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BANK ON IT: Food Bank For New York City's Blog

A Place of Their Own

By Bonnie Averbuch  

Photo Credit:  Tim Reiter 

One of the things I appreciate most about being a nutrition intern at Food Bank For New York City is knowing that I have a hand in improving the health of people in the Harlem community. For the past several weeks I've been developing nutrition education and providing nutrition workshops at Food Bank's new senior center, which opened at our Community Kitchen and Food Pantry in Harlem in November 2012. The more time I spend talking to the seniors, the clearer it becomes to me that this program is definitely adding some spice to their lives.  

Each day starts off with a hot breakfast at 9am and finishes with supper at 2pm. But it's the hours in between that add oomph to seniors' daily routines. They get to enjoy a variety of fun, engaging activities and every day is different. When seniors walk in the door, they might find Zumba, yoga or aerobics on the schedule to help them stay physically active. Or it could be an arts-and-crafts session. Perhaps they'll learn how to eat healthier in the nutrition class I provide that day or go on an outing to a museum. There's plenty of unstructured time too, when seniors can relax and read the paper, play cards and dominos, or simply sit and chat.  

From what I can tell, they enjoy all of it--from the planned activities to the free time. When I talked to Alan, a 66-year-old regular at the center who loves writing poetry, he said that the artistic activities were his favorite way to spend the day. "It helps broaden my creativity," he told me. "I'm blessed to be able to come to a place that's an outlet for senior citizens with creative minds to sing, dance, and make art." There's even an upcoming art show where clients can display their work. Another senior I met recently, Katherine, is so excited for her friends' "oohs and aahs" that she's leaving her artwork at home until the day of the show so that she can surprise everyone. 

Although some of the seniors have ideas for additional activities--Betty would like a movie night--it's obvious that they appreciate having a special place to spend their days. Everyone I talked to said it again and again. "It gives retirees something to do," Edith told me. "And that's important," her friend Christine chimed in. But the center is more than just a place to go--it's a place where elderly members of the community can learn, have fun, meet new people and make new friends. "We enjoy socializing," Alan told me. "We get to know each other. We're on a first name basis." One of his new friends, Katherine, couldn't agree more: "I can't wait to get here every day," she told me with smile. I could have guessed that just by looking at her. The excitement and happiness on her face said it all. 

Food Bank's Neighborhood Center for Adults 60+ is open Monday through Friday, 9am – 3pm. 

Bonnie Averbuch is a Community Nutrition Intern at Food Bank Bank For New York City. She is currently pursuing her M.S. in Nutrition and Public Health at Columbia University.

Change One Thing: New Year's Resolutions

With the New Year just a few days away, you have probably already spent some time – or told yourself you’re going to spend some time – thinking about your resolutions for 2012. One of the Food Bank’s central goals is to help build a healthier city through nutrition education – and within the CookShop team, we are resolving to inspire more New Yorkers to Change One Thing and build a healthier lifestyle.

A social marketing campaign that encourages New Yorkers to improve their health by making small changes to their diet, Change One Thing can be a great model for your own resolutions. Rather than resolving to hit the gym four days a week or to kick fried foods once and for all – c’mon, who are you kidding? – why don’t you drink water instead of that daily soda, or pick up some fruit instead of that bag of chips at lunch?

We asked some of our CookShop students and members of the Food Bank network to tell us what they would change in the New Year….

George , CookShop Classroom Student, PS180M

"Instead of eating meat, I would eat carrots. Instead of drinking milk with fat in it, I would drink soy milk. Instead of drinking juice, I would drink water."

Laura Smith, CookShop Classroom Parent Coordinator, PS 47X

“I’d like to exchange my dinner roll with a new vegetable every night .”

Russell, EATWISE peer educator , New Dorp High School

“I’d like to drink water throughout the day and eat vegetables three times a day.”

Marcia, Customer, Food Bank Community Kitchen & Food Pantry

“In the new year I hope to get less meat and more vegetables. I want my whole family to participate. My husband is diabetic and I want to prevent my children from being diabetic too.”

Margarette Purvis, President and CEO, Food Bank For New York City

“Locally grown food is so important. So, in 2012 I'm going to take a stab at gardening. I think I'll start with herbs and tomatoes!”

So how about YOU? What’s your Change One Thing resolution for the new year?

Because of YOU: Happy Holidays!

Cheryl with a carton of fat-free milk from the Food Bank’s Community Kitchen & Food Pantry
Food Bank For New York City is so grateful for everything you do over the holiday season – and so are the 1.5 million New Yorkers who rely on our programs and services. It is because of YOU, our supporters, that the 1 in 5 children who rely on soup kitchens and food pantries in NYC have the nourishment they need to grow healthy and strong. It is because of YOU that veterans returning from overseas will have somewhere to turn if he or she find themselves struggling to afford food.

And it is because of YOU that Cheryl has the below story to share. Please take a moment to read below, and learn what a difference your support truly makes. Thank you!

"October was the first time I came for groceries at the [Community Kitchen & Food Pantry]. I get food stamps, but sometimes it's not enough. It's a help, but when I get to the end of the month, sometimes I need some extra help. So I come here.

The pantry helped me a lot with Thanksgiving. The rice and chicken I picked up at the pantry made the meal. I had a really good holiday because of it.

I think the way they do it here is good. Instead of just picking up a bag, I can pick what I need. It’s just like the supermarket.

Please keep it going. This is so great for the community. It helps a lot of people get by, and I am real thankful that it's here for us."

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