In 2010, after completing a rigorous application and site review process by Meals On Wheels America, we were awarded “Exemplary Status” Magnet Accreditation for our outstanding senior nutrition program.
This summer, with funding provided by a board discretionary grant from the Opportunity Fund at United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, we launched “The Better Fresh” Project . This opportunity will enable us to purchase fresh produce to incorporate in home delivered meals and congregate meals delivered to Senior Centers in Lehigh and Northampton County. Walmart Foundation provided a $50,000 grant to cover the cost of special kitchen equipment to process and cook fresh produce. A third grant from Northampton County Medical Society helps to cover the cost of purchasing fresh produce.
The project offers a unique opportunity to support local farms, the regional economy and, more importantly, to increase and bolster the nutritional value of meals delivered to seniors and the disabled in the region. Fresh produce is high in nutrition and taste since it is typically picked and used within a couple of days. Produce purchased from local farms offer a secure and safe food source for our seniors and in return, help to support, sustain and preserve our farms.
There has been a growing decrease in the purchase and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables among older adults in the country, despite the fact that such produce are rich in nutrients that help to prevent or delay the onset of disease and help to improve the health and quality of life for seniors. The “Better Fresh” Project seeks to reverse this trend, especially for seniors who are homebound and simply cannot purchase or access locally grown fruits and vegetables.
We have developed partnerships with area farms, including Scholl Orchards, Twin Maple Farms and Casa Bianca Farms and look forward to expanding on collaborations with other farms.