Bounty of fresh produce, resources awaits at Philly’s Greensgrow farm [photos]

Some low-income areas around Philadelphia have experienced a rise in obesity and other health-related problems.

Amid growing prices for fresh produce and a lack of availability, what can residents of those poorer sections of the city do to break the chain?

Operators of an urban farm in Philadelphia believe they have found a vital ingredient of the answer.

Greensgrow farm, located in Kensington and West Philadelphia, will launch its annual SNAP Box Program Thursday.

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The program provides low-income families fresh produce at a discount. After signing up online and paying a one-time fee of $26, the program allows those who receive SNAP food assistance benefits to pay for a month’s worth of farm-grown produce with their Access Card.

Monica McCollin, LIFE program manager at Greensgrow, implores people to come out because the farm offers much more than food.

“We have a culinary educator who will be offering food demos, recipes, and be able to answer any sort of food-related questions,” she said. “Just so we can add that greater support to our community rather than just handing them something and letting them walk away. We really are trying to reach out and build.”

“Education is the heart of the project,” said McCollin, explaining that’s why Greensgrow started the Local Initiative for Food Education program.

As it teaches members how to prep, cook, and store their food, it also offers free cooking classes with a seasoned chef.

“The education piece is something that people can take with them beyond their initial pickup when they’re actually on site receiving their products or produce,” she said. “Education is something that no one can take away from you.”

The SNAP Box Program began in 2013 by distributing 840 boxes of food to 75 families.

In 2014, 1,440 boxes of food went to 120 families.

This year, McCollin said, “The sky is the limit.”

On Thursday, Greensgrow’s produce truck, stocked with fresh vegetables and fruit, will deliver produce to low-income areas in Philadelphia.

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