Assemblyman Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay Lake) held a press conference today to discuss the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farmers to Families Food Boxes program and its failure to meet the needs of North Country families. Assemblyman Jones was joined by representatives from organizations such as JCEO, the United Way of the Adirondack Region, Inc, Clinton County Social Services, Plattsburgh Housing Authority, Senior Citizens Action Council, and volunteers from both Franklin and Clinton Counties.
“The idea behind the federal Farmers to Families Food Boxes program is an important one that has strong legs to stand on,” said Jones. “That being said, the execution we’ve seen from this program has failed to prioritize many of the regions that need this assistance the most. North Country farmers are suffering from financial losses during this pandemic while families are struggling to put a healthy meal on the table each night. North Country organizations worked hard with Glaziers Packing Company to distribute these boxes to those who need it most, but the North Country was shortchanged by the federal government. We need to do more to connect these pressing issues and ensure no one is left behind, which is why I’ll continue working hard to find solutions to deliver the resources needed to those who are struggling.”
As part of the federal Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), Farmers to Families Food Boxes aims to provide relief to farmers and producers whose supply chains have been hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as distribute fresh food to local food banks and other nonprofits that help those facing food insecurity.
While the program has been critical in helping families that are struggling to put a meal on the table, many New York regions, including the North Country, have been slighted in the selection process. This has left many local food pantries scrambling to find vendors and provide residents with the food assistance they need. In fact, the program awarded only 4% of funds to companies in the Northeast, making it all the more difficult for local food banks to secure food boxes and help residents during these trying times. 
Jones is working hard to address the shortcomings of this federal program and will continue fighting to ensure North Country families receive the help they need. He supports the Nourish New York Initiative and believes it could help fill the gaps left by the food box program while also supporting more local producers. The initiative allows New York’s emergency food providers to purchase surplus products from farmers and manufacturers and deliver it to families across the state.