Today, Catholic Health, Smile Farms, and Harris Beach came together to unveil a new cooperative garden that was created and designed to support the mental health community, while combating food insecurity on Long Island. The garden also will provide Catholic Health behavioral health patients with employment opportunities and a way to give back to their community.
The cooperative garden, which is part of Catholic Health’s overall food insecurity Initiative, is located at Catholic Health’s Mercy Hospital Outpatient Behavioral Health Clinic in Garden City.
Catholic Health President and CEO Patrick O’Shaughnessy, DO, MBA, Smile Farms Managing Director Diana Martin and Harris Beach Managing Partner Tom Garry were joined by colleagues, elected officials and community stakeholders for the ribbon cutting of the first Smile Farms Cooperative Garden, sponsored by Harris Beach, PLLC.
Smile Farms provides meaningful work opportunities for people with disabilities to grow, sell, and donate plants, produce, and products in the community. Sponsored by the Harris Beach PLLC law firm with a $15,000 donation, this garden will be tended by patients in the Personalized Recovery Oriented Services (PROS) Program who will receive job training and payment, provided by Smile Farms funding. The produce will be shared with food-insecure individuals at Mercy Hospital’s Family Care Center, a clinic for women and children, in Rockville Centre.
“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. “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.”
Catholic Health’s multifaceted food insecurity initiative currently offers emergency food “to-go” bags distributed in Catholic Health’s six emergency departments and throughout. Individuals who receive the bags are also provided with direct referrals to community-based organizations to identify resources, such as the Federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for regular access to healthy foods.
“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. “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.”
“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,” said Tom Garry. “My partners and I, along with our team on Long Island, are grateful to be part of such an important initiative toward reducing the amount of food insecurity in our region.”
To learn more about the partnership between Smile Farms and Catholic Heath, tune in to the Celebrations Chatter podcast to be released on Thursday, May 4 (available on Spotify or Apple Podcasts). Smile Farms and 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. Founder and Chairman Jim McCann, and Dr. Patrick O’Shaughnessy discuss the importance of addressing food insecurity, good nutrition, and giving back to community.
Learn more about Catholic Health’s behavioral health services.