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Governor Cuomo Announces FreshConnect Grants to Help Provide Low-Income & Underserved Communities with NY Farm Products

34 Projects Feature Creative, Local Solutions to Improve Access to Fresh, Healthy Food

May 3, 2012 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced FreshConnect grants to 34 projects around the state that will increase access to New York farm products for residents in low-income and underserved areas.

"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," Governor Cuomo said. "These FreshConnect grants will support creative solutions to get New York farm products to underserved areas of the state, creating new economic opportunities for our farmers while, at the same time, providing healthy options for more New Yorkers."

Almost 1.5 million New Yorkers live in areas with limited supermarket access. Expanding access to fresh food in underserved communities has been shown to both improve nutrition and lower costs related to obesity and diet-related disease, while also fostering community and economic development. Governor Cuomo launched the FreshConnect program last year to create new farmers' markets and support existing markets that provided fresh produce to high-need areas. With this round of funding, the program will have helped a total of 48 projects throughout the state bring New York farm products to communities in need.

The Governor expanded the FreshConnect Program this year to support not only farmers' markets, but other creative solutions to improve access to fresh, locally produced food by low-income or underserved communities. As a result, the program received over 121 proposals and is providing funding to the top projects that exhibit local innovative solutions to connect communities in need with New York farm products. Examples of funded projects include:

  • Farmers' markets and youth-operated farm stands that 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 will introduce over 100 new families to weekly deliveries of fresh fruits and vegetables
  • The introduction of EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) services for the first time at 13 farmers' markets to allow these farmers markets to accept Food Stamps, along with plans to increase Food Stamp purchases through promotion and incentives
  • Free transportation services to help increase traffic at existing markets and allow those with limited resources an opportunity to attend and shop at a farmers' market
  • Improving distribution of locally grown, fresh food to food pantries and congregate feeding programs

Applicants received extra points in the competitive ranking process for including a food donation program in their proposed project. As a result, nearly all recipients of FreshConnect funding will be coordinating a local food donation program to connect food pantries or food banks with New York farm products, as part of their funded project. All FreshConnect projects will accept Food Stamps, if applicable, and are encouraged to accept Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Fruit & Vegetable Checks, Farmers' Market Nutrition Program coupons, and Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition coupons, to ensure that all citizens have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, regardless of income.

The FreshConnect program will also support the continuation of its flagship market, the 125th Street FreshConnect Farmers' Market, located at the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. New York State Office Building in Central Harlem. Slated to open in mid-June and to be managed by the Harlem Memorial Community Development Corporation, the market will feature a wide assortment of New York farm products, as well as family activities and community outreach that will support the FreshConnect program's mission to increase access to fresh food in low-income and underserved neighborhoods.

The FreshConnect program will also again offer FreshConnect Checks, a nutrition incentive to encourage Food Stamp recipients to use their benefits at participating farmers' markets by providing $2 rebate checks for every $5 in Food Stamps spent at participating markets.

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine said, "Like the crops we harvest, the FreshConnect projects Governor Cuomo is awarding today 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 from New York farmers with those in rural and urban areas that lack access."

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, said, "This is great news for so many families across New York. Millions of New Yorkers do not have access to fresh, healthy food. This program will help ensure that more families are able to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, which gives people the opportunity to live longer, healthier lives, saves billions in health care costs, and creates good-paying jobs right here at home."

U.S. Representative Charles B. Rangel said, "The projects promoted by the FreshConnect program represent one giant leap towards a healthier New York. I applaud Gov. Cuomo for continuing to find new and exciting ways to provide access to fresh food to underserved New Yorkers while giving a much needed boost to the State's agriculture. I am confident that the program will be a huge success and look forward to visiting the 125th Street FreshConnect Farmers' Market, located right by my district office."

U.S. Representative Nydia Velázquez said, "Making nutritious food available to underserved areas can help New Yorkers lead longer and healthier lives."

U.S. Representative Tim Bishop said, "These FreshConnect grants will help underserved communities on Long Island enjoy the many benefits of fresh produce and open up new markets for Suffolk County's farmers. Targeted grants to support existing Farmers' Markets and kick-start innovative programs will improve access to healthy fruits and vegetables throughout Long Island and all of New York."

U.S. Representative Chris Gibson said, "Family farms are essential to the fabric of our local Upstate New York communities. I firmly believe that our farmers are the hardest working, smartest farmers in the world. Their issue is profitability and this partnership will provide benefit to both local farms looking for new markets for their products and families looking to access more locally grown food. I am a strong proponent of 'buying local,' and applaud Governor Cuomo for this initiative to expand that philosophy across New York State. I look forward to advancing similar issues at a federal level in the upcoming Farm Bill."

State Senator Patty Ritchie, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said, "Farmers' markets across New York State are an important part of local economies, and Governor Cuomo's FreshConnect program has been a successful initiative in providing farmers with the help they need to sell their produce to more New Yorkers. The grants announced today will be a shot in the arm for local farms and agriculture communities across New York, while also ensuring that healthy food is made available to residents of our underserved communities. I commend the Governor for launching this initiative, and I look forward to working together in the future to continue to strengthen New York's vibrant farming community."

Assemblyman William Magee, Chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, said, "These grants will benefit New York's agriculture communities and residents, as farmers will be better able to market their produce and more New Yorkers will have access to fresh, healthy food. I thank Governor Cuomo for launching and supporting the FreshConnect program, and we will continue to work together to make New York's farm produce accessible to all New Yorkers."

John Evers, Executive Director of Food Bank Association of New York State, said, "The Food Banks are very excited about the Governor focusing on increasing access to fresh produce for those in need. There has never been a greater demand for fresh and healthy food. We thank Governor Cuomo for this exciting initiative and look forward to working with the recipients in their local communities."

Dean Norton, President of New York Farm Bureau, "Governor Cuomo's FreshConnect program represents an important investment in New York's agriculture industry. The projects announced today will help to better connect people living in underserved communities with our family farms and the fresh locally grown food that they produce every day. This represents a win-win for the citizens of New York State because it strengthens the state's agricultural business climate, while getting nutritious food to those who need it. I commend Governor Cuomo for his work on behalf of New York's farmers and look forward to continuing to work with him on this innovative program."

Diane Eggert, Executive Director of the Farmers Market Federation of New York, said, "Farmers markets are a proven system of increasing the availability of locally grown, fresh food in neighborhoods. Through the FreshConnect program, Governor Cuomo is taking this concept one step further by providing an incentive for communities to introduce new consumers to this type of direct marketing and to encourage the use of EBT at farmers markets that will result in greater sales for our farmers and will put more farm fresh fruits and vegetables on the plates of those in need."

The FreshConnect program 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 FreshConnect grant recipients include:


Downtown Jamestown Development Corporation - $10,000
The Downtown Jamestown Farmers' Market will promote existing transit service to increase access to residents in food deserts. Advertising inside and outside city buses, a regular bus stop at the market and discounted fares for the market will be used to promote the service.


Foodlink, Inc., Rochester - $10,000
The Partners Thru Food program will collaborate with local growers and distributors to source fresh, seasonal produce for ten farm stands that will be run by different local agencies in food insecure neighborhoods in Rochester.

Foodlink, Inc., Rochester - $10,000
A project that will deliver fresh produce directly to densely populated, ethically mixed food deserts in Rochester. Youth will be employed to transport food supplied by the food bank via bicycle, thus increasing accessibility and spurring entrepreneurial activity.

Rochester Roots, Inc., Rochester - $10,000
The Healthy Market Basket CSA project will provide 60 low-income CSA shares at the Clara Barton School, one of the poorest school districts in the State.


Chemung County Cornell Cooperative Extension, Elmira - $6,731
CCE will extend EBT/Food Stamp services to all farmers' markets in Chemung County. Currently, only one of the five markets offers EBT in this rural county.

Tioga County Cornell Cooperative Extension, Owego - $6,700
CCE will extend EBT/Food Stamp services to all registered farmers' markets in Tioga County, which include those markets in Waverly, Owego, Newark Valley and Spencer.

Tompkins County Cornell Cooperative Extension, Ithaca - $10,000
CCE will promote and expand EBT/Food Stamp use at rural farmers' markets in Caroline, Groton, Lansing, Newfield and Trumansburg. Outreach will be done at food pantries, where coupons for $5 will be provided to use at local farmers' markets.

Tompkins County Cornell Cooperative Extension, Ithaca - $10,000
A low-income CSA share project that will grow from 100 to 130 shares, as well as introduce 10 winter CSA shares and four CSA ambassadors who will assist in outreach and recruitment. Each share is half-price and comes with educational resources and cooking workshops.

Village of Newark Valley - $994
The new Newark Valley Farmers Market will bring market opportunities for local farmers and encourage low-income families to shop for local produce. The market will also provide transportation for the elderly, handicapped and inbound residents of Berkshire and Richford.


Central Adirondack Partnership for the 21st Century, Old Forge - $4,900
The Old Forge Farmers Market, in its fifth year, will expand its vendor base and community involvement by providing transportation for seniors and those with disabilities, promote the market with local church groups, and offer a farmers' market internship.

Village of Sharon Springs - $9,998
The Sharon Springs Farmers Market is a small market that was devastated by the 2011 floods soon after it opened, but strives to increase access to local food from beginning farmers in a low access area of Schoharie County. A 50% Food Stamp match program will be offered as an incentive.


Gardenshare, Inc., Canton - $9,500
A project that aims to double the amount of Food Stamp dollars spent at the Canton and Potsdam Farmers' Markets by providing a financial incentive of five EBT/Food Stamp tokens for every ten Food Stamp dollars spent and a $20 incentive for Food Stamp customers who attend more than three markets.


Capital District Coop, Menands - $10,000
Free transportation service will be provided on Saturday mornings for seniors and low-income families to bring them to the 75 year old farmers' market in Menands that is typically seen as out of way and held when there is a shortage of public transportation.

Cooperative Community Food Compact, Inc., Nassau - $10,000
The Nassau Compact is a food coop in rural Rensselaer County that offers free scholarships to low-income individuals and accepts Food Stamps. A unique way for local farmers to sell their products, which coop members order on-line and pick up at the weekly market at a local church.

Schenectady Greenmarket - $6,926
A new satellite market of the Schenectady Greenmarket will open in Bellevue as a result of a community survey calling for one. The market will take place at a church located in a food desert of the city and on the main route with ample parking.


City of Mount Vernon - $9,939
The City of Mt. Vernon Fresh Connect Market is entering its second year and will continue to focus on providing healthy, local produce to residents with fixed incomes and limited budgets at City Hall, which is centrally located and accessible by public transportation.

Northeast Community Council, Inc., Millerton - $8,705
Share the Bounty Farmers Market will be new in 2012 at the local public health clinic that will serve low-income residents in northeastern Dutchess County and offer nutrition education about fresh produce by a registered dietician once a month.

Port Jervis Community Development Agency - $6,962
The Port Jervis Sav-A-Lot grocery store will offer local farm products, as well as supply a mobile market to expand access to seniors and low-income residents. Cooking demonstrations will also be provided in-store and at senior centers.

Ulster County Cornell Cooperative Extension, Kingston - $10,000
CCE will secure locally grown healthy food and deliver to four area corner stores, where cooking demonstrations, recipe cards for seasonal produce and nutrition education will be shared.

Ulster County Cornell Cooperative Extension, Kingston - $10,000
A project to establish a mid-week satellite market in conjunction with the Kingston Farmers Market, which will be located in the heart of a food desert in mid-town Kingston and will serve lower-income and Spanish-speaking populations in the area.


EcoStation: NY Inc., Brooklyn - $10,000
A community outreach project in Bushwick, one of New York City's poorest neighborhoods, that will entail regular visits to WIC, senior and community centers, workshops centered around food and nutrition, as well as a new satellite market.

God's Battalion of Prayer Church, Brooklyn - $9,000
A project that will distribute New York produce on a bi-monthly basis to food pantries and congregate feeding programs using two churches as the "food hubs" and that will work with six to eight other churches in the neighborhood.

GrowNYC, New York - $9,330
The Cypress Hills Youthmarket is run by area youth in the Cypress Hills neighborhood of Central Brooklyn and provides job training and seasonal employment, as well as access to fresh farm products through direct wholesaling.

GrowNYC, New York - $10,000
A new youth-run farm stand, Roberto Clemente Plaza Youthmarket, located in a low-income, underserved area of the South Bronx will offer fresh and affordable farm products.

Harlem Memorial Community Development, New York - $15,000
The 125th Street FreshConnect Farmers' Market, located at the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. New York State Office Building, will offer unique farm products, activities, and community outreach to increase fresh food access in Central Harlem.

Inwood Church, New York - $10,000
A program that entails a network of urban farm stands operated by youth and supplied by New York farmers. The Go Green Youth Farm will expand its Dyckman Street operation to a second day to better serve the growing demand from local, low-income residents.

Inwood Church, New York - $10,000
A new urban farm stand will be created next to Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx where youth will provide local produce, weekly cooking classes and free comprehensive health examinations.

New York City Coalition Against Hunger, New York - $10,000
A project to expand and institutionalize six existing CSA projects and create a new CSA in a low-income food desert on Staten Island. The CSA model is unique in that low-income families are eligible to use Food Stamps and scholarships to offset costs.

United Community Centers Inc., Brooklyn - $10,000
A project to reduce barriers and increase access to locally grown food by enhancing programming for children at the East New York Farms market. Activities will include a "Let's Move" series, literature series, children cooking demonstrations and themed events.

Weeksville Heritage Center, Brooklyn - $10,000
A multi-tiered project that consists of a kitchen garden, farmers' market, cooking workshops and two in-school gardens that work to increase access to fresh produce and nutrition education, while preserving African American gardening and cooking traditions in Central Brooklyn.


Amber Waves Farm, Amagansett - $10,000
A project that will encourage local organic farmers to sell surplus produce to Long Island Cares, the local food bank, which in turn will make more organic produce available to low-income families throughout Long Island.

Long Island Cares, Inc. - The Harry Chapin Food Bank, Hauppauge - $10,000
A collaborative effort where Long Island Cares will purchase and deliver local Long Island produce weekly to two Catholic Charities senior sites in Freeport and Wyandanch.

Town of Southampton - $10,000
The youth-run Flanders Farm Fresh Food Market Project buys only from Southampton farmers. Entering its second year of operation, the market is located in a town with no grocery store and held weekly at a senior center on the main bus line.

Wyandanch Community Development Corporation, Wyandanch - $10,000
The Shiloh Community Farmers' Market is a new community-based, youth-staffed market that will increase access to fresh produce to low-income residents by accepting FMNP and Food Stamps.

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