Food Hub Focuses on Premium Produce as Appetite for Fresh, Local Products Grows

Winnie Hu reported in yesterday’s New York Times that, “Lunches at a senior center on the Upper East Side of Manhattan come with organic kale, vine-ripened tomatoes and freshly plucked summer squash — all grown not that far away in the Hudson Valley.

“For a suggested donation of $1.50, regulars at the center operated by the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House can feast on a bounty of vegetables and fruits from the same local farms that supply fancy restaurants like Gramercy Tavern, Craft and Bouley.”

Yesterday’s article noted that, “Arugula and bok choy are not just for food connoisseurs anymore. There is a growing appetite for fresh, local, high-quality produce in New York City at places such as senior centers, schools and soup kitchens, as the benefits of such foods have been embraced beyond the walls of artisanal restaurants and health food stores.

“In recent years, initiatives have aimed to get fresh produce onto more dinner plates, particularly those of low income residents who cannot afford to shop at, say, Whole Foods.

Now the city is going to get a new $20 million food hub to support these efforts. The New York State Greenmarket Regional Food Hub, which was announced last month by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, will be based in a 75,000-square-foot warehouse operated by GrowNYC, a nonprofit that also runs the city’s greenmarkets. It will be used to distribute fresh produce from local farmers directly to community institutions and programs, restaurants and other places that are typically too big to buy piecemeal at local farmers markets and too small to purchase in bulk from commercial food suppliers.”

The Times article added that, “Marcel Van Ooyen, the president and chief executive of GrowNYC, said the new food hub would allow it to ‘dramatically increase the number of farmers we support and New Yorkers we help feed.'”

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