The Island Harvest Food Bank is buying produce from Long Island farms — struggling with rising costs, supply-chain troubles and labor shortages — and helping both farmers, and needy Long Islanders who might otherwise go hungry, the charity said in a news release.
The program, which kicks off Wednesday with an event featuring the charity’s in-house dietitian, has enough funding for as many as 180 beneficiaries to sign up, Allison Puglia, the charity’s chief programs and network officer, said Tuesday by email.
Depending on availability from the farms and what’s being harvested at the time, the produce selections may vary, she said.
This week’s produce is from Lenny Bruno Farms in Manorville and Deer Run Farms in Brookhaven, and is to include Cubanelle peppers, Beefsteak tomatoes, carrots, celery, eggplant, green peppers, leeks, lettuce and kale.
“Each family visiting the program can pick the foods their family needs/wants based on availability,” Puglia wrote in the email.
The Manorville farm didn't return a message seeking comment; the Brookhaven farm couldn't be reached.
Island Harvest, founded in 1992, distributes fresh produce, meat and nonperishable food across the Island, among the programs that help thousands daily on Long Island, according to the charity's website.
Newsday reported last month that local farmers said higher costs for diesel fuel, fertilizer and animal feed had caused them to raise prices on food, dairy, fruits, vegetables and other products.
“It’s a difficult situation right now for farmers that are facing higher prices both in commodity inputs, as well as in financing, with limited ability to pass on those costs for buyers,” said Todd Schmit, a professor at Cornell University who focuses on agricultural economics.
Signups are through the food bank itself or at the public libraries in Brentwood and Central Islip, through the end of October, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The libraries are where the food is to be picked up.
As part of the program, beneficiaries are to receive four to six rotating types of produce “based on seasonal availability” and pick up the food every other week for 20 weeks, the release said.
Puglia said the farms are paid based on market prices that vary week to week; she didn’t give the cost of this week’s produce.
The supermarket chain Stop & Shop donated $60,000 for the program, and during its final week, each beneficiary is to get a $50 gift card to the supermarket that can be redeemed without restriction, she said.
The communities chosen for the program are based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s findings about who needs help most, Puglia said, and the program doesn’t require proof of eligibility.