Posted on June 29, 2017
By Melissa Olson RD, Nutrition Director
Have you ever tasted a tomato so perfectly ripe it was as sweet and juicy as a summer peach? Wonder what the heck is a kohlrabi or broccoli rabe? Participants in the Community Healthcare Network (CHN) Weekly Farm Share Program are learning first-hand the answers to these questions.
CHN, a network of 11 health centers, two school-based health centers, and two mobile medical vans in four boroughs of NYC, has partnered with Corbin Hill Food Project to bring 22 weeks of farm-fresh vegetables and fruits to the patients, staff, and community members in two of their Brooklyn health centers. This program provides an opportunity for people to see how eating healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, are essential for good health. It will also teach the importance of eating food that is grown locally and in its growing season, for the best taste and flavor.
For many participants, a farm share program is a life-changing experience.
Particularly the program’s motivating effect to cook more at home. “We like when we open our fridge and see the different colors. We are trying new recipes, saving money, and it has encouraged us to eat healthy!” says Christina Fullmore.
Currently, there are 74 participants signed up at the Williamsburg and Crown Heights clinics. Rachel Larkey, a nutritionist at the Williamsburg clinic, says, “Since starting the weekly vegetable box program, patients have been coming to my office excited about trying new vegetables and getting creative in the kitchen. One of my patients came in with her son and told me that because of last week’s share, he tried a radish for the first time and loved it! The vegetables are making it easy for her and her family to get involved in meal planning, cooking, and eating healthfully”.
The program also changes the way people shop for their meals. Generally, people plan meals around a protein such as chicken or fish, but with the Farm Share program, individuals begin to plan around what vegetables need to be used up in the fridge, thus making vegetables the highlight of the meal. After 22 weeks of receiving a weekly bag full of vegetables and fruit, participants become used to always having fresh produce on hand. They are more likely to translate that habit into weekly grocery shopping even after the program comes to an end in November.
How the program works: Participants sign up for a $15 vegetable “share” on the Corbin Hill Food Project website using a debit, credit, or EBT card: csa.farmigo.com/join/corbinhillfoodproject
Participants come to a weekly appointed pick-up time at the clinic and fill their grocery bag with vegetables that are in season that week. This past week the share included kale, green beans, fresh basil, tomatoes, cucumbers, and apples. A previous week included collard greens, radishes, fresh corn, dried black beans, and blueberries. Additionally, recipes for preparing the vegetables are included in the pick-up, as well as a monthly cooking demonstration done onsite by Corbin Hill.
New participants for the weekly farm share program are still welcome to join throughout the season. Use the link above to sign up at the closest farm share program site near you, or call Melissa Olson, Director of Nutrition, at 212-545-6221 or [email protected] for more information.
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