Schenectady County and several health organizations recently announced a major initiative to provide increased access to healthy food options for those shopping at food pantries. Five pantries will now have increased fresh produce, and that’s not all!
In addition to more fruits and vegetables, the food pantries are seeing a new layout in the facilities to make the produce more visible, and recipe cards with cooking instructions on how to prepare these foods.
The food pantries undergoing these changes are the Schenectady Inner City Ministry, Bridge Christian Church Pantry, Harmony Fellowship Pantry, Scotia-Glenville Pantry, and the State Street Food Pantry.
The new layout to the food pantries will allow for more of a grocery store feel, allowing the fresh, healthy items to really stand out and look appealing. The recipe cards are also vital to this effort – clients may not reach for items like beets or cabbage if they’re unsure how prepare these vegetables.
The other issue food pantry beneficiaries face is that many do not have transportation to grocery stores, making healthy options in food pantries all the more important.
The motivation for this change was a 2015 survey from Schenectady County Public Health Services and Cornell Cooperative Extension: the results revealed that roughly 68% of the 300 food pantry clients in the county reported having type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or a combination therein.
“A lot of these chronic diseases are impacted by an unavailability of healthy foods,” Lisa Ayres, Director of Public Health for Schenectady, told the Daily Gazette.
Ellis Medicine and other community health groups are also involved in the effort, thanks to funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Daily Gazette: Schenectady County to expand access to healthy food at pantries