Helping domestic abuse victims through nutrition

Island Harvest Food Bank opens new pantry


Island Harvest Food Bank, in conjunction with Stop & Shop, cut the ribbon on Monday at the Healthy Harvest Pantry in Bethpage, a new facility that will offer healthy food choices to victims of domestic abuse.

Randi Shubin Dresner, president and CEO of Island Harvest Food Bank and an East Meadow resident, announced that the hunger-relief organization would provide supplemental food to The Safe Center LI, a Bethpage-based nonprofit that offers support to victims of abuse. Stop & Shop stocked the pantry shelves with 6,000 pounds of food as well as personal and household items. The new pantry — at Island Harvest’s Bethpage location — will be managed by in-house dieticians who will ensure that food items are low in sodium and sugar and contain whole grains.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence estimates that nearly 20 people per minute in the U.S. are physically abused by their partners, and that one in three women, and one in four men, have been victims of some form of abuse. The World Health Organization’s Department of Reproductive Health and Research detailed the problems women experience with their pregnancies — including nutritional deficiency — as a result of physical and mental abuse by an intimate partner in a 2013 study, “Prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence.”

“The Healthy Harvest Pantry is designed to promote healthy eating choices,” Dresner said in a statement. “Our team of dieticians has carefully selected items that provide healthy options for people on a limited budget, or who are battling chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2017 National Diabetes Statistics Report estimates that more than 2 million adults in New York have diabetes, and another 500,000 have the disease but don’t know it. Feeding America, an anti-hunger organization that provides food for families across the U.S. through a network of pantries, found in a 2014 study that 21 percent of Long Island households served by food banks reported at least one member with diabetes — and that 66 percent of food-insecure families had to choose between food and medical care.

“The Safe Center is pleased to be a part of this collaborative effort with Island Harvest,” Cynthia Scott, the organization’s executive director, said in a statement. “[We are] grateful for their efforts in establishing the pantry which will enhance the lives of the families we serve by providing them easy access to healthy meals. We are also grateful for the support Stop & Shop is providing to this program.”

“Stop & Shop is proud of our longstanding support of hunger relief efforts on Long Island with Island Harvest Food Bank,” Steve Kienzle, senior vice president of Stop & Shop, said in a statement. “The new Healthy Harvest Pantry is special in that it will promote healthy eating and education to its initial clients from The Safe Center.”

The pantry will offer workshops on healthy eating and help eligible families apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. (Feeding America estimates that 72 percent of households not currently enrolled in SNAP may be eligible for it.) The pantry will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. For more information, call the Bethpage location, at (516) 294-8528.