Fresh food (151020)

In communities throughout New York City, access to affordable, nutritious food has been scarce, with residents stuck having to walk far out of their way to find quality, healthy fruits and vegetables.

In Cypress Hills and East New York, that’s going to change.

The Brooklyn borough president’s office, Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, East New York Diagnostic and Treatment Center, Local Initiatives Support Corporation and the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund have joined forces to open a new farmers market in Cypress Hills in an effort to improve the health and well-being of the Brooklyn neighborhood.

The Pitkin Verde Farmers Market, opening today at HHC East New York Diagnostic and Treatment Center, offers affordable, regionally grown vegetables and fruits and will help promote a healthier lifestyle among East New York families. It will be open every Tuesday through Nov. 24, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Various payment options are in place to help residents take advantage of the fresh produce, and shoppers will be able to take advantage of SNAP (formerly known as food stamps), Health Bucks, Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program and Women, Infants and Children coupons.

“We are proud to partner with local residents and community leaders to establish the Pitkin Verde Farmers Market,” said Michelle Neugebauer, executive director of the organization. “For the past five years, the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation has been working to expand access to healthy food in Cypress Hills and East New York, educating residents about healthier food options and supporting small businesses, grocery stores and restaurants to provide these options,” she said.

In Cypress Hills, finding affordable, healthy food choices can be a challenge. About 36 percent of the community’s 49,223 residents live more than a 10-minute walk from a produce store, and nearly 35 percent live in poverty. A staggering 48 percent of its children live in poverty.

The partners are also creating a joint educational program to directly address the connection between healthy eating and healthy living, tackling diabetes, obesity and other chronic health conditions that are often pervasive in disadvantaged communities.

Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation will conduct on-site cooking and nutrition demonstrations and distribute Health Bucks to individuals who participate. They will also provide healthy recipes and eating tips and highlight how eating fruits and vegetables can help ward off or control the symptoms of obesity and chronic disease.

The farmers market will also offer employment opportunities to residents, including positions for a farmers market manager, youth employees to operate and run the market and community chefs. Farmers from Staten Island will supply the produce.

“We’ve already seen an impact on residents looking for and wanting to cook more with fresh foods: vegetables, grains and fruits and an increasing openness of small businesses to try out new fresher produce. The new Pitkin Verde Farmers Market is another step forward in our pursuit of making Cypress Hills and East New York a greener and healthier place to live and work,” Neugebauer said.

In addition, physicians from HHC East New York Diagnostic and Treatment Center, a division of New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation and Gotham Health, will write “prescriptions” for families to eat more fruit and vegetables. Patients then receive Health Bucks that can be used at farmers markets throughout the city. HHC East New York Diagnostic and Treatment Center is one of 12 HHC sites through New York City offering farmers markets this season. The community served by HHC East New York Diagnostic and Treatment Center receives full spectrum, patient-centered primary and preventive health services for children and adults.

“At East New York Diagnostic and Treatment Center, we strive to find opportunities to help our community obtain the resources they need for healthier lifestyle changes,” said Mari Millet, associate executive director of the East New York Diagnostic and Treatment Center. “The integration of access to healthy food choices and health education is an example of how HHC and ENYDTC is helping our patients and the communities we serve throughout New York City, make the connection to healthy eating, overall health and better chronic disease management.”

The market is a part of LISC NYC’s Communities for Healthy Food NYC, a $1.6 million, place-based initiative funded by the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund to address the issues of diet-related diseases, poverty and unemployment. Communities for Healthy Food integrates access to healthy and affordable food into every aspect of comprehensive community development work in four neighborhoods across the city, including Cypress Hills and Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, Mt. Eden in the Bronx and West Harlem.

“The opening of the new Pitkin Verde Farmers Market represents an important step in increasing access to healthy, affordable food in Cypress Hills and East New York,” said Rick Luftglass, executive director of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund. “Through our support of LISC NYC, we hope to ensure that this community not only has increased access to nutritious food, but also economic opportunities and services that combat health disparities.”

Sam Marks, LISC NYC’s executive director, agreed. “Ready access to affordable, fresh foods has often been a tremendous barrier to underserved communities throughout New York, and working with our partners will help us overcome those barriers,” he said. “This unique connection between the farmers market and the health clinic means we can expand access to affordable, nutritious food and to primary care services in an area where people struggle to find both. That’s a critical piece of our work to help address the root causes of poor health from affordable housing to quality schools, access to primary care, good jobs and safe places to exercise.”

CHLDC is a community development organization serving the community of Cypress Hills and East New York, a low-to-moderate income neighborhood with a large immigrant population. Local residents and merchants founded CHLDC in 1983 to improve their community. Today, we serve over 9,000 residents each year through a wide array of programs. With community residents leading the way, the mission of CHLDC is to build a strong, sustainable Cypress Hills and East New York, where youth and adults achieve educational and economic success, secure affordable housing and develop leadership skills to transform their lives and community. For more information, visit

East New York Diagnostic and Treatment Center is a state-of-the-art health care facility, providing quality primary care, encompassing specialties and sub-specialties, meeting the needs of the communities we serve while improving health disparities across East New York, Brownsville and Crown Heights. It is our goal to be the “medical home” for East New York, Brownsville and Crown Heights. We are the leading delivery care model for ambulatory and urgent care, primary and specialty services. We accomplish this by focusing our energy and resources on strengthening operations and providing high quality, low cost patient-centered care while exceeding customer service expectations in a way that fosters strong relationships with our patients and staff. It is our belief that a model for true patient care addresses the “whole being” in all aspects of health—social, physical, emotional and intellectual with pride, passion and purpose. For more information, visit