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'Veggie Van' brings fresh fruits and vegetables to food deserts in Lower Manhattan

An initiative by Borough President Scott Stringer and Grow NYC has a mobile "Veggie Van" delivering fresh fruits and vegetables to underserved communities in Lower Manhattan.

The van currently has a drop-off point in the Two Bridges neighborhood of the Lower East Side, where for $10 participants can get a large bag of fresh fruits and vegetables. The Lower East Side was devastated by Hurricane Sandy and has a high concentration of New York City Housing Authority residences. There are plans to open the van up to neighborhoods in upper Manhattan, including Washington Heights, Harlem and Inwood.

When announcing the program, Stringer called these neighborhoods "food deserts" that don't have easy access to green markets or fresh produce. Stringer secured $85,000 in funding for the program, and said it's anticipated that this year the van will deliver 300,000 pounds of fresh produce to residents, seniors and schools.

Grow NYC, an organization that works to grow and distribute produce in the city, put up $3,000 to fund the initiative and will help sustain its $48,000 annual cost.

The van will eventually travel to other locations like senior centers, public housing developments, nursing homes and large residential complexes and currently accepts cash, debit, credit and food stamps.

The program is part of Stringer's Go Green Initiative, which began in 2007 and was created to address environmental concerns in the underserved neighborhoods of Manhattan. It works to develop individual action plans that assess the needs of various neighborhoods like Harlem, Inwood, Washington Heights and the Lower East Side.

Go Green helps plant trees, distributes eco-friendly light bulbs, promotes recycling programs, holds textile-collection events, sponsors environmental initiatives for kids, and supports green markets and other fresh produce programs in Manhattan.

For more information, visit keyword Veggie Van.

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