Seniors at the David Santiago Senior Center on South 4th Street have been working diligently not just to keep themselves active and engaged, but to make sure the rest of the community stays healthy as well.
The center, which is operated by the non-profit community organization Southside United HDFC-Los Sures launched its own Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), titled Empowerment Through Nutrition, that’s run by a few of the seniors at the Center and is geared not just towards other seniors in the neighborhood, but the community as a whole.
“For a majority of the people living on the Southside, their main diet is rice and beans and we’re trying to show them different things to eat,” said Frank Ortiz, one of the seniors who frequents the center, and is lead organizer on the CSA. “We want to attack some of the medical problems like high blood pressure and cholesterol that people in our community face. We want to set a better example for a younger generation.”
Ortiz, who worked at the Domino Sugar factory for over 20 years before retiring, said he was particularly heartened by the fact that the newer residents of the neighborhood were also participating in the CSA, and boosting awareness for the program.
The selection of food usually contains a type of fruit, a salad green, a cooking green, onions or garlic, fresh herbs, and a variety of seasonal vegetables. In addition members of the CSA can order eggs and honey for an additional cost.
Those interested in participating in the CSA must sign up to receive produce, which costs $10 for the standard package, a week before they pick it up. Sign up sessions take place every Friday afternoon at the Senior Center. And then based on the response and funds the Senior Center receives, it orders produce accordingly.
However if there are leftovers during a certain week, they are sold to other customers or donated to local food charities.
The CSA is made possible through government funding and can be replicated in any neighborhood. The Senior Center doesn’t profit from the program, and they will only run it during the summer months. It receives its produce from farms located within 350 miles from New York City.
All the produce bags picked up by customers also come with recipes, and unless dietary restrictions or allergies are specified all of the prepared packages are the same.
The Senior Center is also just a couple of weeks away from launching a cooking demonstration series that will run as part of the CSA and be held outdoors during the pick up days.
Sign Ups for the CSA take place Fridays between 3-6 p.m. in front of the David Santiago Senior Center, 201 South 4th Street, for more information visit http://www.southsideunitedhdfc.org/CSA or email Luz Cruz at email@example.com or call her at 929-293-5725.