As she has done so many times during the COVID-19 pandemic, Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz helped La Jornada distribute food to 5,000 families on Saturday, Nov. 20, at the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
Governor Kathy Hochul joined Cruz, her colleagues in government, and community advocates in the parking lot afterward to sign Cruz’s landmark Nourish NY legislation into law making the program permanent.
“The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the hunger and food insecurity problems already plaguing many communities across the state including thousands of families in my district,” Cruz said. “Nourish NY provided a lifesaving opportunity to support the food pantries caring for our neighbors while fighting for the survival of our farming community.”
Cruz added that she’s proud to have pushed for the allocation of $50 million to Nourish NY in this year’s budget.
“Additionally, together with the signing of this law, we are now ensuring the continuity of this lifesaving program. It is now critical that we now also strengthen our emergency food system through a yearly review included in this new law,” she said.
Through three rounds of the program, New York’s food banks purchased over 35 million pounds of food products, which equates to 29,800,000 meals, according to the governor’s office. In this current fourth round, food banks across the state have purchased 6,903,366 pounds of food, creating an additional 5,752,805 meals for households in need.
“The COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented hardship to so many New Yorkers and made the situations for those already struggling even worse,” Hochul said. “The implementation of the Nourish NY program was a huge success in helping those facing food insecurity while also benefiting New York’s farms. As we get ready to celebrate the holidays, I am proud to sign this legislation to ensure our state will continue to combat hunger and provide for those in need.”
State Senator Michelle Hinchey, the chair of the Committee on Agriculture, traveled from her upstate district to join Cruz and Hochul at the signing ceremony.
“During one of the darkest moments our state has ever faced, Nourish NY was a beacon of compassionate, bipartisan support that addressed the devastating surge in food insecurity and provided upstate farmers, who were struggling to stay in business, with a new avenue to continue feeding our communities,” Hinchey said, calling the Nourish NY program “a win-win in every sense of the word.”