Mobile Food Bank makes a new stop at Riverview Apartments
For Eddie Cruz and Candido Rodriguez, fresh produce is now just a short walk away.
The elderly neighbors live at Springfield Housing Authority’s Riverview Apartments, where the Mobile Food Bank of Western Massachusetts now makes twice-monthly stops to drop off fresh produce and healthy groceries, free of charge.
Until now, folks like Cruz and Rodriguez had to hike nearly a mile to the former stop on Plainfield Street for groceries that mean the difference between healthy eating and sometimes not enough good food in the cupboards.
This past winter, the multiple snowstorms made for extreme difficulty for many Riverview residents. For some it meant skipping the trips altogether.
But no more.
The Mobile Food Bank decided to bring the visit right to where most of the recipients live. And for the elderly residents at Riverview, that means a short walk with bags and carriers in tow.
“We’re here to stock up,” said Cruz on a recent Friday afternoon. “The food you get here is always good, and good for you.”
Largely funded by a Stop & Shop grant, the Mobile Food Bank brings foods including apples, potatoes, celery, onions, cabbage, carrots, cereal, milk, peanut butter and seasonal vegetables.
Shirley Delrio of the Hatley-based Food Bank said the stop in the Brightwood section of Springfield usually draws well over 100 people in need of food. On this day, there were 90 people waiting inside the Riverview Apartments Community Room when the truck pulled up, a sign of a good delivery day.
“This is pretty successful,” Delrio said. “It’s unfortunate there’s such a need, but we’re happy to be here to help these folks out, to supplement their food supply.”
The Mobile Food Bank began delivering to stops in Springfield and Holyoke in 2013, there have been more than 775,000 pounds of fresh and wholesome food brought into inner-city neighborhoods with high poverty rates. They are welcomed by people who don’t live close to stores with fresh produce.
Of the more than $1 million worth of food delivered, 80% is fresh, she noted.
And that suits people like Wendy Waleryszak just fine.
“This is a great idea,” she said, toting off with bags filled with apples, potatoes, cabbage and milk.
“They give you recipes that go with the food you get, and I love that. I go home and try them right away,” Waleryszak said.
Friends Eva Vasquez and Eveline Feliciano walked over together from their apartment at Riverview.
“We love this,” noted Vasquez. “It’s so easy to just walk right outside. We love the veggies. It’s always good food.”
Her friend nodded in agreement, adding, “It’s good for the winter not to have to walk so far in the snow. I couldn’t do it.”
The food delivery is sure to bring out volunteers to help with the set-up and handing out. Many on this stop are from the Springfield Housing Authority.
“It’s great because a lot of the people who need the food live right here at Riverview. It’s just a whole lot easier,” said volunteer Melvina Jones, who walked over from the nearby New North Citizens Council.
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