BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — West End residents have a new, vital source for fresh produce delivered right to their neighborhood, thanks to Bridgeport-based LifeBridge’s new Fresh Connections program.
Launched at Gary Crooks Community Center Wednesday, the initiative offers families an affordable way to bring Connecticut-grown fruits and vegetables to their tables while also looking for ways to improve all aspects of their lives.
“This is about so much more than delivering food,” said Susan Tabachnick, director of Fresh Connections. “It’s a pathway to self-sufficiency. Food is a good way to start that conversation.”
Here’s how it works: Residents fill out an order form and pay with credit or debit card, cash or SNAP. Two weeks later, their boxes of fresh vegetables and fruits are delivered to the distribution site. Buyers can pack the foods in two grocery bags provided for each family.
A family of four pays $20 for roughly 25 pounds of food. A family of two would receive about 12.5 pounds of produce for $10. All of the food comes from Connecticut produce distributors and local farms.
Opening each box will be a bit like being a contestant on Food Network’s “Chopped.” A typical basket might include three pounds of onions, peaches in season, some potatoes and a head of lettuce or cabbage. Since some of the items might be new to participants, LifeBridge hopes to include a recipe or two in each box, spokesperson Eileen Brennan said.
Families can sign up for the twice-monthly delivery each distribution day or just order from time to time. There is no obligation or contract to sign and anyone can participate. There are no income requirements.
Located at 301 Bostwick Ave., the Gary Crooks site will be open every other Wednesday from 4 to 6 p.m. LifeBridge hopes to open new sites at their Clinton Avenue headquarters and at Hall Neighborhood House in the coming weeks, said Brennan.
Though the Crooks Center is within walking distance to a Stop & Shop, Tabachnick said residents told organizers they felt the prices were too high and the produce wasn’t what they wanted. She hopes to provide a more affordable alternative, and to augment the distribution with talks with nutrition experts and chefs, who can offer tips on using the produce.
“We are working with LifeBridge and others to show people you’re able to eat healthy on a budget,” said Chef Raquel Rivera-Pablo, who did a cooking demonstration for opening day.
For more information on Fresh Connections, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 203-368-5506.
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