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New high-tech program gives those in need healthy choices

CYRIL JOSH BARKER Amsterdam News Staff | 11/10/2011, 11:38 a.m.
New high-tech program gives those in need healthy choices

The city's largest food pantry is giving its clients a better and more high-tech way to make food choices, just in time for Thanksgiving.

The Yorkville Common Pantry (YCP), located at East 109th Street and Fifth Avenue, is launching the Client Choice program, which will allow clients to make better food choices as opposed to getting prepackaged bags of food.

The first-of-its-kind program in the city gives clients two new ways to select their grocery packages, by using web-enabled tablets onsite or by ordering on computers or mobile phone browsers through the YCP website. Up to 80 percent of purchased fresh produce at YCP comes from local sources.

"The Client Choice pantry allows clients to select from a menu that ensures nutritional balance but gives them a choice within each food group," said a YCP spokesperson. "The clients may make their selection from a home or library computer or on tablet computers on our premises with one-on-one assistance from volunteers." Many of YCP's clients live in "food deserts," where fresh produce is hard to find, making the bounty of fresh items all the more important.

Orders are automatically directed to YCP's floor, where volunteers pack the groceries to order. The tablets present the menu in a graphically accessible way, with text in English, Spanish or Mandarin Chinese.

According to recent numbers, one in five city residents is living in poverty. YCP is the city's largest single-site food pantry serving emergency food seven days a week and distributing grocery packages to over 1,200 families a week. Last year, YCP served nearly 2 million meals. For more information, visit www.ycp.org or call (917) 720-9700.