May 14, 2020 - Healthy Food for All Provides Fresh Produce to Rural Areas of Tompkins County with Help of Joint Community Funding

May 14, 2020
Elizabeth Viviana Karabinakis - Healthy Food For All, Director
Brandi Remington - UWTC, Communications & Engagement Manager
George P. Ferrari, Jr. - Community Foundation of Tompkins County, CEO
Healthy Food for All Provides Fresh Produce to Rural Areas of Tompkins County with Help of Joint Community Funding 
Ithaca, NY – Healthy Food for All, a non-profit program of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County in partnership with local farms, will provide over 600 boxes of fresh locally grown produce throughout Tompkins County during the month of May to people in need. Approximately a third of the boxes will also contain locally produced eggs, beans, grains and nuts for homebound, high-risk and food-insecure elders, individuals, and families to provide essential micro and macro nutrients required for a healthy diet. 
The funds needed to deliver 605 boxes throughout the month of May were made possible by a recent $12,057 grant from Community Foundation of Tompkins County and United Way of Tompkins County. This grant represents the fourth time that United Way and Community Foundation have recently come together to jointly fund a needed community project. Both grants were made possible thanks to donors to each organization’s COVID-19 funds.
As we enter the ninth week of New York State’s PAUSE order, access to fresh produce is limited for many. Rural families throughout Tompkins County, like many throughout the region, are struggling with unexpected changes to their household income, making it difficult to afford food, especially the high cost of fruits and vegetables. In addition, people living in rural areas are also facing challenges around accessibility due in part to limited public transportation services during the pandemic, leaving many supermarkets, food pantries, and community agencies out of reach. While there are sources of free shelf-stable food boxes available, procurement, preparation and perishability make it infeasible to include fresh fruits or vegetables in most meals. One resident who recently received a box from Healthy Food For All reported, “I am currently unable to leave my home due to disability and I can't afford to order food delivery from the grocery store. My neighbor offered to go shopping for me, but she is a senior and I don't want to put her at risk. I haven't had any fresh food for weeks. This helped me so much.”
The project is also made possible with the generous support of PressBay Food Transfer Hub, Regional Access and Friendship Donations Network. Home deliveries of these “produce and pantry” boxes is made possible with the help of volunteers, including drivers from B&B Flooring in Dryden. 
Liz Karabinakis, Director of Healthy Food for All, however, is concerned about what happens next. “The reality is that we need more funding to continue this project.
People need to eat more than once a month and we already have 200 households requesting boxes of fresh produce next week.” Karabinakis underscores that additional support is needed as more people request assistance. “I’ve seen firsthand the tremendous impact our deliveries of fresh produce are having in people’s lives.”
Gifts to both the United Way and Community Foundations COVID-19 funds are also being accepted. Donors can give through the United Way of Tompkins County online at and select “COVID-19 relief,” or by calling (607) 500-GIVE, and through the Community Foundation at by writing in “COVID-19 Response Fund” under "Fund Name” or by calling (607) 272-9333.