LEP’s Grantee Partner GrowNYC Secures $20 Million from New York State
Local Economies Project (LEP) and GrowNYC are celebrating the latest achievement in their efforts to support Hudson Valley farmers. In early August, Governor Cuomo’s office announced $20 million in state funding toward the creation of a brand-new food hub in the Bronx. The new food hub, the culmination of years of collaboration between GrowNYC, the state and the city of New York, and lead funders like LEP, is an acknowledgement by state officials of the importance of providing a distribution center that would allow Hudson Valley farmers to access the New York City market.
Bob Dandrew, the director of LEP, says that GrowNYC is at the vanguard of connecting Hudson Valley farmers to the people of NYC, making them a natural partner for LEP. LEP was quick to recognize the importance of this partnership, and has been supporting GrowNYC with $100,000 in annual funding since 2011. It was thanks in part to this support that GrowNYC was able to begin a distribution program out of the City Harvest warehouse in Long Island City, the predecessor to the new food hub; the organization spearheaded a fundraising drive among foundations that matched government funding, allowing GrowNYC to establish a temporary food hub within the warehouse.
For decades, institutional purchasers like city schools, colleges, and hospitals have purchased food from traditional distributors that source from outside the region, shutting out local farmers from what is essentially their backyard. However, the original warehouse and distribution program met with almost instant success. It grew so rapidly that it garnered the attention of Albany legislators, who recognized the role that such a food hub can play in the regional economy and issued the $20 million grant that will help it expand to a larger, permanent location in the Bronx. The new food hub will build upon the success of the pilot program and provide an inroad for farmers, “opening up a major source of revenue for Hudson Valley farmers,” as Dandrew explains. He adds that the food hub, “could ultimately contribute to the success and longevity of farming in the region.”
Governor Cuomo announced the grant in early August as part of the New York Grown & Certified Program, thereby providing GrowNYC the needed support to expand access to healthy food for New Yorkers, as well as new markets for the region’s farmers. “By connecting Upstate farmers to new markets with a state-of-the-art food hub and promoting the consumption of healthy and environmentally conscious food, these initiatives will have extraordinary environmental, nutritional, and economic benefits for all New Yorkers,” Cuomo says.
Apart from the 95 permanent jobs the facility will generate, the 120,000-square-foot facility will also provide infrastructure such as a cold-storage facility and a food processing center, along with a farmers market on the premises, to offer significant business opportunities to Hudson Valley farmers.