Image source: NY Daily News
The NY Daily News reports that the residents of the Queensbridge Houses, one of the largest public housing developments in North America, will have better access to fresh, local produce, thanks to the efforts of GrowNYC and local City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer. For just $10, residents can purchase a bag full of fruits and vegetables. The program will start this coming week, and pickups (every Wednesday from 3pm-6pm) will take place in front of the centrally located Jacob Riis Neighborhood Settlement House. The Queensbridge Houses development is a place where “diabetes rates are high and junk food is cheap and plentiful,” so the hope is that providing easier access to fresh foods like this could help people make healthier eating choices.
So how can a full bag of fresh fruits and veggies be so inexpensive? The only requirement is that residents must sign up a week in advance for their bags – this way the farmers who are providing the produce know exactly how much to deliver. And even those on public assistance can pay for the produce with their EBT cards. This program is reminiscent of a CSA (which are extremely popular programs in Queens and the rest of NYC), though payments at Queensbridge will be collected on a weekly basis instead of a seasonal basis, as is the case with most CSAs, providing more flexibility in the program. Not to mention there is less chance for waste, which is a common occurrence with seasonal CSAs.
Right now, bags contain a variety of seasonal produce, including corn, tomatoes, green beans, peaches, and plums. GrowNYC wants to show people how to cook these foods (some vegetables can be somewhat mysterious to even the most advanced cook), so they are hopeful to bring cooking classes to the residents in the near future.