Some state funds are helping to expand a program that brings fresh produce to people who need it.
The CHOW Fresh Mobile Markets bring low cost or free fruits and vegetables to people with mobility issues, such as the seniors at the Harry L Drive Apartments in Johnson City, and to “food deserts” – neighborhoods that lack a full-service grocery store like the Northside of Binghamton.
CHOW purchases some of the produce and sells it at a slight mark-up.
Anything it receives for free it passes along at no cost.
“People are so grateful. I think one of the best parts of my job and a lot of the people that I work with, is seeing the reaction of the folks who are able to come and have access to produce that they wouldn’t normally be able to either access or afford,” said CHOW Program Manager Jack Seman.
The Broome County Health Department secured a grant from the state’s Creating Healthy Schools and Communities program.
It will help CHOW send its produce van to more locations in Binghamton, Johnson City, Harpursville and Deposit.
Health Department Deputy Director Mary McFadden says proper nutrition helps to ward off obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
“We really try to rely on what’s existing in our community that could be sustained, enhanced and expanded by these grant funds. So, that when the funds go away, the partners are able to sustain these great efforts,” she said.
Already in its first 3 years, the CHOW Fresh Mobile Markets have grown to 30 year-round sites with another 20 more in the summer.
Proceeds from the sale of produce helps to fund CHOW’s efforts to feed children during the summer.