Fresh Food For Seniors, a program that connects seniors with local farmers and fresh regionally grown produce, will return to the Upper West Side for its tenth season next month. The program is sponsored by City Council member Gale Brewer in partnership with Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine.
The process is simple: To receive their fresh goods, seniors pay just $10 dollars per bag (which has a real value of $15 plus) at a participating site. The following week, they return to the site to pick up their bag of fresh fruits and vegetables. The program is not subscription-based, so customers can purchase a bag per week, or pick and choose the weeks they wish to participate.
Each bag contains around six different fruits and vegetables, along with a produce guide, information about how to store the produce and basic recipe tips. All of the produce comes from local farms in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Pick-ups are located at several locations around the Upper West Side, including the Goddard Riverside Older Adult Center, Project FIND Hamilton House, NCJW Council Lifetime Learning, Bloomingdale Aging in Place, and Lincoln House Outreach. The first pick-up date will be July 7th, and pick-ups will occur every other Thursday until November 10th.
A spokesperson from City Council Member Gale Brewer’s Office said they had first thought of the idea for the program when they began to hear from constituents that purchasing fresh produce, either from farmers markets or through CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Programs was too expensive.
“What we did hear consistently is that other options ... to get produce from local farms were either too expensive or too big in terms of the amount [of produce] they would get,” the spokesperson said.
All of the produce is ordered through GrowNYC, an organization which helps promote regional agriculture by providing local farmers with opportunities to sell their produce.
“Really one of the main goals is not only to be responsive to constituents wanting to connect and bridge the accessibility to local produce, but [City Council Member Brewer] also feels really strongly about the upstate and downstate connection,” the spokesperson added. “It’s also really great from an environmental perspective.”
In addition to the environmental, economic and health benefits, the spokesperson added they have heard from many of the centers that it has been a terrific social program. One of the exciting aspects of the program is the packing of the food itself, in which a team of volunteers help pack all of the bags and deliver them to the pick-up locations.
“The packing is not only exuberant and fun, but it’s intergenerational ... before the pandemic we had an 89-year-old and a 19-year-old packing together, and it was awesome,” the spokesperson said.
A full list of pick-up locations can be found below:
Goddard Riverside Older Adult Center, 593 Columbus Ave. at 88th St.
Project FIND Hamilton House (141 West 73rd St., 212-787-7710)
NCJW Council Lifetime Learning (241 West 72nd St., 212-687-5030)
Bloomingdale Aging in Place (212-842-8831)
Lincoln House Outreach (303 West 66th St., 212-875-8958)