LONG ISLAND, N.Y. — Island Harvest Food Bank, along with a group of volunteers from the international organic farm organization WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), corporate supporters, and anti-hunger advocates were on-hand at the food bank’s Brentwood farm recently to celebrate the food bank’s harvest of fresh, locally ground produce from the organizations’ two farms, Giving Gardens, Grow-a-Row Programs, and Giving-to-Excess Program that it operates across Nassau and Suffolk counties. In all, these initiatives are expected to yield an estimated 1.9 million pounds of fruits and vegetables, which supports approx. 1.6 million meals, to address the nutritional needs of more than 300,000 food-insecure Long Islanders.
International organic farm volunteers from Australia, France, Germany, Israel, Kenya, and the U.S. lent a hand this summer at the Brentwood farm, which encompasses 1.8 acres on the grounds of property 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. The Sisters of St. Joseph allow the food bank to utilize a portion of its 220-acre property at no charge. Island Harvest Food Bank’s other farm is on a parcel at Farmingdale State College. The food bank also has a partnership with Long Island’s commercial farmers that contribute an additional two million pounds of surplus produce to help address the issue of hunger and food insecurity on Long Island, making that initiative on of the largest farm-to-food bank programs in New York State.
According to a USDA study, there is a link between food insecurity and chronic health problems, and poverty that often exists because of the lack of access to affordable, healthy foods including fresh fruits and vegetables. Some of the health issues include diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and obesity. “Most often, assistance for people who are food insecure is short-term in nature and lacks fresh healthy food,” says Randi Shubin Dresner, president and CEO, Island Harvest Food Bank. “Promoting healthier eating habits through our nutrition education programs, and reducing nutritional deficiencies by offering healthier food choices will eventually lead to better health for people struggling with hunger and food insecurity.”
“Island Harvest Food Bank is at the vanguard of change in food banking by providing long-term solutions for food-insecure Long Islanders that includes getting more locally grown, nutritious fruits and vegetables to on the tables of our neighbors struggling with hunger,” added Douglas Nadjari, chairman of Island Harvest Food Bank’s board of directors. We could not put this good food on the table without the zeal and hard work of our volunteers from all corners of Long Island and now from around the world. We reap what they sow, and their labor brings a bountiful harvest to neighbors struggling with hunger.”
Supervised by a certified organic gardener, Island Harvest Food Bank’s Island-wide growing initiative includes basil, beans, blueberries, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, corn, cucumbers, eggplants, kohlrabi, okra, peppers, potatoes, pumpkins, radishes, rutabagas, squash, tomatillos, tomatoes, turnips, watermelon, and zucchini. In addition to the local, and international volunteers, the gardens are supported, in part, through the generosity of local companies that provide staff to volunteer at the farm or provide direct funding to support this important initiative. Among local companies supporting our farms and gardens include PSEG Long Island, Lessings. Deloitte, Cox Automotive, Ameriprise Financial, Richner Communications, and Northwell Health.
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 mission 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 can be found at www.islandharvest.org.
–Hunger and Food Insecurity on Long Island
Island Harvest Food Bank
For more articles out of New York, click here.