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.
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