Equal food access is a real challenge here in NYC, as people sometimes must walk a mile or further to find fresh produce of any kind. The Veggie Van program responds by bringing produce to the people in areas that are underserved. Where in use, this program is particularly helpful for elderly residents who might be less inclined to make a long trek for food shopping.
Currently, the vans drive to neighborhoods of Manhattan to distribute bags of fresh fruits and vegetables at $10 each. This price represents a significant discount from almost any grocery store or supermarket, especially considering that the bag contains enough produce for two people for a week. In addition, the food is locally grown and harvested from farms in the Bronx.
The vans have traveled to the Lower East Side, East Harlem, Inwood, Two Bridges, and Washington Heights and primarily reach elderly Manhattanites who have restricted physical and/or monetary access to healthy food options. Participants can buy the bags of fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables with cash, debit, or EBT/ SNAP benefits.
The Veggie Van program is funded by the office of the Manhattan Borough President, Scott Stringer. The idea was initially tested out in 2011, but insufficient funds caused it to fail. Mr. Stringer says that Hurricane Sandy “reminded us how vulnerable Lower Manhattan really is” and restarted the effort, this time enlisting the help of GrowNYC. Fresh, healthy, affordable food delivered to your neighborhood; now that’s a step, or a roll, in the right direction. For more information, visit http://www.grownyc.org or call 212.566.2729