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$2 million state program moves goods from farmers to food banks

Food banks in Western New York will receive more than $2 million from the state's special public health emergency fund this week as part of the $25 million statewide Nourish New York initiative.

The program will not only assist food banks, but will reroute agricultural products, such as fruit, vegetables and dairy, to people who need them, the state Department of Agriculture and Markets and the Department of Health announced Sunday. With schools and restaurants closed and no easy way to package perishable products for consumers, farmers have lost up to 50% of their markets. Across the country, some farmers have dumped milk and destroyed fresh vegetables.

The statement said that most of the money will be used to purchase milk, which will be sent to dairy cooperatives, including Cabot Cheese, Chobani and Upstate Niagara Cooperative, to be processed into cheese, yogurt and cream cheese.

Food banks may set up drive-thru distributions, provide vouchers that can be used in stores for dairy products or purchase products directly from farmers to be used in their meal programs.

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