By Gabrielle Prusak
City Harvest launched its second Mobile Market in Queens recently and more than 500 families attended the Long Island City event, according to the senior director of program operations, Leslie Gordon.
The mobile market was set up at the Queensbridge Houses, where organizers say 66 percent of the residents suffer from diet-related diseases. Residents of the Queensbridge and nearby Ravenswood houses are eligible to register to receive free food at this new mobile market.
Organizers expect the location to provide produce for some 700 families by distributing nearly 20,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables twice per month. City Harvest plans to hold the Mobile Markets twice per month at the Queensbridge site.
According to Gordon, Queensbridge has a large resident population living in 90 residential buildings.
City Harvest chose Queensbridge, which has about 3,100 apartments, because of the lack of food pantries and kitchens said Gordon, who pointed out that “16 percent or more suffer from food insecurity.”
“Our retail team has been working closely with the Associated Supermarket at Queensbridge to improve resident access to healthy produce retail,” said Tatiana Orlov, the northwest Queens manager of Healthy Neighborhoods, City Harvest’s program that runs the Mobile Markets.
City Harvest’s Mobile Markets are farmers market-style stands that serve low-income communities by distributing around 150,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables each month, according the City Harvest website.
Orlov said the organization’s first Mobile Market was set up at the Astoria Houses and serves residents from Astoria and the 11102 ZIP code area.
During the Queensbridge opening in June, a healthy cooking demonstration was also held, and health and wellness information and details about voter registration were distributed. Organizers of the Queens Mobile Market had asked residents of the Queensbridge and Ravenswood housing developments to pre-register for the event.
During the demonstration, the staff and volunteers from City Harvest illustrated healthy cooking recipes and techniques for residents, according to the organization’s website.
City Harvest also “runs nutrition education courses at six sites, including Jacob Riis Community Center, where the market takes place,” Orlov said.
During these nutrition education courses, adults, families, teenagers and senior citizens build the skills and confidence to prepare healthy meals, organizers said.
“Mobile Markets are part of City Harvest’s Healthy Neighborhoods programs, which target low-income communities where residents suffer from high rates of food insecurity, poverty and diet-related disease and where healthy, affordable food is not readily accessible,” City Harvest said in a statement.
City Harvest’s Healthy Neighborhoods program serves all five boroughs.
According to City Harvest’s website, the group plans on delivering more than 2.5 million pounds of fruits and vegetables through the use of Mobile Markets this year.