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Health-Conscious Bed-Stuy Food Pantry to Feature Cooking Workshops

 The Golden Harvest Client Choice Food Pantry is a 2,500-square-foot facility opening in July.
A new healthy food pantry is opening in Bed-Stuy.
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BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — A new Brooklyn food pantry promises to teach Bed-Stuy residents how to live a healthy lifestyle.

The Golden Harvest Client Choice Food Pantry, created by the Northeast Brooklyn Housing Development Corporation, is a 2,500-square-foot facility opening in July designed to expand the group's existing pantry, while also providing new services like healthy cooking demonstrations.

"This is really about healthy foods," said C.E.O. Jeffrey Dunston. "This is an opportunity for us to not only introduce food products, but also to teach people to cook properly."

The pantry, at 376 Throop Ave., is the second food bank run by NEBHDCo. The group's other pantry is located around the block at 745 Lafayette Ave. and serves about 700 families.

The new, $450,000 pantry opens in July, and Dunston estimates that they will expand services to 2,400 families.

"The fact that we will be able to really offer more food product to the community is very important," Dunston said.

Partnered with City Harvest and operating on a client-choice model, the pantry will function much like a supermarket, with customers choosing the kinds of foods they want rather than taking ready-made packages of food.

Fresh fruits and vegetables will come from nearby community gardens that NEBHDCo has created. Walk-in freezers will allow for a wider variety of foods that can stay fresh for longer periods of time, Dunston said.

People looking for counseling will also benefit from a social services center partnered with the Coalition for the Improvement of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Dunston said.

"We needed to rethink how this pantry was going to function," Dunston said. "We wanted to do something very unique."

The demonstration kitchen is fitted with cables to attach cameras and televisions, so the room of potential students can better see the food preparation.

It will feature local chefs cooking not only healthy foods, but will also include healthy recipes that utilize certain foods popular in countries where locals may have emigrated from, said the organization's C.O.O. Lisa Boyd.

Ultimately, Boyd said, the room will act as a "community builder."

"We've got kids, and older folks and folks in the middle," Boyd said. "Folks come together around food."

The new building is just the latest property to that NEBHDCo has built near the corner of Lafayette and Throop, which includes their first pantry on Lafayette and groups of affordable housing for low-income residents. They've started development on a courtyard connecting each of the buildings, which they hope will continue to foster that sense of community.

The newest addition, Dunston said, emphasizes that commitment to community development.

"It represents our passion to serve the community, and provide a new access point for food and learning," Dunston said. "At the end of the day, it's our passion."