Reveals solutions for food desert issues in Rockaway
The Wave | on March 10, 2023
The Campaign Against Hunger hosted their partners in both government and community-based colleagues from Rockaway at the Beach Dunes Eats & Arts Cafe on Feb. 24 for their annual Legislative Luncheon.
The luncheon, sponsored by Queens Defenders, was a reveal of New York City’s Food Policy Center report conducted by Hunter College and an update on TCAH community engagements which celebrates its 25th year of service to struggling New Yorkers.
Dr. Melony Samuels, CEO and Founder of the organization guided the study’s key findings, acknowledging that there are a total of 47 locations that sell food in Rockaway (not including “bagel stores”, or grassroots farmer’s markets).
Of the 47 locations cited in the report, and upon further field study, only nine retailers classify as selling high nutrient-dense food which includes an assortment of produce – fresh fruit, and dark leafy green vegetables.
Twenty-six Rockaway retailers classify as delis that sell prepared food, and sell some fresh but do not sell dark leafy green vegetables.
While considered technical “food sources”, twelve locations sell only shelf-stable highly processed or pre-packaged foods, and no fresh fruits or vegetables.
The findings of this report also indicate that there are no retailers within the community of Broad Channel that sell dark leafy vegetables. In order for Broad Channel residents to purchase fresh foods, they must travel to either Rockaway or Howard Beach or have food delivered.
Dr. Samuels then unveiled plans for future bioenergy programs that will reduce food waste through composting and recycling along with future urban farm updates.
“We look to convert organic waste material into renewable natural gas and probiotic plant food, generate renewable energy into heat, hot water, light, electricity, and vehicle fuel”, said Dr. Samuels.
For urban farming, TCAH will collaborate with L+M Development Partners and will be utilizing an off-grid one-acre farm in Arverne East to expand healthy food access and workforce skills training for local Far Rockaway youth. A state-of-the-art K-12 campus located at Floyd Bennett Field will also develop a 3.5-acre urban farm beginning this spring.
Keynote speaker Assemblymember Khaleel M. Anderson announced his historic investments of $250,000 toward TCAH’S cutting-edge greenhouse project, the Far Rockaway Farm. By using the latest agricultural technology in hydroponics and aquaponics systems, TCAH will strengthen food production, aggregation, and distribution, and address food insecurity for all Rockaway residents.
Subsequent to the unveiling of plans, the executive board has put in place emergency food programming to meet the fresh food needs of Broad Channel. TCAH will be surveying the community for their input on inventory to roll out their “Fresh Vibes” fresh food truck to sell produce directly to residents at a much-reduced price. If the program proves successful, the non-profit is prepared to expand Broad Channel as part of its online Cyber Pantry program – which delivers food directly to the home. BC residents are encouraged to complete the online survey by clicking here https://bit.ly/41tckN0