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Gov. Hochul, Sen. Gillibrand help pack Thanksgiving meals in Latham

Governor Kathy Hochul and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand were at the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York Tuesday afternoon to help pack holiday meals.

Hochul and Gillibrand met with volunteers at the Latham facility, the Democrats later teaming up to pack squash for Thanksgiving meals.

Nick Pisani is The Food Bank's Chief Operating Officer. He says the warehouse services hungry individuals and families across a 23-county territory from the Canadian border to just north of New York City, and the days leading up to Thanksgiving have been especially busy.

“As you can imagine, everybody's kind of gearing up for there's a lot a lot more meals that are kind of prepped, bigger, a little more expansive, just like you and I might have in our home," Pasani said. "So do our soup kitchens, food pantries, they'll do the same. So they're gearing up for that. And this is really like, our peak week was last week going into this week, helping families that need be able to have you know, a nice meal as well.”

Pisani says on an annual basis, the warehouse moves roughly 50 million pounds of food.

“You can talk about the food bank, but until you see what 70,000-square foot facility with the amount of food that we move, it really just kind of speaks volumes to it,” said Pasani.

Hochul, fresh off a victory over Republican challenger Lee Zeldin, told reporters she's focused on strengthening the Democratic Party after what many saw as a lackluster midterm in New York.

“I am the leader of the state party, that would be me," Hochul said. "And so I'm embracing this opportunity to be able to show that New York State can be a place where we support candidates, we raise the resources, we make sure that our messaging is consistent, and to elevate people who want to be part of a shared vision that I have, which is to take New York state forward and to espouse these values. So I will be working closely with all parties. I’ve have had many conversations. And I look forward to bringing everybody together. Got some other priorities right now this second, and one of them is working on the budget and the challenges that lie before us. But simultaneously, I've already spoken to many leaders about what we do in the off year, so to speak. In my mind there is no off year, because this is when we build up the team. This is when we have a chance to rebuild our party, as well as recruit outstanding candidates from every community, whether it's it's blue, purple, or red. I want to find the next talent pool to rise up and be that next generation of leaders.”

Hochul previewed her plans for 2023, saying her agenda focuses on empowerment for women and people of color. And she was asked if the close election results has her rethinking the issue of crime.

“I don't have to change my stance on crime one bit," said Hochul. "I've been focused on crime since last April 24th. And regardless of whether or not that's the proper characterization, and millions and millions of dollars of independent dollars spent against us, the fact remains is that we've been focused on crime. Public safety has been and will continue to be my number one priority. That's clear from every press event I've done since we addressed this in the subways last January. So I'm focused on this, but that focus is not new. It has been consistent.”

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.