Food assistance is among the greatest needs of which residents living in Housing Development Corp. (HDC) MidAtlantic properties—particularly seniors.
For years, HDC MidAtlantic has worked with the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank to deliver food boxes to seniors through its ElderShare program. However, only residents 60 and older who meet income-eligibility requirements qualify. This led the resident services team of HDC MidAtlantic staff to explore food-assistance options for families, including those with young children.
The team learned about Fresh Express at the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank’s conference in October 2016 and felt it might be the solution.
“We were seeking opportunities to partner on distribution in the Quarryville area,” says Food Bank Director of Agency Relations Jorja Barton. “HDC MidAtlantic has been a partner for some time, so we met and sure enough, we made it happen.”
“There is only one grocery store in a two-mile radius. This grocery store is close to Oak Bottom Village; however, a lack of transportation leaves a lot of our residents without adequate access to food,” says HDC MidAtlantic Resident Service Coordinator Jennifer Santiago, who oversees the development’s Fresh Express. “Most residents also said they didn’t have enough income to cover the high cost of food sold at the existing grocery store.”
Areas like Quarryville in southeastern Lancaster County are sometimes called food deserts because residents have limited access to food, especially affordable, fresh produce. While residents living at Oak Bottom Village benefit from the program, Fresh Express is open to any qualifying family in the area.
Fresh Express foods is distributed at Oak Bottom Village on the first Monday of every month. Santiago posts flyers around the property alerting residents. Other neighbors hear about Fresh Express by word of mouth.
Santiago said she’s grateful for the program because it’s helping families and it’s giving her a chance to meet more residents, and that’s opening doors.
“Residents are getting to know me better through Fresh Express, and that’s key to helping them feel more comfortable reaching out to me for assistance with other concerns and needs,” she says. “I find it rewarding to work within our communities and to be part of a solution to one of their greatest needs.”