From left: Chloe Boutelle, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County Farm to School coordinator, and Rachel Bezner Kerr, professor of global development.

Task force fills food gaps for families

With families struggling to put food on the table during the pandemic, the Tompkins County COVID-19 Food Task Force hosted a free food pickup and delivery for more than 800 individuals, in 216 households, July 7 and 8.

The service aided families caught in a one-week gap between the end of a reduced and free school lunch distribution programs and the start of summer school food programs for the Ithaca City and Trumansburg school districts. Food donations also assisted the Newfield, Lansing, West Village and Northside communities, and farmworkers through the Cornell Farmworker Program.

Cornell impacting New York State

Task force workers distributed boxes of fresh produce that included cherries, carrots, cucumbers, garlic scapes, salad greens, lettuce and zucchini donated by local farms, Headwater Food Hub and Healthy Food for All, and boxes of shelf-stable food from the Food Bank of the Southern Tier and Friendship Donations Network.

“We’re in weekly communication with these different institutions and have been able to identify where there are gaps in need – by families and producers – and we’ve been able to respond,” said Rachel Bezner Kerr, professor of global development in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, who is one of seven core task force leaders. “And then because [the task force is] a network of institutions, we’ve been able to bring resources together to respond.”

Many local small farms and organizations provided food, coordination and delivery, including Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Cornell Farmworker Program. The task force is supported by the COVID-19 Response Fund of Community Foundation of Tompkins County, Cornell’s Office of Engaged Initiatives and donations.

– Krishna Ramanujan

Media Contact

Abby Butler