From Albany: Food Banks to Benefit From Price-Gouging Case

Food banks will be the beneficiaries after New York Attorney General Letitia James  secured 1.2 million eggs in a settlement involving price gouging.

She signed an agreement with Hillandale Farms Corporation, ending an August 2020 lawsuit  on charges of  illegally gouging the prices of eggs in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.

The lawsuit alleged that Hillandale, a company based in Ohio and Pennsylvania, began raising prices in March 2020, as the pandemic grew to emergency levels. From January 2020 to early March 2020, Hillandale charged Western Beef Supermarket prices ranging from $0.59 to $1.10 for a dozen large white eggs. On March 15, 2020, Hillandale raised that price to $1.49. As the pandemic progressed, Hillandale raised the prices it charged Western Beef repeatedly, eventually reaching $2.93 per dozen — almost five times the price Hillandale initially charged in January.

Under the agreement, Hillandale will refrain from any further excessive pricing of eggs and will donate 1.2 million eggs — or 100,000 cartons — to food banks  throughout the state. The food banks will distribute the eggs to thousands of food pantries, soup kitchens, and homeless shelters dedicated to providing food for New Yorkers in times of need.

“Long Island Cares, The Harry Chapin Regional Food Bank applauds the leadership of New York Attorney General Tish James in helping to secure the donation of fresh eggs to food banks as we continue to respond to the emergency food needs of our neighbors across the state, including on Long Island, where more than 267,000 people turned to Long Island Cares for the very first time since March of 2020,” said Paule Pachter, CEO, Long Island Cares. “We were both excited and honored that Tish James visited Long Island Cares to support us in our efforts as we continue to respond to a 58 percent increase in food insecurity on Long Island brought about by COVID-19.”

The agreement resolves claims against all six Hillandale Farms companies in the lawsuit, including Hillandale Farms Corp.; Hillandale Farms East, Inc.; Hillandale Farms of PA, Inc.; Hillandale Farms Conn, LLC; Hillandale Farms of Delaware, Inc.; and Hillandale-Gettysburg, L.P. In addition to ensuring Hillandale ends the gouging of egg prices, the company has committed to donating 1.2 million eggs to food banks across New York State.

“Attorney General James’ vigilance on behalf of New York’s consumers to hold companies responsible for price gouging during the pandemic is appreciated,” said Randi Shubin Dresner, president & CEO, Island Harvest Food Bank. “Securing a donation of eggs to New York’s network of food banks as part of the settlement is a just outcome. We thank Attorney General James for supplying wholesome, nutritious eggs to New Yorkers struggling with food insecurity and applaud her and her staff for their efforts on behalf of the most vulnerable among us.”

Rent Relief Funds

Assemblyman Keith Brown, R,C,I- Northport, wants state officials to release $1.3 billion in federal funding aimed at helping tenants and landlords to recover from economic hardships because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

New York State approved $1.3 billion in December intended to provide economic  relief and prevent individuals from being faced with eviction or foreclosure. 

The state has been given a deadline of Sept. 30  to distribute the $1.3 billion in relief funding. 

Student Loan Battle

James and 23 other state attorneys general, Thursday urged the U.S. Department of Education to cancel federal student loan debt of defrauded ITT Technical Institute (ITT Tech) students.

The now defunct for-profit school lured students with deceptive claims about the value of an ITT degree and empty promises of high-paying jobs after graduation. In September, several states and a federal regulator reached agreement on canceling private loans.

The coalition of attorneys general today submitted an application to the Department of Education for federal loan discharges for students who attended ITT Tech between 2007 and 2010, when these deceptive tactics were used to convince students to attend the school and borrow federal student aid.

Federal law permits the Department of Education to forgive federal student loans when borrowers were deceived in obtaining loans. The attorneys general are demanding full relief for ITT students, including refunds of the money students already paid on those loans.

ITT shut down in 2016 and filed for bankruptcy.

 

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