The HVADC Cultivator
FeedHV Distributes 70,288 Pounds of Dairy Products
Through the summer and fall of last year, the FeedHV Community Food Network, which is administered by HVADC, and Scenic Hudson joined forces to donate tens of thousands of pounds of high quality local milk and dairy products to those suffering from food insecurity throughout the region.
Thanks to the support of Scenic Hudson, FeedHV acquired the dairy from some of the best local farms, and donated it to community assistance organizations focused on feeding families and children in need. Receiving agencies included The Kingston YMCA Farm Project, Dutchess Outreach, The Friends of Hudson Youth and The People’s Place. The Regional Food Bank of Northeast New York was the program’s largest single recipient, distributing significant amounts of dairy to the numerous food banks they service throughout the Hudson Valley.
“HVADC is so proud of all the agencies that came together to make this dairy donation project a success and eternally grateful to Scenic Hudson for the support that made it possible,” Said Todd Erling, HVADC Executive Director. “Over 70 thousand pounds of dairy made a big difference to those who needed it most. The magic of this program is that it pays out twice, it pays our dairy farmers, who have been hit hard economically by the pandemic and it provides high quality nutritious food to the members of our community who are struggling. It’s the definition of a win-win.”
From May to November, the program donated 70,288 pounds of dairy consisting of 7,588 gallons of milk, 1,920 quart containers and 2,040 cups of yogurt, and 2,370 eight ounce packages of butter.
The farms of HV Fresh provided 54,638 pounds of milk, and Ronnybrook Farm Dairy brought 15,650 pounds of milk, yogurt and butter to the table. The dairies graciously offering their products to the program at cost, allowing for the most donations possible.
“Scenic Hudson is delighted to partner with the Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corporation’s FeedHV program by helping to provide locally produced food to youth programs in Kingston, Poughkeepsie and Hudson while simultaneously supporting those farm families supplying the fresh food,” said Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan. “Conserving Hudson Valley farms has long been a vital part of Scenic Hudson’s mission. We also are committed to ensuring all valley residents, particularly those facing the greatest hardships in our cities, benefit from our work. This collaboration helps to accomplish both during these tumultuous times.”
The success of the program now has HVADC and its dedicated network of collaborating organizations excited to find ways to grow the effort and even expand it beyond milk. FeedHV, Dutchess Outreach and others have been working for years improve the distribution pipeline between local farms and communities in need, through aid organizations, schools and institutions. Many stake holders now strongly believe the programmatic success of the dairy donation initiative has gotten the ball rolling and is a strong case study to show potential funders the viability of the expansion of this model.
Chief among those looking to scale this farm to community pipeline is Dutchess Outreach Director of Development Sarah Salem. Salem also facilitates The Hudson Valley Food Systems Coalition (HVFSC), a new forward-thinking initiative, which brings together professionals from across every sector of the Hudson Valley’s food system, to share ideas, identify issues and build solutions. HVADC Deputy Director Mary Ann Johnson is a coalition member and facilitator of the Land & Farm Interest Group.
Salem believes a relatively modest (ideally governmental) investment in the acquisition and upgrade of transportation and storage infrastructure, could grow a general food system improvement program exponentially. It would also pay a lot of farms fairly for excess product, create new jobs, and feed those in need with healthy high quality, local food.
On the heals of the success of FeedHV’s dairy donation program, the HVFSC is now coordinating a new round table to evaluate other regional projects and resources that can be expanded to handle and manage the growth of this shared ambition.
“We are so grateful to Scenic Hudson for sponsoring this project but looking to the future, because there are so many moving parts, receiving government funding would be ideal,” said Salem. “Forging new relationships is the key and part of the aim, along with feeding the food insecure, is getting farm fresh food directly into institutions like schools and hospitals.”
Part of the struggle in reaching and providing for those affected by limited food access is that there is a sense of loss of dignity in asking for help. That feeling is amplified when the food received through food aid programs is overly processed, picked over and nearing expiration. Through initiatives like the dairy donation program, HVADC and its regional partners can work to remove these barriers by providing better, healthier, fresher product to everyone regardless of income and status. Everyone is entitled to there share of the Hudson Valley’s bounty.
For more information about FeedHV, visit www.feedhv.org.