Van Bramer Brings Farm Fresh Food To Queensbridge
Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer joined Marcel Van Ooyen, executive director of GrowNYC, Bill Newlin, executive director of the Jacob Riis Settlement House and local residents to launch the borough’s first affordable farm fresh food program in Queensbridge Houses.
In an effort to address the lack of access to healthy food options surrounding Queensbridge Houses, Van Bramer has allocated $10,000 to GrowNYC which will bring affordable, locally-grown, organic produce directly to the residents of Western Queens.
“Access to healthy food options can be difficult for some residents to access in Western Queens, especially seniors,” said Van Bramer. “By bringing fresh fruits and vegetables directly into a community that needs, and wants them, our initiative is able to address a real need here in Queensbridge.”
Some research has shown that large populations of residents who live in public housing developments throughout New York City suffer from obesity and diabetes. One factor that contributes to this problem is the lack of access to affordable, healthy, food options.
Produce is often available at area stores but at a higher price which many cannot afford on a regular basis. Many of these individuals cannot pay because their household budgets are stretched thin.
“The Queensbridge Food Box program is an innovative model that has enabled us to provide Queensbridge residents with a convenient source of fresh, locally-grown produce,” said Ooyen. “We are very grateful to Councilmember Van Bramer for his support of this important project.”
The program works similar to that of a Community-Supported Agriculture program (CSA) in which individuals pledge to support one or more local farms with a one-time payment which can be several hundred dollars for an entire agricultural growing season.
As opposed to a CSA, the bags of produce GrowNYC will be providing participants are at a fraction of the cost and are available at a one-time fee of $10 for each week they choose to participate in the program. Those who choose to participate also have the options of paying via electronic benefit transfers (EBT) and Food Stamps.
The produce bags will contain fruits and vegetables that are currently seasonal on regional farms, with contents changing from week to week.
In addition to the fresh produce, bags will also come with recipes, and nutritional materials to help participants prepare food at home. Currently, Van Bramer’s office and GrowNYC are developing nutritional workshops to further educate the public about cooking with produce they typically might not already have in their kitchens.
Currently the program works with an organic farm in Pennsylvania called Green Pasture Farms who is delivering pre-packed boxes of a few different varieties of produce that they grow. Other items are being added to give value to the box, such as corn and fruit that GrowNYC purchase from other regional farmers.