Fifteen vendors will be able to offer fresh fruits and vegetables to the public this summer thanks to Teachers Federal Credit Union.
The $4.7 billion cooperative has partnered with the Long Island Growers Market to host a farmers market every Thursday through Aug. 29 at its headquarters parking lot in Hauppauge, N.Y.
In addition to offering fresh, locally grown produce, the farmers market will also feature baked goods, jams, jellies and other assorted products, according to TFCU.
“Farmers and the agricultural industry are an important part of Long Island's history; past and present,” said Robert Allen, president/CEO of TFCU, during a June 6 press event introducing the vendors to the Hauppauge community. “TFCU is locally grown, and we believe in the importance of investing in Long Island.”
The credit union said it was inspired to host the farmers market at its headquarters due to its proximity to Brentwood, an area identified by the federal government as one of Long Island’s “food deserts.”
A food desert is an area where residents do not have access to fresh produce and other healthy fare, according to TFCU. This is a particular concern during the summer months for children who rely on schools to serve healthy breakfasts and lunches, the credit union said.
“Without farmers markets, we would not be farming,” said Ethel Terry, founder and coordinator of Long Island Growers Market. “We only sell what we make, bake, grow and catch. It's important to us that our customers know where their food comes from.”
Suffolk County Legislator John M. Kennedy, Jr. (R-Nesconset), who attended the press event, thanked TFCU for having the forethought to provide this opportunity, and being mindful of those who need these goods.
“Suffolk County invests in the agricultural community to support our farmers so they yield bountiful crops and bring them to communities through markets such as this,” Kennedy said.
Sarah Eichberg, director of community research for Vital Signs and the Institute for Social Research and Community Engagement at Adelphi University, recently completed a two-year 152-page report focusing on Long Islanders affected by food insecurity.
“Farmers markets are integral to combating the prevalence of food deserts, which are one of Long Island's most immediate challenges,” Eichberg said. “High prices and the lack of access to fresh produce make it difficult for many to purchase healthy foods despite their desire to do so.”
The Hauppauge Industrial Association is also supporting the farmers market, said Terri Alessi-Miceli, president of the organization.
“The HIA is proud to support the efforts of farmers markets, and is working with TFCU to end the prevalence of food deserts in communities across Long Island,” Miceli said.