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Fresh produce for low-income neighborhoods in Harlem

DEAN MOSES Special to the AmNews | 8/3/2011, 12:38 p.m.

It is 3 a.m. in my East Harlem apartment and I find myself looking in the fridge to see nothing but an empty glow. Despite my search for vegetarian stores and fresh produce, I've spent another day hungry.

Fresh produce and organic products are usually hard to find in Harlem, especially for a vegetarian, but a newly launched program, Farm Share, hopes to remedy this dilemma. Located on Amsterdam Avenue and West 132nd Street, Farm Share strives to provide fresh fruit and vegetables from local farmers directly to communities in Harlem and the Bronx.

Farm Share is a joint program of the Manhattan Borough President's Office and Corbin Hill Road Farm, located upstate in Schoharie County. Every Wednesday, the program brings fresh produce to the people who need it the most.

"Today, we are coming together to begin one of the most exciting and innovative food projects ever seen in this community and New York as a whole," said Scott Stringer, Manhattan borough president, on his staff-managed blog, "Today we are bringing produce to the people."

But who is Farm Share aiming to help? The program welcomes low-income families by accepting Food Stamps and EBT, encouraging residents to become members of Farm Share to combat obesity and diabetes.

Harlem is home to many fast food restaurants and delis that serve all manner of meat and junk food that, over long periods of time, can be ruinous to the human body. Programs like Farm Share help provide healthier and cheaper solutions for residents.

Resident can receive their fresh produce by going to Farm Share's website and signing up for a membership. According to Farm Share's website, "Shareholders pay in advance [several flexible payment plans are available] and in return will receive a set number of produce items each week."

Fresh produce is delivered every Wednesday from July to October. Memberships are available throughout the season and the public can join at any time. Produce is provided at three levels, from small to large, with the smallest starting at around five dollars per week.

Farm Share is an innovative new program trying to end obesity in New York's lower-income neighborhoods, bringing the taste of fresh produce to a wider public.