QUEENS, N.Y. — The Nourish New York program just got a boost from Gov. Kathy Hochul. She signed a law permanently codifying the program into law at an event in Queens Saturday afternoon. 

The initiative gets surplus food from farms to people who are struggling with food insecurity. 

The partnership also helps food banks get nutritious options for people and supports farmers whose business was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In the first three rounds of this program, food banks have purchased about 35 million pounds of food, Hochul said, for more than 29 million meals. 

In the fourth round of the program, food banks have purchased just under 7 million pounds of food, for an additional 5.72 million meals for households in need.

Hochul says this has helped more than 4,000 businesses. She also says signing this bill is especially important as Thanksgiving approaches and many families continue to struggle to get food on the table.

"The COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented hardship to so many New Yorkers and made the situations for those already struggling even worse," Hochul said in a statement. "The implementation of the Nourish NY program was a huge success in helping those facing food insecurity while also benefiting New York's farms. As we get ready to celebrate the holidays, I am proud to sign this legislation to ensure our state will continue to combat hunger and provide for those in need."

"Nourish NY served as a critical pipeline getting food from our farms to people in need during the pandemic, especially when there were serious disruptions in the supply chain," New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher said in a statement. "Today's action by Gov. Hochul makes the program a permanent fixture in New York State. Nourish NY will continue to assist farmers with the costs of harvesting, packaging, and transporting fruits, vegetables, dairy products and more while making sure all New Yorkers can put food on their tables. It is important that we continue to work together to strengthen New York agriculture and our local food system, so we have the ability to feed ourselves long after the pandemic subsides."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched the initiative at the end of April 2020, which helped food banks purchase excess food from farmers. Since its launch in May 2020, $85 million has been committed to the program.

More information on the program can be found here.