New Island Harvest program fights food insecurity, help farmers on Long Island

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Wednesday, August 17, 2022
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The Island Harvest Food Bank and Stop & Shop are partnering on a community supported agriculture program to combat food insecurity on Long Island. Stacey Sager has the story.

BRENTWOOD, Long Island (WABC) -- The Island Harvest Food Bank and Stop & Shop are partnering on a community supported agriculture program to combat food insecurity on Long Island.

Thanks to a $60,000 grant from the supermarket chain, Island Harvest is introducing an innovative program to support the distribution of healthy produce to those in need while at the same time assisting local farmers who have been impacted by rising costs, supply chain issues and labor shortages.

"We've heard from a number of them, literally with tears in their eyes, had it not been for the funds Island Harvest was using to purchase food this year, some of those farmers feel that they would've been out of business," Island Harvest President and CEO Randi Shubin Dresner said.

Through the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, Island Harvest will purchase locally grown produce and, in turn, distribute it to families struggling to put food on their tables through "CSA Shares."

"There is a definitive link between health and food insecurity," Shubin Dresner said. "Food insecure people often face chronic health issues that include diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and other conditions, and the newly created CSA program, thanks to our longtime partner Stop & Shop, allows us to expand our distribution of healthier food options, while providing some relief for our local farmers."

Needy families and individuals will receive four to six rotating produce items based on seasonal availability and would pick up their produce at a location in their community every other week for 20 weeks.

At the end of the program, recipients will receive a $50 Stop & Shop gift card.

In addition, Island Harvest's registered dietician will provide guidance on how to prepare fresh vegetables, interpreting nutrition labels, and shopping for healthy food on a budget.

"Stop & Shop is honored to work with Island Harvest Food Bank to create the Community Supported Agriculture program, which will provide Long Island families with fresh fruits and vegetables," company spokesperson Stefanie Shuman said. "Stop & Shop customers turn to us for high-quality, local produce to feed their families, and we're proud to enable Island Harvest to provide the same nutritious items to Long Island families in need of assistance."

The CSA program will support approximately 180 families in Brentwood and Central Islip.

Information about the initiative can be obtained at the Brentwood Public Library at 631-273-7883, the Central Islip Library at 631-234-9333, and Island Harvest at 631-873-4775.

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