Food / Government

Officials seek federal funding for food hub

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If GrowNYC gets its wish for federal funding, Hunts Point’s food hub would increase its capacity from 5,000 to 75,000 square feet of storage and office space.

The Greenmarket, which runs farmer’s market in Longwood and others around the city, could get an expanded distribution hub in the Hunts Point food markets, generating jobs and making fresh produce more accessible to Bronxites.

Elected officials sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Commerce last week to request federal funding to help Hunts Point’s regional food hub expand into a state-of-the art facility that would allow for up to 20 million pounds of fresh local produce to be stored and transported annually.

More importantly for local residents, supporters of the project say the expansion would provide Bronxites with easier access to fresh fruits and vegetables and will generate 95 permanent jobs.

Congressman José E. Serrano, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and a bipartisan coalition of members of the New York Congressional Delegation requested the funding on behalf of GrowNYC’s Greenmarket, which runs the food hub. GrowNYC was created in 1970 as a policy-based organization, tackling quality of life issues like air quality, traffic, and noise, but has since become a service organization that organizes the city’s many greenmarkets and helps build community gardens.

The Hunts Point food hub is the city’s only open-air wholesale farmers’ market, offering over 100 local and regional farm-fresh products including fruits, vegetables, herbs, plants, and flowers.

New York State has already pledged $15 million to the project, which calls for expansion into a 75,000 square-foot facility that would include 60,000 square feet of food storage and distribution space, cold storage units and processing space. The rest of the space would be used for offices and operational areas. Private sources have committed an additional $3 million.

In addition, a 45,000 square-foot lot would be converted into a wholesale farmers market.

Currently the food hub operates as a wholesale marketplace for small- and medium-sized food producers from seven states, including New York, out of a 5,000 square foot facility near the food distribution markets, moving three million pounds of food to restaurants, retailers, senior centers, nonprofits, and farmers markets.

Congressman Serrano said the project “would allow the Food Hub to expand its operations to help local farmers, provide families with access to healthy food, and bring permanent living wage jobs” to Hunts Point. Neighborhood advocates and area residents have often pointed out that although Hunts Point is home to the country’s biggest food distribution markets, fresh produce is hard to come by inside the neighborhood.

The food hub is located at 290 Halleck Street at the corner of Viele Avenue, a half-block from Food Center Drive, and is open Tuesdays-Saturdays, from Apr. 8- Dec. 31, between 2 and 8 a.m.

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