Owner expects to raise up to $7,000 a month for two Long Island hospitals
By Sara-Megan Walsh
A Fort Salonga business owner has found a way to put a positive spin on one of Suffolk’s newest mandated fees for the Huntington community.
Charlie Reichert, owner of IGA Fort Salonga Market, announced Jan. 25 that he will be donating all proceeds from the county’s new 5-cent fee for plastic bags to benefit Huntington Hospital and Eastern Long
Island Hospital in Greenport. He is calling for other business owners to do the same.
“It came to me when people were really complaining about the plastic bag, ‘Why are you charging a nickel? Why are you getting the money?’” Reichert said. “That gave me the idea, why don’t we give the money to charity.”
The new 5-cent fee, approved by the Suffolk County Legislature in September 2016, applies to the single-use plastic or paper bags provided by cashiers at the end of a sale and used to carry goods from the store.
Reichert who owns five IGA supermarkets in Bayville, Fort Salonga, Greenport, East Northport and Southold, said he’s already seen a 50 percent decrease in consumer use of single-use plastic bags since Jan. 1.
“It’s amazing how people are walking in with the reusable bags again,” the supermarket owner said. He noted his stores gave away 3,000 reusable bags in January.
Reichert said he expects the nickel surcharge to generate approximately $6,000 to $7,000 a month for charity.
Dr. Gerard Brogan, executive director of Huntington Hospital, said the funds will be used to help toward building and renovating the hospital’s facilities — most immediately, the hospital’s maternity ward.
“It’s kind of a double privilege for me as a doctor who works at Huntington Hospital,” said county Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport), who sponsored the initial legislation. “Huntington Hospital is a hospital I’ve called home, where I’ve worked for 20 years. Their mission is to improve the community. It’s a perfect match.”
Suffolk Legislator Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) said he has reached out to other stores in his district to discuss the initiative. Trotta said he’s gotten ShopRite locations in Hauppauge and Patchogue to support the cause, donating proceeds of the fee to Hauppauge-based Long Island Cares, specifically to benefit local veterans in need. He’s currently in conversations with several big-box retailers including Walmart, Target and CVS.
“I hope it spreads like wildfire,” Trotta said. “I think this has the potential to put millions of dollars in local Suffolk County charities.”
When asked if this charitable initiative would work well with the law’s original intent of reducing plastic waste in our environment, both Trotta and Spencer called the situation a “win-win.”
“If this fails, it means people aren’t purchasing plastic bags, which is a win,” Spencer said. “If there is a lot of money and it’s going to charity, it’s also a win.”
Editor’s note: This post was undated