Partner Tom Garry and other members of the Harris Beach Long Island team helped launch a unique project today aimed to helping curb the prevalence of hunger in the community and provide meaningful work opportunities for developmentally disabled and others.
Tom joined representatives of Catholic Health, one of the largest health systems on Long Island and a Harris Beach client, and Smile Farms, a Long Island non-profit, as well as colleagues, elected officials and community stakeholders, to cut the ribbon on a new community garden.
The first Smile Farms Cooperative Garden at Catholic Health Mercy Outpatient Behavioral Health Center sponsored by Harris Beach, PLLC will grow and donate produce to food-insecure community members who receive Catholic Health services.
Harris Beach Long Island donated $15,000 to create the garden. It will be operated by Smile Farms, and tended to by patients in the patients in Catholic Health’s Personalized Recovery Oriented Services (PROS) Program, which supports older adults diagnosed with a mental illness.
The cooperative garden is part of a broader Catholic Health initiative aimed at addressing food insecurity as a contributing factor to the prevalence of chronic disease, which is a major driver of health care costs. Catholic Health, under the leadership of President and CEO Patrick O’Shaughnessy, is seeking to widen access to healthy foods to drive improved health outcomes.
In addition to food distribution, Catholic Health is connecting food-insecure individuals to resources such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP.) Through a separate initiative that Harris Beach also contributed to, Catholic Health is distributing emergency food “to-go” bags at six emergency departments and other parts of the system.
The new Smile Farms Cooperative Garden is located in the courtyard of the Mercy Hospital Behavioral Health Services Outpatient Facility, located at 506 Stewart Avenue in the appropriately named Garden City, New York. It will produce lettuce, eggplant, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, garlic, string beans, carrots, squash, perennials and herbs with other items possible.
“The creation of this new cooperative garden reflects the spirit of the community of Long Island. When we see a problem, we come together to identify solutions and rally to make them happen,” Tom said. “Our team on Long Island has enthusiastically supported this garden, including providing volunteer labor to help build and plant it. We are grateful to be part of such an important initiative.”
“The garden is a continuation of our efforts to help those who need better access to healthy, nutritious food,” said Dr. Patrick M. O’Shaughnessy, President and CEO of Catholic Health. “As food insecurity continues to increase on Long Island in the wake of rising food prices and inflation, we are committed to expanding our efforts in this area.”
It is the 12th campus for Smile Farms, a Long Island non-profit formed by Jim McCann, founder of 1-800-Flowers, to provide fulfilling work opportunities and other support for those who are developmentally disabled, while growing and distributing healthy food for the community.
“Smile Farms is privileged to partner with Catholic Health and Harris Beach to create expanded opportunities for people with disabilities to give back to their communities,” said Diana Martin of Smile Farms. “Our 12th campus is our first exclusively dedicated to growing produce for donation, and our first serving those with mental health diagnoses. This new garden and its innovative programming synergizes our commitment to empowering those who have traditionally been disempowered and our emphasis on providing healthy and delicious food to the wider community.”