Dec 13, 2021NYS Food Hub will improve access to healthy foods, support farmers
New York state announced Dec. 10 the “topping off” ceremony of the New York State Regional Food Hub in the Hunts Point neighborhood of the Bronx, where the final beam of the 60,000-square-foot, $40 million cold-storage facility was put in place.
The New York State Regional Food Hub is a joint State and City project that, when complete, will strengthen the local food economy, support New York farmers, and improve access to healthy and affordable foods for low-income communities. Empire State Development supported the Hub with an investment of $15 million through the New York City Regional Economic Development Council in Round VI.
“The New York State Regional Food Hub is a first-of-its-kind project that will support New York’s farmers by bringing fresh fruits and vegetables to markets in New York City to ensure increased access to food for our underserved communities,” Lieutenant Gov. Brian Benjamin said in a news release. “The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how invaluable our New York producers and the local food supply are and investing in this state-of-the-art facility will strengthen our food system now and for the future.”
Benjamin joined the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, Empire State Development, GrowNYC, the New York City Economic Development Corporation, New York State Senator Alessandra Biaggi, and Councilman Rafael Salamanca, Jr. today to tour the progress of the new food hub and celebrate the placement of the final beam, signaling a major step toward completion of the project. Governor Hochul visited the site for the official start of construction and groundbreaking in March 2021. The project is expected to be completed in early summer 2022.
The Hub, which is a result of the NYS-NYC Regional Food Hubs Task Force, will dramatically expand GrowNYC’s wholesale distribution capacity, making fresh, local foods accessible to underserved New Yorkers through wholesale buyers, including institutions and restaurants, and through innovative partnerships with nonprofit organizations.
The facility will also mean the creation of new jobs while supporting New York State farmers by providing expanded capacity and access, particularly for small-and mid-sized farms, to New York City’s wholesale marketplace. The processing facility will also assist upstate producers and processors in targeting institutional and private sector procurement opportunities.
The Hub is anticipated to increase GrowNYC’s wholesale distribution from 5.4 million pounds of fresh produce in 2020 to an estimated 20 million pounds and help GrowNYC respond to the growing need of emergency food assistance. The number of families who were food insecure in New York City grew from 1.4 million residents to approximately 2 million during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Hope Knight said, “Empire State Development is proud to have been an early supporter of the New York State Regional Food Hub with an investment of $15 million. The Hub will not only address food insecurity in the region, but support food manufacturing that will be a boost for New York State farmers, create good-paying local jobs, and promote equitable and healthier communities.”
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “The New York State Regional Food Hub is an awesome example of all that can be accomplished when we all work together, and I want to thank all the partners involved in bringing the Food Hub to this point. I was pleased to be at the groundbreaking ceremony this past spring and am happy to be back here in the Bronx now, several months later, to celebrate this incredible project with the final beam placement. The Food Hub will be a gamechanger for our farmers bringing product to market and to our families who will have greater access to quality New York grown fruits and vegetables.”
NYCEDC President and CEO Rachel Loeb said, “Every New Yorker in every neighborhood should have access to fresh affordable produce, and we are proud to help bring this new facility to life in Hunts Point. The Regional Food Hub will be an important link from the farms upstate to our corner groceries, supermarkets, and restaurants, sustaining our local food chain and creating healthy communities. We have been thrilled to work with the State, elected officials, GrowNYC, and other partners to celebrate this major milestone.”
GrowNYC President and CEO Marcel Van Ooyen said, “We are thrilled to mark this moment in the construction of the New York State Regional Food Hub. This project would not be possible without tremendous help from the State and City and our other supporters, including Bank of America, who believe in both the value of regional agriculture and GrowNYC’s mission to provide fresh, healthy food to all New Yorkers. And now we look forward to the ribbon cutting to see this dream fully realized, substantially increasing our ability to benefit local farmers and underserved New Yorkers.”
New York State Senator Alessandra Biaggi said, “The New York State Regional Food Hub is an amazing initiative, allowing us to provide Bronxites with access to fresh produce while supporting our local farmers and economy. I hope that we can continue to invest in such initiatives in the Bronx and throughout our state to ensure that all New Yorkers, regardless of zip code, have access to the fresh, healthy produce that they deserve.”
New York State Assembly Member Amanda Septimo said, “The 84th Assembly District welcomes the New York State Regional Food Hub, connecting more New York produce to New Yorkers. New York producers and South Bronx distributors feed New York City. Supporting those systems, addressing food access and growing local businesses, is investment in critical infrastructure.”
New York City Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs Winston Fisher, Partner at Fisher Brothers, and Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, CUNY Chancellor, said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the realities of food insecurity. The NYCREDC is proud to support the New York State Regional Food Hub, which will create the necessary network to address food insecurity by providing fresh food to local communities and supporting local farmers.”
The project has received funding from a number of partners, including $15 million from Empire State Development, the New York City Economic Development Corporation, New York City Council, U.S. Economic Development Administration, Bank of America, and others.
The New York State-New York City Regional Food Hubs Task Force was charged with developing a roadmap to build a Regional Food Hub System to enhance the connection between upstate food producers and the downstate market, increase access to fresh food for underserved populations, boost in-state food production and consumption, and create new job opportunities in the growing sector of food manufacturing. It placed a high priority on a regional food hub as part of its final action plan.