Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand visited and volunteered at Island Harvest’s temporary warehouse in Bethpage, Long Island, NY. Island Harvest serves Long Islanders in need through its network of 400 community partners. During the event, Senator Gillibrand participated in an Island Harvest Family Meal Box Sorting Program, to help prepare and create more than 4,000 healthy food boxes to be distributed at a July 1st event at the Nassau Coliseum. Members of Team Rubicon and the Civil Air Patrol also participated.
“Food banks have been a critical lifeline for New Yorkers during the hunger crisis caused by COVID-19 and I’m so thankful for the work of Island Harvest and our community partners,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Food access networks have seen demand for help skyrocket during the pandemic and we need to support their fight to protect Americans from food shortages. Legislation, like theFood Bank Access to Farm Fresh Produce Act, would alleviate the strain on food banks and our food supply by cutting out middlemen to deliver fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables from farms to food banks on Long Island. These are challenging times, but groups like Island Harvest, Team Rubicon and Civil Air Patrol remind us that there is no challenge New Yorkers can’t overcome if we work together.”
“The pandemic has created an unprecedented need for supplemental food assistance, and many of the people we are serving each day have never asked for help before,” said Randi Shubin Dresner, President and CEO, Island Harvest Food Bank. “On behalf of Long Islanders who struggle with food-insecurity, we appreciate Senator Gillibrand’s support of our efforts in helping make sure that no one goes without something as basic as food.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated food insecurity on Long Island and pushed food pantries to their capacity. I thank Senator Gillibrand for fighting for federal funding to help support our food pantries,” said State Senator Jim Gaughran (D-North Shore).
“As Senator Gillibrand continues to fight for fresh food access and robust food assistance funding in Washington DC, my Administration is also committed to addressing the unprecedented surge in food insecurity on Long Island. As part of Nassau County’s $1M investment in the purchase and distribution of food supplies, Wednesday’s event will be the largest food distribution in New York State history. I want to thank our volunteers from Team Rubicon and the Civil Air Patrol for helping us pack and distribute 4,000 units of healthy food supplies for families in need,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.
During the COVID-19 crisis, more than 30 million Americans are currently jobless and many are struggling to put food on the table. According to Feeding America, nearly 100% of food banks reported an increase in demand for food assistance during the pandemic, with an average increase of 59%.
Senator Gillibrand previously introduced the Food Bank Access to Farm Fresh Produce Act to address disruptions in the food supply chain caused by the coronavirus pandemic and directly connect farms to food banks as they continue to serve the surge of jobless Americans. In April, Senators Gillibrand, Harris (D-CA) and Sanders (I-VT) introduced the Closing the Meal Gap Act of 2020 which would expand and strengthen Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for underserved communities; the bill is similar to changes that passed in the HEROES Act.