HUDSON — Turning an adversity for local small farmers into an opportunity to feed Hudson Valley neighbors in need, FeedHV has coordinated with Scenic Hudson to purchase frozen products from Hudson Harvest at a reduced cost to distribute to nine area agencies with food assistance programs.
Administered by Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corporation (HVADC), FeedHV is a regional food rescue and harvesting network operating throughout Dutchess, Orange, Ulster, Columbia, Greene, Putnam and Sullivan counties. It links donors of prepared, but unserved, food and fresh produce with nonprofits and food assistance programs. Through an app-assisted network of food donors, volunteers and feeding agencies, FeedHV facilitates the harvesting, processing and distribution of locally grown or produced agricultural products, shelf-stable food donations and prepared nutritious foods. Among the donors are restaurants, farms, food makers, stores, hospitals and universities. The food assistance programs include food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters.
When several area small farmers were notified in the fall of 2021 that their freezer storage facility in Columbia County would be closing, they began to seek out a new location, reached out to Hudson Harvest, and also to HVADC to find new cooling storage. HVADC coordinated the effort through FeedHV to enable Hudson Harvest to identify excess products in their freezers for distribution to food assistance agencies.
Based in Germantown, Hudson Harvest is a local food distributor supporting local food communities, making it easier for consumers to get access to local, sustainably grown, healthier food. The FeedHV purchase, made possible by a donation from Scenic Hudson, allowed Harvest Hudson to free up approximately 15 pallets of space in its freezer facility in Athens, making room for ten small farmers who were displaced by the closing of their prior facility. More than 4,550 pounds of locally produced frozen products — including turkey, goose, pork, salmon, beef, venison, lamb, baked goods, prepared rice, and vegetables and fruits — has been delivered to the receiving agencies.
“We are thrilled to help the many food pantries in need, as well as those farmers who were affected by the closing of their prior cold storage facility. Helping donate significant amounts of local food to our community pantries, while also providing cold storage space to those affected farmers was a win-win for all of us. Thankfully the teams at HVADC, Scenic Hudson and FeedHV coordinated a swift, multifaceted solution in just a few days, all in time for the holidays and winter season when our local supply chain is even more critical for those in need,” said Michael Waterman, CEO, Hudson Harvest.
The receiving agencies are in Beacon, Cairo, Catskill, Kingston, Poughkeepsie, Red Hook and West Park, and include Ascension Food Pantry, Catskill Community Center, the Center for Creative Education, Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie, Dutchess Outreach, Fareground, Prabhuji Food Distribution, Red Hook Responds and The Pantry at Dutchess Community College. Food distribution started just prior to Thanksgiving and was completed in December.
“Scenic Hudson was delighted to partner once again with the HVADC and FeedHV to get fresh, locally grown meats, vegetables, and fruits onto the tables of people most in need. It directly reflects the organization’s goals to provide support for the region’s family farms and ensure everyone benefits from its natural assets, including access to nutritious food. During the pandemic, food insecurity has increased dramatically. We hope this donation will help brighten the holidays for many families throughout the valley,” said Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan.
This was the third instance of HVADC facilitating coordination between FeedHV and Scenic Hudson, and at the same time helping Hudson Valley farms and food producers. In September, HVADC connected Scenic Hudson and FeedHV with Hudson Valley Fisheries (HVF) of Hudson, New York, to procure approximately 1,200 pounds of locally grown steelhead trout for distribution to six agencies with food assistance programs in Greene and Columbia counties. In August 2020, at the height of the pandemic and surplus challenges facing local dairy farmers, Scenic Hudson and FeedHV partnered to purchase milk, yogurt and butter from Hudson Valley Fresh and Ronnybrook Farm Dairy. Through that effort, nearly 75,000 pounds of dairy products were directed to community assistance organization focusing on feeding children in need in Dutchess, Ulster and Columbia counties.