New York Common Pantry is working to grow its new Nourish Program which will bring fresh produce to seniors throughout the Bronx.
The Nourish Program began in the Bronx during winter 2015 and has a goal of serving approximately 13,500 seniors when it is fully operational.
Daniel S. Reyes, deputy executive director of New York Common Pantry, discussed the importance of not only making sure hungry seniors get food but making sure they get the right food.
“Our mission is to obviously alleviate hunger across New York City but we really take a holistic approach,” said Reyes. “It’s really not just about providing whatever food comes through our doors.”
He said they are “really strategic about whatever food we are providing because we want to make sure we’re providing nutritious food to our families and seniors.”
According to Reyes, the program’s principal location is in East Harlem but NYCC had always wanted a base of operations for Nourish within the Bronx.
He said based on where they were located, they noticed an increase in seniors coming from the Bronx.
However, although seniors could come to East Harlem, NYCC was not able to effectively go to where Bronx-based senior citizens frequented.
Currently, there are two New York Common Pantry locations for the Bronx-based Nourish program.
The warehouse where the food is stored and from where NYCC ships the food is located on Hunts Point Avenue.
The base of operations where seniors and their families can go to pickup food is located in Mott Haven on East 138th Street.
NYCC does not only serve seniors at their Mott Haven location but can now make sure it meets its seniors clients at the places they commonly visit.
“We’re going out mostly to senior centers,” said Reyes. “We’ve brokered some relationships with RAIN and some medical center that cater mostly to seniors.”
He added, “What we’re doing is going out to these areas where we know there is significant need and where seniors themselves are congregating in social circles.”
Reyes said depending on how big the senior center is they will go either once or twice a month.
Before the Nourish program visits one of the places where seniors are commonly located, they will be notified NYCC is coming so Nourish can serve the most people.
Despite the goal NYCC has to serve 13,500 seniors when the Nourish program is fully operational, Reyes said that number is not a ceiling at which NYCC plans to stop.
According to the deputy executive director, the program was expected to pass that goal and serve 14,000 seniors by the end of September.
“Our approach has always been to never turn anyone away,” said Reyes, “and that’s how we have operated for the last 30 years.”