Wellness Wagon offers rides to grocery stores for Northside residents

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BINGHAMTON, NY – A transportation program is helping residents of a notorious food desert get to the store to do their shopping.

The Wellness Wagon offers rides to people living on Binghamton’s Northside 3 days per week.

The trips begin and end at the Lee Barta Center on Liberty Street and go to the Vestal Walmart on Mondays and Fridays and the Weis on Robinson Street on Wednesdays.

The program was launched by VINES in 2019 using buses but was initially interrupted by the pandemic.

It was brought back last November with limited capacity due to COVID safety protocols.

Program Assistant Jibreel Cooper says the temporary stoppage proved how valuable the service had become.

“It’s an entire program that we essentially had to stop which means its like an entire group of people that you’re not getting the same access to that we normally would in a normal year,” says Cooper.

Lisa McGowan and Gregory “Prince” Oliver live in the Town and Country Apartments.

They were getting a cab ride today from the Wellness Wagon to purchase food and other essentials at Walmart.

The program does provide door-to-door service to some residents with mobility issues including Oliver who has an artificial leg.

“Our stores around here you can see we really got nothing so to go out we have to travel so we need something to take us out there so when it comes towards us, you know what I’m saying, we appreciate that a lot,” says Oliver.

Oliver has been using the service for about two years now, and says he doesn’t know how else he’d get to the grocery store.

To find out if you’re eligible, go to vines gardens dot org or you can contact Jibreel Cooper at jibreel@vinesgardens.org.

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