We all know it's hard maintaining a diet of fresh and nutritious foods, even in New York City. Finding fresh fruits and vegetables can be challenging and cost a fortune.
Now, imagine if you didn’t know where your next meal was coming from.
The lack of affordable and nutritious food in underserved communities across New York City would shock most residents. These areas are called food deserts, meaning fresh fruits and vegetables are hard to find because of availability, affordability, distance, or limited places to shop in certain neighborhoods. New York Cares believes that providing everyone with the opportunity to feed themselves with healthy and nutritious food is fundamental, and we're doing something about it.
This past March, as a part of a grant from a New York state program called the Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF), New York Cares created the Farm-to-Pantry Initiative (F2P), connecting food assistance agencies with New York City's most dynamic urban farmers and mobilizing volunteers to staff the operation. F2P’s three main goals are 1) to promote access to and demand for local fresh produce, 2) foster a relationship between NYC community members and their food source; and 3) transform the urban landscape by revitalizing blighted properties with community farms supported by New York Cares, their partners, and local residents.
F2P in Action
New York Cares has now established partnerships with both urban farms (who grow a variety of fresh, organic produce) and pantries based in neighborhoods that have limited access to full-service grocery stores or fresh food retailers. Our current F2P farms and pantries serve the neighborhoods of East New York, Flatbush, and Brownsville in Brooklyn; Wards Island and Harlem in Manhattan; and Clifton in Staten Island.
New York Cares volunteers contribute their services to the farm partners, helping maintain farm operations, building new garden beds, weeding existing beds, planting this year’s crops, and harvesting the food shares destined for the pantries. When the food arrives at the pantry partners, volunteers will be there to assist in the pantry operations as well, distributing food to local community members, stocking shelves, and cleaning up after hours.
We have begun work at five urban farms and have connections at four food pantries in special need of better produce and healthier food staples.
New York Cares volunteers will have the opportunity not only to cultivate green spaces in their communities and learn from expert urban farmers but also to distribute the nutritious vegetables they grow directly to those most in need. Interested in volunteering? Click here to sign up for F2P projects.
Is your farm or pantry interested in participating? Reach out directly to Avi.Nocella@newyorkcares.org