BRENTWOOD, N.Y. — Island Harvest Food Bank was joined by local hunger-relief advocates, elected officials, and community leaders recently in celebrating a 1.8-acre parcel that will be used to grow fresh fruits and vegetables to help address the issue of nutrition and food insecurity in our local communities. The land, located on a 212-acre parcel in Brentwood, is owned by the Sisters of St. Joseph, a religious order dedicated to education, health care, social justice, spirituality, empowering women and girls, and environmental conservation.
“A strong relationship between food insecurity, chronic health problems and poverty often exists because of the lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables,” explains Randi Shubin Dresner, president & CEO, Island Harvest Food Bank. Among the health issues resulting from poor diets often cited by public health experts include diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and obesity. “Many strategies to help the hungry tend to be short-term solutions and those who rely on typical anti-hunger programs face a lack of fresh, healthy food resulting in poor dietary choices and nutritional deficiencies. “The concept of producing locally grown, nutritionally rich, fresh fruits and vegetables are key to providing long-term and sustainable food security for the people we serve.”
Attending the ribbon-cutting event with Island Harvest Food Bank leaders were New York State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, New York State Assemblyman Steven Englebright, Suffolk County Comptroller John M. Kennedy, Jr., and Suffolk County Legislators Tom Cilmi and Leslie Kennedy. Also attending were Ehle Shachter from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, representatives from the Sisters of St. Joseph, local hunger-relief advocates, and Island Harvest Food Bank volunteers who work at the Giving Garden. New York State Senator Phil Boyle and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone sent representatives to the event.
“We all know how important it is for everyone, especially our youth, to have access to fruits and vegetables and this new land for Island Harvest’s Giving Gardens program will help expand their ability to deliver healthy food to those in need. By cultivating this land, through the efforts of their dedicated volunteers, Island Harvest will help provide better choices to those they serve which will help many in our community. I applaud Randi and her team for the work they do every single day and wish them the greatest success,” stated Senator Flanagan.
Under the supervision of a certified organic gardener, Island Harvest Food Bank volunteers will cultivate crops that will include basil, beans, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, corn, cucumbers, eggplants, kohlrabi, okra, peppers, potatoes, pumpkins, radishes, rutabagas, squash, tomatillos, tomatoes, turnips, watermelon, and zucchini. In all, more than 4,000 pounds of produce will be grown and distributed to local food pantries, soups kitchens and other feeding programs serviced by Island Harvest Food Bank.
“The Sisters of St. Joseph are thrilled to partner with Island Harvest for this Giving Garden project,” said President of the Sisters of St. Joseph Sister Helen Kearney, CSJ. “This project is in perfect alignment with our ongoing commitment to both environmental sustainability and social justice so that the needs of all will be met.”
The Brentwood garden is consistent with Island Harvest Food Bank’s mission to bring healthier food to Long Island’s food insecure population. To date, the hunger-relief organization oversees approximately 40 “Giving Gardens” in Nassau and Suffolk counties that will yield nearly 60,000 pounds of produce this season. Island Harvest Food Bank’s partnership with Long Island’s farming community brings in nearly two million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetable each year, making it the largest farm-to-food bank program in New York State.
About Hunger and Food Insecurity on Long Island
Food insecurity is a state in which people do not get enough food on a consistent basis to provide the nutrients for active and healthy lives. It can result from the recurrent lack of access to food. More than 300,000 Long Islanders face the risk of hunger every day, according to Island Harvest Food Bank and Feeding America®, a national hunger-relief organization. People facing hunger include adults (often working two jobs), children, senior citizens, and veterans. Unable to make ends meet, they (and their children) are often forced to go without food. Approximately 70,000 individuals seek food assistance in Nassau and Suffolk counties each week through soup kitchens, food pantries and other feeding programs served by Island Harvest Food Bank.
About Island Harvest Food Bank
Island Harvest Food Bank is a leading hunger-relief organization that provides food and other resources to people in need. Always treating those it helps with dignity and respect, its goal is to end hunger and reduce food waste on Long Island through efficient food collection and distribution; enhanced hunger-awareness and nutrition-education programs; job training; and direct services targeted at children, senior citizens, veterans, and others at risk of food insecurity. As a result of Island Harvest Food Bank’s dynamic business model, more than 94 percent of expended resources go directly to programs and services that support more than 300,000 Long Islanders facing hunger. Island Harvest Food Bank is a lead agency in the region’s emergency response preparedness for food and product distribution and is a member of Feeding America®, the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief organization. For five consecutive years, Island Harvest Food Bank has earned a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, a leading independent charity watchdog organization. Island Harvest Food Bank is among just 9% of the organizations rated by Charity Navigator to merit the four-star designation. More information about Island Harvest Food Bank is at www.islandharvest.org.
About Sisters of St. Joseph
Located in Brentwood, NY, The Sisters of St. Joseph (CSJ) are the largest order of Catholic women religious on Long Island with more than 400 members, and have a 160-year tradition of ministering wherever they are needed including the Dioceses of Brooklyn and Rockville Centre, and the New York Archdioceses. United with all who minister with them, they seek to bring God’s healing and reconciling love to all through their work in education, health care, social justice, spirituality, empowering women and girls, and environmental conservation.
The motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Brentwood includes 212 acres of land, some still pristine, acquired more than 100 years ago within the bioregion of Long Island. The Sisters affirmed a Land Ethic Statement on March 21, 2015 and, in response to the statement, members of the congregation have formed new partnerships on Long Island, gathered information about the Long Island bioregion, implemented new initiatives, and continued current ecological projects. For more information about the Sisters, please visit www.brentwoodcsj.org.
–Island Harvest Food Bank
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