Ogdensburg COs to be reassigned

The Ogdensburg Correctional Facility is one of six State prisons slated to be closed in March. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

OGDENSBURG — State Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, has a solution to feed under-served populations downstate, and it includes keeping Ogdensburg Correctional Facility open.

In a letter to Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul on Friday, Sen. Ritchie highlighted OCF’s garden program that provides upward of 40,000 pounds of fresh produce annually to local people in need.

If the prison was to expand its offerings, instead of closing in March as proposed by the state in an announcement made earlier this month, it could help positively impact access to healthy and affordable food options in the New York City area where it’s estimated 1.6 million individuals experience food insecurity, according to Sen. Ritchie.

“OCF staff has indicated that the potential exists to triple the size of their garden, which in turn, could result in 120,000 pounds of fresh produce during the growing season,” Sen. Ritchie wrote. “In recent years, I have talked with my Senate colleagues — including Senator Leroy Comrie, who is cc’d on this letter — about the need to better connect parts of New York City with the fresh, healthy produce grown in more rural areas of our state. Tripling the size of the garden at OCF, increasing the amount of produce grown there and transporting a portion of it to underserved neighborhoods downstate would be the perfect solution to this longstanding problem.”

Sen. Ritchie stated that OCF’s garden helps meet a need locally and benefits those who are incarcerated.

“As staff at the facility will tell you, those who are incarcerated find fulfillment in being part of the garden program, where they work alongside OCF employees to not just grow fresh produce, but also make a difference in the local community,” Sen. Ritchie wrote. “Many of those incarcerated at OCF are from downstate. Involving more of them in the garden program and then in turn, sending the produce to the New York City area would provide them with the opportunity to help the communities where they are from.”

“Keeping Ogdensburg Correctional Facility open, expanding the size of the garden and transporting fresh produce grown to areas where food insecurity is prevalent would result in a win-win situation for the North Country, as well as for downstate,” she concluded.

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(2) comments

HotelMike

The number one industry in NYS, prisons..

elderberry

I don't think food insecurity happens because the country is short of food. But kudos to our State Senator for thinking outside the box.

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