By Connor Beach
The owner of two IGA markets in the Town of Huntington donated the proceeds from Suffolk’s 5-cent plastic bag fee – nearly $18,000 – to Huntington Hospital.
Charlie Reichert of Northport pledged last February he would donate to the hospital the money his IGA markets in Fort Salonga and East Northport brought in as a result of the county’s fee on single-use plastic bags. The two stores collected $17,810 in fees during 2018, according to hospital officials.
The county law requiring retailers to charge a nickel per plastic bag used by a customer was approved by the Suffolk Legislature in September 2016, and implemented at the start of last year.
Reichert said he came up with the idea to donate the fee after he heard customers complaining about having to pay a nickel for plastic bags, and that the money was just going back into the retailer’s pockets.
Reichert and his wife Helen have been major donors to Huntington Hospital, and the money from the plastic bag fee will go towards the newly opened Center for Mothers and Babies. The center provides 19 private rooms for mothers and their babies complete with sleeper sofas for a significant other, hospital officials said.
“Charles and his family’s generosity has helped Huntington Hospital to continue to provide cutting-edge medical care to the people of Suffolk County,” Huntington Hospital’s executive director Dr. Nick Fitterman said.
Officials from Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer’s office said they are still putting together a report with data on the impact of the bill, but preliminary information from the Food Industry Alliance of New York State indicates member stores saw an 80 percent reduction in plastic bag usage over the first three quarters of 2018.