Island Harvest celebrated the grand opening of its new Hauppauge warehouse on Monday with the help of the New York Mets.
Island Harvest hosted its official ribbon cutting ceremony for its new warehouse off Marcus Boulevard in Hauppauge Industrial Park on Tuesday morning. The event was attended hunger relief advocates, elected officials, corporate sponsors and several players from the New York Mets.
"We owe a huge debt of gratitude to all who helped make our new facility a reality and a special thank you to them for filling the plates of those who sometimes, sadly, don't have enough to eat," said Dave Widmer, co-chair of Island Harvest and president and general manager of Long Island Radio Group.
The new 18,616-square-foot food distribution center and warehouse is more than quadruples the nonprofit's other facility, a 2,600-square-foot warehouse in Uniondale provided by the Nassau Health Care Corporation. The Hauppauge center can store up to 1.2 million pounds of food, or approximately 29 tractor-trailer loads.
Randi Shubin Dresner, president and CEO of Island Harvest, said the additional space will help it more efficiently service its 570 member agencies, which include food pantries, soup kitchens and other feeding programs. It will also help Island Harvest expand its own programs, such as the Kids Weekend Backpack Feeding Program, which supplements meals for children dependent on school breakfasts and lunches on weekends.
"More space will allow us to expand the program to help make sure that children have enough to eat on weekend and during times when school is not in session," Dresner said.
Other programs hosted by Island Harvest include Operation:HOPE, a mobile food pantry that brings food to veterans, and its other mobile food pantry for seniors and the disabled.
New York Mets players Mike Baxter, Tim Brydak and Jeremy Hefner were on hand to help sort donated food and load it onto trucks. The New York Mets have a partnership with Island Harvest through its season-long food drive and hunger awareness campaign, "Feeding the Big Apple"
During each Mets home game, the New York Mets have a trailer parked outside to benefit Island Harvest, rotating with a New York City-based group, where attendees are encouraged to bring food donations that are brought to Island Harvest's warehouse.
Island Harvest's new Hauppauge facility also contained 4,893-square-feet of non-warehouse space that contains 12 offices and 23 work stations. There is also a community vegetable garden to help provide fresh produce to those the food center services.