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Emergency food packages project awarded $225,000

(Photo provided)

Thanks to a grant, the Emergency Food Packages project will be able to continue to help Adirondack families in need.

AdkAction and partners have been awarded $225,000 to continue the project. With support from Adirondack Foundation, Mother Cabrini Health Foundation and the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth), the Emergency Food Packages Project will continue to provide healthy, locally grown food to low-income and vulnerable Adirondack residents as the pandemic continues to diminish food access.

AdkAction partnered with the Hub on the Hill to create Emergency Food Packages in late March. To date, more than 2,300 food packages — about 35,500 meals — have been delivered to local families in need with the help of 700 individual donors and Adirondack Foundation’s SUN Fund. Roughly 20 farms and 75 farm workers have been supported by this project, putting more than $100,000 into the local agricultural economy.

The new funding will nearly double these results, plus help AdkAction build a program to subsidize local food purchasing, bolster distribution capacity at Hub on the Hill, and enable procurement and supply chain logistics assistance from Essex Farm Institute at the Adirondack Council.

“Three factors that make our region especially vulnerable to health and economic threats — aging demographics, lack of resources like access to food, and distance to healthcare — have been heightened because of the pandemic,” said Cali Brooks, Adirondack Foundation President and CEO. “This innovative initiative brings together a variety of partners to deliver healthy food to people in need while also supporting local farms. We applaud this win-win strategy and are proud to join with other funders to help support it.”

A worker delivers an emergency food package to an Adirondack family. (Provided photo — Ben Stechschulte)

In addition to applying to the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation for COVID-19 response funds on behalf of AdkAction and its partners for this project, Adirondack Foundation matched the grant funds dollar-for-dollar.

“As the largest healthcare foundation in New York State, it is a vital part of our mission to be on the front lines assisting during this pandemic,” said Alfred F. Kelly Jr., CEO of Visa and Chair of the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation Board. “We are working to get urgently needed funds across the state to organizations supporting New Yorkers most in need.”

His sentiments were echoed by David Sandman, Ph.D., President and CEO of NYSHealth.

“The communities that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 will require even more support and attention on the road to recovery,” said Sandman. “This innovative model not only responds to the immediate needs of food-insecure residents and New York farms but also champions a sustainable, affordable farm-fresh food delivery program for the North Country.”

AdkAction and the Hub on the Hill will create an additional 2,000 Emergency Food Packages to be delivered between now and Oct. 1, then transition to a model of making the food packages available for purchase from the Hub’s Mobile Market, allowing participants to buy the food packages at a steeply discounted price using SNAP and food incentives.

A worker delivers an emergency food package to the home of an Adirondack family. (Provided photo — Ben Stechschulte)

AdkAction also is piloting a new incentive program called “Fair Food Pricing” to further subsidize the cost of food packages. At the end of the day, SNAP users will be able to buy local food for up to 65% less than the retail price, but farmers will still receive 100% of their market value for the products. This next phase of the project hopes to create a reliable market for area farmers and a stable and affordable outlet for low-income and vulnerable Adirondack residents to purchase fresh food. The extended program will run until Dec. 31.

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