Empire State turns to local agricultural products
It has replaced several out-of-state products on its menu and spent more than $1.8 million to purchase New York State-grown and produced food and beverages such as apples, potatoes, beans, yogurt, ice cream and milk.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the Buy NY initiative in 2014 to help state and local governments increase the purchase of local agriculture products in government-run institutions such as hospitals, colleges, prisons and other facilities.
The program is a collaborative effort by the State Department of Agriculture and Markets, DOCCS, Office of Mental Health, Department of Health, Office of General Services and Cornell Cooperative Extension.
By working in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture and Markets, OGS and Cornell Cooperative Extension, DOCCS has been able to further the Governor’s initiative and maintain the low cost to taxpayers of feeding the inmate population.
In 2015, several menu items and ingredients were changed to promote the use of New York products.
Diced potatoes are now grown and processed in New York. Approximate annual usage is 451,437 pounds at a cost of $139,950.
Vanilla yogurt produced in New York State was added to the menu. Annual usage is 1,800,000 cups at a cost of $450,000.
A Jamaican beef patty processed in New York was added to the menu. Estimated annual usage is 20,950 patties at a cost of $576,125.
A New York produced ice cream was added to the menu for two holiday meals. Usage is 110,000 cups of pumpkin ice cream at a cost of $27,500.
New York frozen diced apple replaced an Argentina dehydrated product used in making apple crisp. Annual usage is 230,000 pounds at a cost of $137,190.
New York State powdered milk replaced an out-of-state produced brand. Usage is 12,000 pounds annually at a cost of $13,200.
Dry beans from New York replaced frozen beans from Canada. Annual usage is 352,000 pounds at a cost of $210,500.
New York State kosher grape juice was added to the menu. Annual usage is 26,400 gallons at a cost of $283,800.
It costs DOCCS an average of $2.84 to feed an inmate three meals per day using the Cook-Chill process. Cook-Chill involves chilling food products immediately after their preparation to ensure freshness, then shipping the products in large, sealed plastic bags for easy reheating. ■