UPPER WEST SIDE — Fresh fruit and vegetables from Upper West Side Greenmarkets will make their way onto the plates of 400 homebound seniors living uptown as part of a new program from City Meals on Wheels, Councilwoman Gale Brewer's office and the city's Department for the Aging.
"I'm very partial to seniors," Brewer said during an announcement Sunday of her "Grow Green, Age Well" campaign, which aims to bring healthier food to seniors in the neighborhood.
As part of the initiative, City Meals on Wheels and other organizations will buy the produce from farmers at wholesale prices and deliver them to the homes of area seniors, senior centers and food banks.
Brewer persuaded the Department for the Aging to bypass its requirement that senior center menus be approved six months in advance, clearing the way for groups to substitute fresh, local produce on their menus instead, and thus start purchasing produce this summer, when more of it is in season.
Among the centers that have signed on to the plan are the Hargrave Senior Center on West 71st Street and the and Goddard Riverside Community Center on Columbus Avenue, organizers said.
"[The initiative] is local, healthy, organic and more cost effective," said Brewer, who added that the new program will not cost taxpayers any additional money.
Anne Cunningham, a senior who lives on the Upper West Side, said she'd take advantage of the program, which offers fresh food boxes for about $8 every two weeks.
"I plan to participate. It will be really wonderful to get the deliveries, particularly when it's hot," she said.
Brewer's office also announced its "2012-2013 Age-Friendly West Side Grocery Guide," which outlines which grocery stores in the neighborhood are friendly to older West Siders, offering them a glass of water, delivery, or assistance reaching up to a high shelf, among other things.
One of the stores on the list is Fairway, at West 84th and Broadway, whose representative Solomon Juxton Smith attended the unveiling to promote the grocery's store's accessibility to seniors.
A small amount of the produce will also come from the greenhouse at P.S. 333, where student volunteers will tend the garden this summer and donate the lettuce to seniors at Goddard Riverside.
Next year, P.S. 333 students will visit the senior center and seniors will be invited to visit the school, Brewer said.