The Fort Greene & Farragut Fresh Pantry distributed 10,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to residents as the market celebrated its second anniversary.
“It grew overnight,” said Shaquana Boykin, program manager for healthy community initiatives at the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership.
The monthly market was first started in 2015 in response to a New York Times article that revealed a lack of supermarkets and fresh produce in the area for residents.
The Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership and City Harvest opened the market with sponsorship from Forest City New York and the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation.
Since then, the pantry has distributed a total of 250,000 pounds of fresh produce to residents. Boykin explained the pantry has grown along the way in terms of volunteers as well as the turnout, which increased from a hundred-registered residents to over a 1,000.
The distribution of these products has provided residents with a fresh and healthy option.
“They’re eating the right kinds of fruits and vegetables, so that’s making their health much better,” said Mary Andrews, president of the tenants association at Farragut Houses.
Andrews explained the market was beneficial for residents who have to travel long distances for food and deal with unaffordable prices.
“A lot of people depend on this,” she said.
Ruth Garcia, a volunteer and resident of Farragut Houses, explained residents only have a Fine Food Supermarket as a nearby option to shop.
However, she said the food was not as fresh as other supermarkets.
“The prices are also a little outrageous,” she said.
Johanna White, another volunteer, said the distance of other supermarkets was a factor affecting many residents, especially the elderly.
“A lot of people can’t leave the area to go out and get the best, so they make do,” she said.
White, who volunteered since the market’s early days, said residents felt grateful for the pantry and were always eager to learn healthy recipes through cooking demonstrations held at the event.
“I think this is something that should be going on in a lot of neighborhoods,” she said. “It’s needed and it’s appreciated.”
According to Andrews, a Wegmans grocery store is set to open in 2019 and will provide residents with a nearby alternative.
However, she said the pantry was financially beneficial for residents and should continue alongside the supermarket.
“This a great thing right here and we hope it lasts even when the store pops up,” she said.