Queens elected officials joined the The Campaign Against Hunger and L+M Development Partners for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the nonprofit’s first-ever cafe, Beach Dunes Eats and Arts Cafe, in Edgemere on Monday, April 25.
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and Assembly members Stacey Pheffer Amato and Khaleel Anderson joined officials at the cafe, located at 45-15 Rockaway Beach Blvd., on the ground floor of an affordable housing development called Beach Green Dunes II.
The cafe serves healthy meals, household items and locally grown produce at affordable prices, while also offering a job training program. All profits go toward supporting the campaign’s anti-hunger initiatives both in Far Rockaway and the city.
Dr. Melony Samuels, CEO and founder of The Campaign Against Hunger, said a five-day farmers market is much needed in the community and will ensure access to fresh, locally grown foods.
“Beach Dunes Eats and Arts Cafe will address food insecurity within the community; offer opportunities for disadvantaged youth to learn and earn; and provide families a welcoming space where they can bond and talk over an affordable, nutritious meal,” Samuels said.
The cafe is part of the organization’s investment in food and health equity in the Rockaways, according to Samuels.
In a community where the median annual household income is as low as $30,000, compared to $70,000 in Queens, the cafe is designed to bring affordable, heart-healthy food options to a community with limited access to nutritious food and economic opportunities that advance equity. The cafe fills an important gap between food pantries and expensive supermarkets, accepting food stamps and enabling residents to shop for healthy food with dignity.
Beach Dunes Cafe sells affordable prepared foods and fresh produce grown at The Campaign Against Hunger’s nearby Far Rockaway Farm.
Each week, the community can look forward to a new $5 lunch special, which includes a main dish with vegetable sides, as well as a full seasonal menu. The cafe also offers an immersive culinary arts job training program to equip local residents with the skills they need to work in the food industry, including training in a number of food production, food safety and food business practices.
Sara Levenson, senior director of L+M Development Partners, said the cafe is designed to meet the needs of the community it serves — from the affordable, healthy produce to the job training program.
“Innovative projects like this take vision and hard work, and we are grateful to Borough President Richards and The Campaign Against Hunger for partnering with us on this. We look forward to enjoying lunches, locally grown produce and other items from Beach Dunes Eats & Arts Cafe for years to come,” Levenson said.
According to Richards, Far Rockaway is quickly becoming a leader in urban agriculture thanks to the farm-to-table Beach Dunes Eats and Arts Cafe and its partnership with the Far Rock Farm, where many of the restaurant’s ingredients are grown.
“From the innovative new café and its culinary arts job training program for local residents to the revolutionary geothermal technology used to power the building, Beach Green Dunes II is a model of responsible development for the rest of the city to follow. Today’s ribbon-cutting is nothing short of a tremendous step forward in the revitalization of the Rockaway Peninsula,” Richards said.
Amato congratulated The Campaign Against Hunger on the opening of its new cafe, saying it’s a “crucial step in addressing food inequity on the Rockaway peninsula.”
Congratulations to The Campaign Against Hunger on their opening of the Beach Dunes Eats and Arts cafe! This wonderful cafe is a crucial step in addressing food inequity on our Peninsula. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/MMGP6jsIYp
— Stacey Pheffer Amato (@Stacey23AD) April 25, 2022
The Beach Dunes Eats and Arts Cafe is open Tuesday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is available for dine-in, takeout and delivery. The space includes a cafe, a large-scale kitchen, seating and a farmers market with fresh produce from TCAH’s nearby urban farm.