Hand picked local vegetables make their way to Brooklyn preschoolers and their families through weekly produce boxes.
Little ones donning even smaller plastic aprons sit around shortened tables covered in healthy ingredients. On the menu today are strawberry pizzas. Plump juicy berries and succulent tomato slices provided by the GrowNYC and Corbin Hill Food Project, are paired with cream cheese and gram crackers. One little girl when asked if she likes the ‘pizza’ spastically shakes her head yes! Its a thumbs up from some of the parents also.
“My kids love them (referring to the produce boxes) when we pick them up its really exciting. I’m grateful this was possible,” said Raquel Rojas a pre-k mom who has children attending the Bishop Sexton Head Start preschool in Brooklyn where the event was held. The Farm to Preschool project is currently in 11 schools across the city. Participants can pick up a weekly produce box with seven to 10 locally grown fruits and vegetables. Each box cost eight to $10 dollars, and can be purchased with Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT). Families can also receive $2 Health Bucks vouchers issued by the Department of Health to further reduce the price of the boxes.
(A live demonstration of one of the recipes that comes with the weekly boxes)
“Corbin Hill food project was founded to serve the city’s most vulnerable populations, and that begins with children, “ said Corbin Hill founder Dennis Derryck. He went onto say, “for the first time the health department and the whole administration, is seeing the subtle shift in terms of the policy, “ and I really have to praise the Health Department for making that a possibility this summer.” Referring to the program’s inception this July, made possible in part by the partnership with the Health Department and 34 area farmers many of which are located in upstate New York.
(Marcel Van Ooyen Executive Director of GrowNYC)
Locally produced, affordable vegetables that kids and their families have access to is at the heart of the program. Which according to Head Start preschool Director Anna Maria Alleyne “is all in harmony with our families culture and dietary needs,” When asked if the program has made a difference with how the kids relate to food she said,
“Now they know that food comes from the ground not the grocery store.” This lesson came to kids who live in communities that have lots of fast food restaurants and grocery stores with plenty of processed foods. Farm to Preschool helped the members of this community to eat a little healthier.