PHA, PMA tackle food insecurity due to coronavirus with expanded Fresh Picks produce boxes

By Elizabeth Crawford contact

- Last updated on GMT

Source: Getty/VeselovaElena
Source: Getty/VeselovaElena

Related tags: Partnership for a Healthier America, PMA, produce, coronavirus, food insecurity

Partnership for a Healthier America and the Produce Marketing Association are expanding their COVID-19 Fresh Food Fund in a duel effort to ease food insecurity exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic and create a new market for produce that might otherwise be wasted.

Initially available only in Denver, the fund will now make available in upstate New York boxes of high-quality fruit and vegetables at a steep discount to families struggling with access to fresh produce and sufficient food because of economic hardship related to the pandemic, PHA announced Oct. 15.

Each Fresh Picks box includes produce sourced from PMA’s network of growers and distributors and “high-impact print and digital nutrition resources”​ that will help recipients make the most of the contents and build healthy habits and diets going forward, according to PHA.

In Rochester, New York, the boxes will be distributed weekly through December through Foodlink’s Curbside Market and will include 10-12 pounds of produce from American Fruit & Vegetable Co., Sysco Syracuse and Freshpoint, printed recipes from Oldways and free access to the Foodsmart digital platform, which includes personalized nutrition insights, recipes and discounts on other grocery items available nearby.

In Denver, boxes of 20-25 pounds of produce were provided for 12 weeks by FreshPoint, which also packed and delivered the boxes through the Montbello Organizing Committee, The Co-Op at First, Open Door Ministries and Denver Housing Authority. Like the boxes in Rochester, those in Denver also included access to Zipongo’s Foodsmart digital platform, according to PHA.

The program is funded in part by donations from individuals gathered online​ by PHA as well as in Rochester with a grant from the New York State Health Foundation and Wegmans, and in Denver by ReFED, Novo Nordisk and an anonymous donor.

The goal of the boxes is not only to ease immediate food insecurity caused by the economic impact of the pandemic, but to help address diet-related chronic illnesses which make people more susceptible to the coronavirus and other life-threatening ailments. By building healthier habits, the boxes also could help build demand for produce and the other services in the box longer-term.

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