Healthy food should be available to everyone, but especially to elderly New Yorkers. As an elected official, I’ve made increasing access to quality, affordable, and locally-grown food a priority. My Fresh Food for Seniors program, a version of which I launched in 2012 as a City Council Member, delivers discounted bags of local fruits and veggies—sourced from local farms via GrowNYC’s Greenmarket Co. food hub—to senior centers and apartment buildings across Manhattan. The process is simple: seniors pay for a bag a week in advance at a participating site, and pick up their produce the following week.
The program started small, but has grown significantly. This past season was our best ever: we delivered close to 5,500 bags, worth more than $44,000, to seniors on the Upper West Side, in Hell’s Kitchen, the West Village, Chelsea, Roosevelt Island, and Northern Manhattan.
And people are thrilled with the program. In a participant survey, we found:
- 96.7% of participants said they would definitely order again next year
- 85.2% of participants ordered at least 4 times and 55.4% of participants ordered at least 8 times (out of a total of 10 deliveries)
- 82.8% of participants prepare food at home at least 4 times a week and 50% of participants prepare food every day
- 86.7% of participants said one or two people are eating the produce in the bag and 91% said the amount of produce provided is just right.
While many seniors are on fixed budgets and rely on cooking at home, they aren’t always able to get fresh produce at the supermarket. One survey respondent wrote, “This program has been very helpful at this time. I am having surgery on my knee and it is very difficult to get around. Shopping is difficult.” Another respondent wrote, “Produce is expensive in our neighborhood and I am thankful for the farm fresh fruits and vegetables I might not be able to access.”
We’re already looking forward to a record-breaking 2019 season and plan on expanding into more neighborhoods downtown and in Upper Manhattan. Thank you to all of our partners who help make this program a success: Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Council Member Helen Rosenthal, GrowNYC, Goddard Riverside, Hudson Guild and the Doe Fund!