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  • Andrea Strong

GrowNYC partners with City to Provide Free Emergency Fresh Food Boxes


The City of New York announced today that it has partnered with non-profit GrowNYC on an Emergency Fresh Food Box program, connecting upstate farmers with downstate need and providing those New Yorkers struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic with healthy food.


Part of the City's Feeding New York plan to put food into the hands of every New Yorker in need during the current crisis, the Emergency Fresh Food Box program will provide free boxes of farm fresh, nutrient dense, and culturally appropriate food to New Yorkers in some of the City's neighborhoods hit hardest by the pandemic.


Unemployment has increased dramatically, especially for workers who were formerly employed in service sectors, and the City estimates as many as 2 million New Yorkers may be facing food insecurity. In addition, more and more food outlets are closing, restricting hours, or reducing inventory. The lack of access to food has been intensified by social distancing requirements that make it impossible to operate many congregate meal outlets, and it requires new interventions, like the Emergency Fresh Food Box program, to be quickly deployed.


GrowNYC will deliver Emergency Fresh Food boxes to 25 community partners for distribution in high need populations, identified by the City, throughout the five boroughs. Thus far, the City is working with community partners in Melrose, Washington Heights, Howard Beach/South Ozone Park, Gravesend/Sheepshead Bay, Morris Park, North Shore Staten Island, Flushing, Jackson Heights, Eastchester, and Sunset Park. Each box will contain a variety of fruits and vegetables, two sources of protein, and two starches.


In addition to ensuring that no New Yorker goes hungry in the Feeding New York plan, the City is focused on building food system resilience. GrowNYC will source produce for the Emergency Fresh Food Boxes from regional farmers though their Food Hub in the Bronx, as well as tropical and other produce varieties from wholesale partners in the region.


The distribution of these new USDA boxes which have double the amount of food in them, from 4 to 8 meals, start on this Friday. These larger boxes continue for the duration of the program which is at least until mid-August. These larger boxes are distributed once a week. To find out where you can get an Emergency Food Box visit nyc.gov/getfood.


“We’re starting up an incredible operation to ensure no New Yorker goes hungry, from nearly 500 DOE Grab & Go sites to 3.5 million emergency home meal deliveries – and counting. These Emergency Fresh Food Boxes are an important addition to the City’s commitment during this crisis, providing fresh, health options to neighborhoods in need,” said Kathryn Garcia, New York City Department of Sanitation Commissioner and the City’s COVID-19 Food Czar, in a press release.


"The significance of GrowNYC's long established work to provide every New Yorker with access to fresh and healthy local food while promoting and protecting regional agriculture has been made abundantly clear during the COVID pandemic," said GrowNYC President and CEO Marcel Van Ooyen. "We are grateful to work with city leaders like Mayor De Blasio and 'Food Czar' Katherine Garcia who recognize the inestimable importance of regional farmers in a stable and resilient food supply, and who truly care about the health and safety of residents in all corners of the City."


Grow NYC will also continue to offer Fresh Food Boxes for its SNAP community for purchase for $14-15. All Fresh Food Box sites accept SNAP/EBT and Health Bucks, to make our shares even more affordable.

The produce included in each Fresh Food Box is the best of what’s seasonally available. From July through November, Fresh Food Box sources from farms in the Northeast; in the winter and spring, Northeast produce is supplemented with produce from carefully vetted farms in Southern states, like Florida. This ensures Fresh Food Box provides a wide variety of fresh produce year-round while driving sales of locally-available items such as apples, root vegetables, eggs, grains, and dried beans. For more information visit their website.

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    © by Andrea Strong. Photo by Joachim Wiese.