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Healthy Food for All
will provide over 600 boxes of fresh locally grown produce throughout Tompkins County during the month of May to people in need. Approximately a third of the boxes will also contain locally produced eggs, beans, grains and nuts for homebound, high-risk and food-insecure elders, individuals, and families to provide essential micro and macro nutrients required for a healthy diet.

As we enter the ninth week of New York State's PAUSE order, access to fresh produce is limited for many. Rural families throughout Tompkins County, like many throughout the region, are struggling with unexpected changes to their household income, making it difficult to afford food, especially the high cost of fruits and vegetables. In addition, people living in rural areas are also facing challenges around accessibility due in part to limited public transportation services during the pandemic, leaving many supermarkets, food pantries, and community agencies out of reach.

While there are various sources of free shelf-stable foods available, distribution of fresh fruits and vegetables to people in need has been very limited during COVID-19, with Healthy Food For All's boxes offering one of the only ways for many low-income households to attain fresh produce during the pandemic.

One resident who recently received a box from Healthy Food For All reported, "I am currently unable to leave my home due to disability and I can't afford to order food delivery from the grocery store. My neighbor offered to go shopping for me, but she is a senior and I don't want to put her at risk. I haven't had any fresh food for weeks. This helped me so much."

Home deliveries of these "produce and pantry" boxes are made possible with the help of volunteers, including drivers from B&B Flooring in Dryden. The project is also made possible with the generous support of PressBay Food Transfer Hub, Friendship Donations Network, Headwater Food Hub, Regional Access and a grant from Community Foundation of Tompkins County and United Way of Tompkins County thanks to donors to each organization's COVID-19 funds.

Healthy Food for All Director Liz Karabinakis, however, is concerned about what happens next.

"The reality is that we need more funding to continue. People need to eat more than once a month and we already have 200 households requesting boxes of fresh produce next week," she said. "I've seen firsthand the tremendous impact our deliveries of fresh produce are having in people's lives. Although the county is reopening, the economic crisis will cause many to continue struggling with food-insecurity and I hope we can raise what we need so no community member is turned away."

Healthy Food for All is a non-profit program of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County in partnership with local farms.

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