STEUBEN CO., N.Y. — Not everyone can easily get to the farmer’s markets located in the bigger towns and cities of Steuben County. Transportation or health issues can limit some people’s mobility. So how do these folks access fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season in order to have a healthier diet? Cornell Cooperative Extension of Steuben County partnered with the Office for the Aging, Corning Foundation, and Lowery Family Farms to provide a Veggie Van that could bring the produce stand right near these people’s homes.
The Veggie Van was a nine week pilot project where one farm took produce directly to areas in Steuben County known to be food deserts. These were the towns of Caton, Addison, Greenwood, Campbell, Bradford, Wayne, Pulteney, Avoca and Cohocton. The van parked for two-hour time slots among the towns on a schedule of Wednesdays throughout the summer. The van accepted Cash/Credit/Check/EBT and Farmers Market Nutrition Program Checks from its customers.
The van served 30-50 customers per day. Cornell Cooperative Extension of Steuben County’s SNAP Ed Southern Finger Lakes Program and the Expanded Food & Nutrition Education Program provided resources and lessons on how to cook the produce that was distributed. The Office for the Aging and WIC distributed their FMNP checks at the Veggie Van sites so people could get produce with their FMNP checks in order to improve FMNP redemption rates.
CCE Steuben Executive Director Tess McKinley says “Lowery Family Farms did a great job of providing produce to people in food deserts throughout the summer in Steuben. They traveled on their own and provided vegetables at low costs and accepted multiple forms of payment. CCE Steuben learned a lot from this pilot project, and we look forward to expanding this program in 2023 with partnerships from various nonprofits such as Office for the Aging, Pro Action of Steuben and Yates Inc., the Institute for Human Services, and Cornell University. Without their support, we could not have done this program.”
For more information about Cornell Cooperative Extension and its programs, visit PutKnowledgeToWork.org.
–Cornell Cooperative Extension Steuben County