‘Essential’ market opens in Bethpage, aiming to reduce stigma of accessing food bank

On Monday, Long Island Cares opened a supermarket-style “boutique” of essential items in Bethpage aimed at reducing the stigma of going to a pantry.

“Essential Market” is located at 386 North Wantagh Ave. and has hallways full of non-perishable and perishable goods along with cooking demonstrations for people picking up food and premises available to organizations in Hempstead Town and Nassau County, officials said.

“The Essential Market is an opportunity for us to tell the public who is food insecure and needs support, that you do not have to be ashamed to seek help,” said Paule Pachter, CEO of Long Island Cares, at the opening.

The goods come from stores like Target and Costco as part of a retail rescue program to deliver food to the public.

The Bethpage location, which Long Island Cares calls a “boutique market”, is the seventh place on Long Island. An eighth place should open in Hauppauge in a few weeks, Pachter said.

Long Island Cares has opened several distribution centers since the coronavirus pandemic began in 2020.

Speaking at the opening, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said helping provide food to people in need has been a mission for the county since the pandemic began.

“I think something that the COVID pandemic really showed everyone is that we are just a step away, so many of our residents are just a step away from not being able to have a good meal of food, from not could feed their families, “Curran said.

Food security on the island has increased since the pandemic began. Island Harvest and Long Island Cares in 2020 saw demand increase by 72% and 83% from 2019.

Later this month, through a new state initiative, both food banks will share $ 1.6 million to buy restaurant meals to feed them in need and help local restaurants.

Helping people in need is “not a year or two of commitment,” said Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin.

“This should be a long-term commitment from all municipalities for residents with businesses and chambers of commerce to work with Long Island Cares,” Clavin said.

with Barry Sloan

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