ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — The Nourish New York program was created during the pandemic as a way to help with the disrupted food chain which is now a permanent program, but a state audit from the Comptroller’s Office shows there isn’t enough oversight for Nourish New York.
Experts say one in 10 New Yorkers suffer with food insecurity. The program was created to alleviate that issue as well as helping local farmers by connecting them with food banks. “So it provides money for food banks to purchase directly from New York State farmers so they get the freshest produce, they get local milk products that are then distributed to people in need and regional food banks, and in pantries all across the state,” explained Steve Ammerman, Director of Communications for the New York Farm Bureau. Ammerman said more than 4000 farms have taken part in the program.
State comptroller Tom DiNapoli told Capitol Correspondent, Amal Tlaige, this is a win-win program, but there’s room for improvement. “Not only in terms of communication and coordination but documentation to in fact show that the food products are in fact New York grown,” said DiNapoli. The program is run by the Department of Health and Department of Agriculture and Markets. Tlaige reached out to both agencies but was unable to schedule an interview. DiNapoli said if the agencies can make the program work better, it’s certainly a plus for the state, “What was nice about this audit is that the response from the agencies was positive. They generally accepted our recommendations.”
Some of those recommendations include verifying purchases made with Nourish New York funds meet the program requirements, maintain a farm product list to help food relief organizations find products, and review and approve all claims for payment. “This was a program that made sense, has been working, so we need to tighten it up to make sure that it’s intent is, in fact being fulfilled, but I think we can, and I think the agencies are prepared to do that and I think the legislature and the governor want to continue to support Nourish New York,” said DiNapoli.
Funding in the budget will be set aside for the program. You can visit agriculture.ny.gov to find out more about Nourish New York.