Feeding New York State Achieves Five-Million-Pound Milestone

New York State DEC / YouTube.

(WNY News Now) – Feeding New York State, in partnership with the state government, surpasses a remarkable milestone by collecting five million pounds of food, thanks to the New York State Food Donation and Food Scraps Recycling Law, reducing waste and aiding the environment while providing essential sustenance to those in need.

New York – Feeding New York State, the association representing New York’s ten Feeding America member food banks, has achieved a significant milestone by collecting an astounding five million pounds of food. This accomplishment is a direct result of the ongoing implementation of the New York State Food Donation and Food Scraps Recycling Law, designed to reduce waste, mitigate climate-altering emissions from landfills, and simultaneously address the food needs of New Yorkers.

Governor Kathy Hochul expressed her support for these initiatives, stating, “New York State is proud to support initiatives to help ensure that families have access to healthy, quality food. This repurpose effort supports our community food supplies while taking innovative steps to reduce greenhouse gases from landfilled waste as we continue to move forward in actions to achieve the State’s ambitious climate goals. I congratulate Feeding NYS, our food scrap providers, and our state partners in reaching this extraordinary milestone.”

The New York State Food Donation and Food Scraps Recycling Law has been instrumental in diverting food away from disposal at the state’s largest food-related businesses. To facilitate the law’s successful implementation and promote food donations, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) provided a substantial $4.8 million to Feeding New York State (Feeding NYS) and the ten regional food banks through the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). This funding, which became available in October 2021, has been used to deploy staff to various food industry facilities, including grocery stores, restaurants, and colleges, encouraging them to participate in the program and donate surplus food. Furthermore, the funds have supported equipment purchases for the regional food banks to enhance their capacity for food pickup at food pantries, meal centers, and other partner agencies.

The partnership between New York State and Feeding NYS serves as a leading model for food diversion programs nationwide. The law’s implementation, along with the state’s investments in this initiative, has led to the successful diversion of millions of pounds of food to those in need. As of October 2023, Feeding NYS reported receiving over 300,000 pounds of monthly food donations in the last six months, marking a significant increase from the program’s initial launch in October 2021 when it received 50-60,000 pounds per month. The program had previously reached the one-million-pound food donation milestone in August 2022.

Basil Seggos, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, commended the success of New York’s food diversion efforts, which have kept five million pounds of healthy food out of landfills. “With the continued support of Governor Kathy Hochul, DEC’s ongoing efforts to divert healthy food away from landfills are helping to reduce greenhouse gases and achieve the State’s ambitious climate mandates,” Seggos noted. He also praised Feeding NYS and other state and local partners for their dedication to this program, emphasizing the benefits it offers to all New Yorkers.

Dan Egan, Executive Director of Feeding NYS, highlighted the importance of this initiative in addressing food insecurity, saying, “We are fortunate that Governor Hochul is supporting our work to divert edible food to the food bank network so our neighbors can have additional wholesome food. New York State is leading the nation with our model for edible food waste recovery and reuse, benefiting the food industry, our hungry neighbors, and our environment. We have recovered five million pounds so far, but we are just getting started. We expect to recover six million this fiscal year alone, and will continue expanding this program for the future.”

The progress made under the State’s Food Donation and Food Scraps Recycling Law has not only brought a significant amount of food to communities in need but has also been instrumental in advancing environmental goals. Richard A. Ball, New York State Agriculture Commissioner, acknowledged the importance of feeding programs in addressing food insecurity and supporting local farmers. He stated, “This program complements that work and all of the State programs that, together with our partners, are addressing the fight against hunger while also furthering our climate agenda.”

State Senator Pete Harckham, who introduced the legislation in the Senate, commended the milestone, recognizing its multi-faceted benefits. He noted, “This remarkable amount of food donated and collected here in New York means major benefits are being achieved: less food insecurity for residents, lower garbage collection costs, and reduced greenhouse gases being emitted at our landfills.”

The release of methane from organic waste in landfills is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the waste sector, as outlined in the draft Scoping Plan for the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). Taking action to reduce landfilling of organic waste is pivotal in achieving New York’s climate goals. DEC has allocated $1.6 million directly to emergency food relief organizations and $5.3 million to municipalities for programs aimed at reducing wasted food, food donation, and food scraps recycling.

Amidst the ongoing big game hunting season in the state, New York’s hunters are reminded of their role in addressing food insecurity through venison donation efforts. Each year, DEC collaborates with the Venison Donation Coalition and Feeding NYS to provide food for those in need. Through this cooperation, hunters contribute nearly 40 tons of venison annually to assist needy families across the state. In 2022, DEC issued more than $16,000 in hunter-donated funds to Feeding NYS and over $8,000 to the Venison Donation Coalition.

Hunters have multiple ways to contribute, such as donating their deer or part of it at cooperating processors, offering financial support to their regional food bank, or making a cash donation to the Venison Donation Coalition when purchasing their hunting license. These initiatives play a vital role in helping feed local families and addressing food insecurity.

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