ALBANY — Marking the start of the holiday season, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday urged people to donate money and canned goods, and said he was releasing extra funds for food banks and flood-ravaged areas across the state.
"New Yorkers should remember their fellow New Yorkers who are in need this Thanksgiving season," Cuomo said in a telephone conference outlining the initiative. "The demand on food banks is very, very high."
Eight regional food banks statewide will share $1 million in grants from the state's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Contingency Fund.
In the Capital Region, the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York will get $200,000.
Other recipients include food banks in Buffalo, Rochester, Elmira, Syracuse, Westchester, New York City and Long Island.
All told, the regional banks supply about 5,000 local food pantries across the state.
Additionally, Cuomo said $620,000 in food aid was going out to help communities that are still recovering from tropical storms Irene and Lee.
Those funds are also going to food banks in the Southern Tier, Orange County and in the Albany area.
Along with the state funding, Cuomo said he was launching Operation Help Your Neighbor, which encourages people to donate extra food. Businesses — including farms with excess supplies — have already stepped up, he said, and individuals are encouraged as well.
Among the items most in need are canned meats, kidney and pinto beans, peanut butter, canned vegetables, soup, pasta and personal care items like shampoo and soap.
Cuomo isn't the only member of his household with a special interest in the subject: His girlfriend Sandra Lee, the Food Network star, has been an advocate for food banks and pantries across New York and elsewhere. Lee visited the Capital Region's operation soon after Cuomo's inauguration.