we will work with our Assembly colleagues and Governor Cuomo to ensure it becomes a reality this year,” stated Senator Flanagan.

Farm-to-food-bank initiatives greatly benefit New York’s hunger-relief organizations and the people they serve, providing them with healthy, nutritious fruits and vegetables.  Food insecurity, and the lack of access to healthy, nutritious food, has been cited as a leading cause of diabetes, hypertension, obesity and other chronic health problems among low-income individuals.

The American Heart Association, the National Institutes of Health, and Feeding America, a leading, national anti-hunger organization, have determined that there is a definitive link between health and hunger.  According to Feeding America’s Hunger in America 2014 study, 21 percent of Long Island households served by local food banks reported at least one member with diabetes, and 50 percent stated having a member with high blood pressure.

Shubin Dresner says, “Farm-to-food-bank initiatives are a means of getting more healthy fruits and vegetables to food insecure people whose health often suffers due to the lack of a balanced diet. The bill is truly a win-win since it encourages growers to donate more nutritious food to those who need it most.”

“Governor Cuomo has long been a champion of the approximately 2.7 million New Yorkers in the unenviable position of knowing hunger firsthand. We’re confident he will work with the legislature in adopting a proposal in the budget that benefits the farmers, the state, and most importantly, those who ultimately gain from the farmers’ generosity,” concluded Shubin Dresner.

About Hunger on Long Island
Hunger is a state in which people do not get enough food to provide the nutrients for active and healthy lives. It can result from the recurrent lack of access to food. More than 316,000 Long Islanders face the risk of hunger every day, according to Island Harvest Food Bank and Feeding America, a national hunger-relief organization. Those facing hunger include adults (often working two jobs), seniors and veterans. Unable to make ends meet, they (and their children) are often forced to go without food. Approximately 70,000 individuals seek food assistance in Nassau and Suffolk counties each week through soup kitchens, food pantries and other feeding programs served by Island Harvest Food Bank.

About Island Harvest Food Bank
Island Harvest Food Bank is a leading hunger-relief organization that provides food and other resources to people in need. Always treating those it helps with dignity and respect, its goal is to end hunger and reduce food waste on Long Island through efficient food collection and distribution; enhanced hunger-awareness and nutrition-education programs; job training; and direct services targeted at children, senior citizens, veterans and others at risk. Approximately 96 cents of every dollar donated to Island Harvest Food Bank goes to programs that support more than 316,000 Long Islanders. Island Harvest Food Bank is a lead agency in the region’s emergency-response preparedness for food and product distribution, and is a member of Feeding America, the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief organization. More information can be found at www.islandharvest.org.